The Caltech Alumni Association (CAA) presented its Honorary Member Award to four members of the Caltech community on June 13, 2020 during the CAA Annual Meeting hosted virtually via Zoom.
This year’s recipients are Taso Dimitriadis, Associate Director of the Caltech Center for Inclusion and Diversity; Greg Fletcher, Program Director at Caltech Y; Felicia Hunt, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Residential Experience; and John Van Deusen, Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering, Jim Hall Design and Prototyping Lab Supervisor.
Annually, the CAA Board of Directors selects exceptional members of the Institute community, who are not Caltech degree holders, to become honorary members of the CAA. These individuals are recognized for giving significant service and support to members of the Caltech community through work that is aligned with the purposes for which the CAA was established, such as contributing to Caltech’s educational and cultural environment, encouraging fellowship among alumni and students, and strengthening the relationship between Caltech and its alumni.
Associate Director of the Caltech Center for Inclusion and Diversity
Taso Dimitriadis is the Associate Director of the Caltech Center for Inclusion and Diversity, a role in which he searches for areas of improvement in higher education policy and student programming. He educates faculty and staff on generational and societal changes, works closely on the treatment of Title IX issues on campus, and creates platforms for students to express their opinions.
“I've gained so much from the experiences of working with our students who go out into the world and do such amazing things,” Taso said. “Caltech students and alumni have the ability to change the world, and I want to continue to encourage our students to be active and engaged in a world that needs changing.
Prior to his current role, Taso served as a live-in staff member in Avery House, during which his weekly “Tazo with Taso” tea times were popular with students. They were able to take a break from the demanding curricula and speak about their daily troubles without judgment.
Taso’s arrival at Caltech came shortly after a tragic string of undergraduate student suicides. Taso served as a driving force behind redesigning the undergraduate support system. He built positive relationships with the South Houses and maintained positive relationships with students and administration.
Program Director at Caltech Y
Greg Fletcher has served as the Program Director at the Caltech Y for over 19 years, a position in which he works diligently to make a difference for the students every day. In this role, Greg has provided opportunities for students to gain perspective of the world and society beyond Caltech by hosting diverse speakers for a social activism speaker series, organizing camping trips, and arranging policy missions to Washington D.C., to name a few.
“I really am honored to be joining such an amazing group,” Greg said. “I've never been at a school where alumni are as active or impactful as they are here at Caltech.”
Greg continues to serve as an advisor and mentor to all the students with whom he interacts and maintains ties with many after they become alumni.
Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Residential Experience
In her current role as an Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Residential Experience, Felicia Hunt is responsible for ensuring an engaging and inclusive environment for students living on campus.
“Today is particularly special because, as we think about the life of a Caltech student, now I get to be part of what happens after their departure,” Felicia said. “They leave and transition into their lives as alumni and as adults and in their academic and professional pursuits — to not just observe that and get to celebrate that, but to be included in that is particularly meaningful for me.”
Previously as the Associate Dean of the Graduate Office, Felicia strengthened the relationship between the Graduate Office and its students. As an Assistant Vice President for Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion Initiatives & Title IX Coordinator, she helped navigate a difficult period for Caltech that impacted many members of the community.
Felicia provided support for students working to bring attention to the challenges, provided institutional resources for the student community, including counseling services and workshops, facilitated meetings with key faculty members and administrative personnel, supported affected individuals, and implemented policies to prevent similar events from reoccurring.
Also, as the previous Director of the Caltech Women’s Center, Felicia increased support for women and LGBTQ individuals on campus by providing mentorship, appropriate programming, and required resources. In all her efforts, Felicia was instrumental in guiding Caltech to be a more inclusive, supportive, and modern Institute.
John Van Deusen
Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering, Jim Hall Design and Prototyping Lab Supervisor
John has served as the lead instructor for all the required machining classes for Mechanical Engineering students. Beyond lecturing, he has educated generations of budding engineers to design and build anything that can be conceived and created by Caltech engineers.
“It's a source of pride when I can see some of my former students in the International Space Station, or knowing that some of the most innovative products being developed, are by students who struggled to make their ME 72 competition device survive yet another round in the Millikan Pond,” John said. “To be recognized for the time that I've spent with you and to be asked into your ranks is one of the brightest highlights of my career here at Caltech.”
John’s willingness to help each individual student learn hands-on machining skills went beyond expectations of those in the educational position and, to quote his award nomination, he brings “unceasing optimism to every undergraduate student who walked through the wooden double doors to his shop.”