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Downes, Grabiec Honored with President's Medallion

FRIDAY, MAY 25, 2018 - 12:05 PM All News
  • Dr. Sharianne Walker, Coach Bill Downes, and President Anthony S. Caprio

  • Dean Richard Grabiec with President Anthony S. Caprio

It is increasingly rare these days to find somebody who spends more than fifty years at a single workplace. Two men who have done just that were recently honored at Western New England University for their service to the institution and its students. 

Coach Arthur William “Red” Downes and Assistant Dean of Engineering Richard Grabiec were each presented the prestigious President’s Medallion Award during the undergraduate commencement ceremony May 19.

Introducing Grabiec to the thousands in attendance, University Trustee Stanley Kowalski III praised Grabiec as a caring mentor who spent the past 52 years “helping our students to launch careers though which they have changed the world.” University President Anthony S. Caprio cited Grabiec’s “leadership, enthusiasm, and dedication that have guided generations of our students and alumni to success.” Caprio was quick to note that students will continue to benefit as Grabiec continues in his role within the College of Engineering.

Downes is a revered figure within Western New England University athletics. He is retiring after 50 years of coaching various Golden Bear teams, including 33 years at the helm of the the men’s golf team. Downes joined the University in 1968 and advanced through the athletics and academic ranks. Besides golf, he coached soccer, basketball, and baseball while serving as Professor of Physical Education until retiring from the faculty in 2000 and named Professor Emeritus. He was one of the first inductees into the University’s Athletics Hall of Fame, which now bears his name.

It was not the only special moment of the day for Downes. He was on stage a short time later to present a diploma to his grandson, Michael Downes Metcalf, who graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor of science in business administration. Metcalf was a standout for the men’s golf team which reached the NCAA Division III Tournament under Downes’ leadership this season.

The President’s Medallion Award is bestowed upon those who have distinguished themselves in a particular field or in service to an important cause that has benefited society. The President’s Medallion also recognizes individuals in a variety of fields who are role models worthy of emulation by all, particularly the students and alumni of Western New England University.