Spirit of Design Winner and Leaders of Innovation Honored during Philadelphia University’s Evening of Innovation

(Left to right) Spirit of Design Award winner John Varvatos and the Leader of Innovation honorees: D. Walter Cohen, D.D.S.; Bill Jasper; Fran Shammo '83; and Eileen Martinson '86 (George Y.V. King not pictured) were honored at the 2012 Philadelphia University Evening of Innovation.

Five leaders of innovation and one acclaimed menswear designer were honored for their outstanding contributions in their fields during Philadelphia University’s Evening of Innovation on April 28, for which Verizon was the title sponsor.

Fashion designer John Varvatos was presented with the Spirit of Design Award alongside the evening’s Leader of Innovational Medal recipients: D. Walter Cohen, D.D.S.; William L. “Bill” Jasper; George Y.V. King ’69, H’11; Eileen J. Martinson ’86; and Francis “Fran” J. Shammo ’83 were awarded Philadelphia University’s Leader of Innovation Medal at the Hyatt at The Bellevue following the University’s annual Fashion Show.

In addition to the awards ceremony, guests at the gala had the opportunity to view outstanding student research and projects across a variety of disciplines, all showcasing the University’s innovative spirit and the talent and ingenuity of its students.

“Tonight is a celebration—of the students and their exceptional work and of the faculty who provide the active learning experiences that prepare them for a successful future,” Spinelli said at the Spirit of Innovation Gala.  “Just a few short years ago, we began a new chapter in the Philadelphia University story.  It is a story of innovation, of helping students identify problems and opportunities, and of helping them gain expertise in their own disciplines through a broader understanding of related disciplines.  It is a story that is reshaping higher education.”

The 2012 Spirit of Design winner is:

John Varvatos
Chairman and Chief Creative Officer, John Varvatos Entreprises

John Varvatos is at the forefront of trendsetting menswear design. He mixes the flair of Motown music with the edginess of an urban environment in his award-winning menswear collections. Prior to launching his own line in 2000, Mr. Varvatos served as the head of menswear design at Calvin Klein and Polo Ralph Lauren.

He is a three-time Council of Fashion Designers of America award winner, including twice as menswear designer of the year. He also received GQ magazine’s designer of the year award in 2007. In addition to running his namesake brand, Mr. Varvatos is a fashion mentor on NBC’s reality show “Fashion Star,” with host Elle McPherson.

The 2012 Leader of Innovation Medal recipients are:

D. Walter Cohen, D.D.S.
Chancellor Emeritus, Drexel University College of Medicine

During his 35-year career at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine, D. Walter Cohen, D.D.S., established Penn’s department of periodontics and served as its first chairman. In 1986, he became president of the Medical College of Pennsylvania (now Drexel University College of Medicine), where he currently serves as chancellor-emeritus. In 1990, Ambassador Walter Annenberg endowed the D. Walter Cohen Professorship and Chair in Periodontics at Penn.

Dr. Cohen has won numerous awards and has published 22 books. In 1997, Hebrew University dedicated the D. Walter Cohen, D.D.S. Middle East Center for Dental Education. He serves on the Board of Trustees of Philadelphia University and several other organizations.

William L. “Bill” Jasper
Chief Executive Officer, Unifi, Inc.

In February 2011 William L. Jasper became chairman of the Board of Unifi, Inc., a leading producer and processor of multi-filament polyester and nylon textured yarns. Mr. Jasper has served as Unifi’s CEO and a member of its Board of Directors and Executive Committee since September 2007. Under Mr. Jasper’s leadership, Unifi provides innovative global textile solutions and unique branded yarns for customers at every level of the supply chain.

Prior to his role as chairman of the Board, he served as president and CEO, vice president of sales and general manager of Unifi’s polyester division. He joined the company with the purchase of Kinston polyester POY assets from INVISTA in September 2004. Prior to joining Unifi, Mr. Jasper was the director of INVISTA’s DACRON® polyester filament business. Before working at INVISTA, he held various management positions in operations, technology, sales and business for DuPont.

George Y.V. King ‘69, H’11
Managing Director, Wearbest Garment Manufacturing Co., Ltd.

After George Y.V. King graduated from Philadelphia University in 1969, he returned to his native country of Hong Kong to join his family’s textile business, Wearbest Garment Manufacturing Co., Ltd.

Mr. King has managed his family’s successful business since the early 1970s and serves as its managing director.  Under his leadership, the firm has grown into a global leader in the textile manufacturing industry. The company currently produces clothing for some of the world’s top apparel firms including Gap, Banana Republic, Calvin Klein, Guess, Sasson and others.

In addition to his corporate role, Mr. King is a generous philanthropist, dedicated to funding educational opportunities and access to quality health care around the world, as well as other charitable causes. Mr. King has a strong belief in the responsibility of giving and continued support to enrich the lives of those less privileged.

Eileen J. Martinson ‘86
Chief Executive Officer, Sparta Systems, Inc.

Eileen Martinson, a 1986 Philadelphia University graduate and current Trustee, is CEO of Sparta Systems, Inc. She has an established record of developing successful global business strategies.

Previously, Ms. Martinson was COO of Allscripts, responsible for 4,000 global associates and $1 billion in annual revenue. She also served as executive vice president at Misys, Ariba and SAP America, as well as senior vice president at Oracle Consulting, Siebel and Gartner.

Ms. Martinson promotes quality education through the Martinson Family Foundation and care for wounded veterans through support of USO Wounded Warriors.

Francis J. “Fran” Shammo ‘83
Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Verizon Communications

Fran Shammo, a 1983 Philadelphia University graduate and current Trustee, serves as executive vice president and chief financial officer for Verizon Communications. He oversees the company’s finance and strategic planning operations and financial transaction services.

Since joining Verizon, Mr. Shammo has played an active role in shaping the company’s financial strategy and helping it grow into a global leader.

His past positions at Verizon include president of Verizon Business, vice president and controller for Verizon Wireless, and president and chief executive officer of Verizon Telecom and Business.   “These impressive 2012 honorees represent the highest level of innovative business leadership and serve as inspirations to our students,” said President Spinelli.

In addition to the Evening of Innovation title sponsor, Verizon, and presenting sponsor PVH Corp., other sponsors included Unifi, Inc., Federal-Mogul Corp.,  Sparta Systems, Edison Ventures, Iron Stone Strategic Capital Partners, Martinson Family Foundation, Macy’s, Inc., Mebane Charitable Foundation, CCA, Chico’s, Fox Rothschild, Independence Blue Cross, Parkhurst Dining Services, TD Bank and Wells Fargo.

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