Each year, Pomona College recognizes an alumnus, alumna or alumni for their selfless commitment and ongoing volunteer service to the College. The Alumni Distinguished Service Award was inaugurated in 1991 and recipients are selected by the Committee of Past Presidents of the Alumni Association. This year, the winners are Frank Albinder ’80, Jim McCallum ’70 and Harry E. Pukay-Martin ’70.
Frank Albinder ’80
Frank Albinder, whose devotion to Pomona is as clear as the tattoo of Cecil Sagehen on his right arm, has been an advocate for the College since he graduated. His many contributions include working as a volunteer for admissions, the Alumni Association and the Alumni board, where he served as president.
Albinder was born in Hollywood, California, and grew up unaware that The Claremont Colleges existed, or that they were only 32 miles from his front door. A presentation at his high school college fair piqued his interest, and after a visit, he fell in love with everything about Pomona. He was the first in his family to attend college, and coming from a single-parent household, Pomona and her people quickly became his extended family, as they still are today.
Albinder came to Pomona hoping to major in English and go to law school, but he found he was spending much of his spare time in Thatcher Music Building, so he eventually became a music major with a vocal performance concentration. Albinder's mother insisted he could sing before he could talk, which makes sense, considering Albinder sang in the College Choir, the Glee Club, The Blue and White Quartet, the Four College Choir, and the Collegium Musicum at Claremont Graduate University. When he wasn't singing, he was doing other things to avoid schoolwork, like managing the Coop Store, co-editing the Metate, playing classical music at KSPC, working three jobs in the music department, and making lifelong friends.
After Albinder graduated, he spent the summer on campus, working as the Summer Conference Coordinator and single-handedly staffing the Coop Fountain for each day's non-existent lunch rush. When he moved to Boston for graduate school, he couldn't imagine life without Pomona, so he served as an alumni admissions volunteer, and as the Boston Chapter Chair for the Pomona Alumni Association. He served as chapter chair again, in both San Francisco and Washington, D.C., as well as on the Alumni Board for many years, before becoming president for the 2009-10 academic year. He loves spending time on campus, and for several years, conducted an Alumni Weekend choir of singers who loved to relive their glory days in college, singing the old Pomona College songs. He has hosted numerous winter break parties in Washington, D.C., where it's always fun to meet alumni of all ages, current students, and admitted students with their parents. He has served as co-chair for most of his reunions, including this one, and he has a tattoo of Cecil Sagehen on his right arm.
Albinder, who has been a classical musician throughout his professional life, was a college music professor (Davidson College and University of Virginia), a community and professional chorus conductor and a singer/director of the male a cappella ensemble Chanticleer. He has served as a national officer for the American Choral Directors Association and the National Collegiate Choral Organization, and currently serves as president of Intercollegiate Men's Choruses, a 105-year-old association serving men's choirs from middle school through adult and professional ages.
Albinder says he wouldn't be who he is today without the lessons he learned at Pomona, both as a student and as an alumnus, and is grateful that he didn't skip that high school college fair. Otherwise he might have ended up at UCLA!
Jim McCallum ’70
In 1965, as Jim McCallum was packing to leave Tucson to start college in Claremont, the American Field Service suddenly selected him as an exchange student in Switzerland. When he called Pomona, the Admissions Office simply congratulated him, wished him a great gap year abroad, and urged him to return in 1966 without bothering to reapply. He says he will never forget the surprise and gratitude for Pomona’s flexibility and friendship.
McCallum had a great year in an advanced, liberal Swiss Hochschule and living with a wonderful family. He experienced many amazing changes and returned home as a ragged rebel, not at all the closely shorn Goldwater volunteer as he had left—and much more suited to a campus undergoing rapid social/political changes.
His years in his sponsor group, KSPC radio station, Student Life paper, student/faculty/trustee committee, several years living and especially serving as RA in Oldenburg and random other official activities were all learning experiences—as was sharing a Walker room with Steven Clarke, who helped him through chemistry. In light of his ineptness with chemistry, McCallum decided to change majors from the sciences to international relations. He and Steven learned to get in trouble by catching a room trash can on fire (just once); he made regular forays to visit best friends at Scripps; went to Kegs; raided orchards for fruit; and indulged in his special treat of leading “skulking” expeditions to find and explore unlocked rooms, rooftops and tunnels.
And of course, he studied and learned from the very best.
Along the way at Pomona, McCallum learned that many good things occur unexpectedly and accidentally; he says to not let occasional setbacks cause despair! In life, while hitchhiking, the longest waits often result in the best rides and new friendships.
Since graduating from Pomona, he has continued the “ride” and the friendships as a volunteer. He has been involved in the D.C. area, organizing events at the Smithsonian and White House. He’s stayed active as a class volunteer, co-chairing reunions. And he’s served as an all-around booster at Pomonathons, 4/7 service events and other gatherings. Stints on the Torchbearers Board and now the Alumni Board have rounded out a happy, ongoing connection.
McCallum’s Pomona experiences led to a fundamental conclusion: “I have never been very skilled at foresight and planning: I’m so much more familiar with nostalgia and mild regret.” And it always works out for the best.
Harry E. Pukay-Martin ’70
Harry Pukay-Martin earned a B.A in economics at Pomona College, graduating magna cum laude with Beta Kappa honors. After receiving an M.B.A. from Harvard University in 1973, he stayed in the Boston area, working as an auditor at Coopers and Lybrand, a controller at a small urban hospital, a hospital finance system designer at Hewlett Packard, and chief financial officer at two medical laboratories.
Pukay-Martin found his dream job at The Ohio State University, where he was able to combine his interests in education, healthcare and laboratory medicine. He was general manager and CFO of the Department of Pathology’s practice arm and CFO and director of finance of the department. During his tenure, endowments increased from $200,000 to $15 million, the faculty grew from 20 to 65, and research increased from $2 million to $6.5 million. After 23 years at OSU, he retired in 2012.
As a volunteer at Pomona College, Pukay-Martin has served on numerous reunion committees, including chairing or co-chairing the 40th, 45th, 47th and 50th committees, and was president of the Torchbearers from 2010 to 2014. He partnered with staff to establish the new multi-year "Flight to 50,” a program that engages classes from their 47th Reunion to their 50th Reunion and led the effort to endow a scholarship in the name of the class celebrating its milestone year.
Pukay-Martin also was president of the Pathology Department Section of the Association of Pathology Chairs, president of the Pathology Management Assembly of the Medical Group Management Association, board chair of Worthington Resource Pantry, and a member of the Session at his church.
In retirement, he works to feed the hungry through his volunteer efforts at the Worthington Resource Pantry and activities at his church. He also helps raise funds for the food pantry, Pomona College and the Society of 67, an arm of the Association of Pathology Chairs. Travel, reading extensively and following favorite sports teams are some of his pastimes.
Pukay-Martin currently is a deacon at his church, treasurer of Worthington Resource Pantry and secretary of the Society of 67. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Ohio Society of CPAs, the Healthcare Financial Management Association and an emeritus member of the Pathology Department Section.
He was a recipient of the Pomona College Backstrand Award in Economics, the bronze medal from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Pressler Award and the Follmer Bronze Merit Award from the Healthcare Financial Management Association, the Distinguished Service Award from the Pathology Department Section and the Lifetime Achievement Award from Leadership Worthington.
Pukay-Martin is married to Susanna, a former teacher of Spanish and French. They have two children, Rob and Nicole, a grandchild, Raylie, and a scruffy terrier mix, Charlie.