On Friday, April 5, the New York University Alumni Association (NYUAA) will recognize six outstanding alumni from across the University for their exceptional personal and professional achievements and contributions to society. This year’s honorees include US Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (LAW ’97), Broadway producer Emanuel Azenberg (ARTS '55), professor and chemist Neil Garg (CAS ’00), musical duo A Great Big World members Ian Axel (STEINHARDT '07) and Chad King (STEINHARDT ’07), and activist and social entrepreneur Erin Schrode (CAS ’13), whose successes and commitments within their communities and around the world exemplify the NYU spirit.

Learn more about this year’s Keogh Award and Distinguished Alumni Award honorees below and read next month’s Connect to learn about the other 2019 award recipients. Registration for the 2019 Awards luncheon, which will be held on Friday, April 5 from 12:00–2:00 PM at Gotham Hall in New York City, will open soon. The event will be hosted by NYU President Andrew Hamilton and NYUAA President Brian Levine (GSAS ’03, MED ’08).

Hakeem Jeffries (LAW ’97)
Eugene J. Keogh Award for Distinguished Public Service

Hakeem Jeffries (LAW ’97)

Hakeem Jeffries (LAW ’97) represents the diverse Eighth Congressional District of New York, encompassing large parts of Brooklyn and a section of Queens. Serving his third term in the United States Congress, Rep. Jeffries is a member of the House Judiciary Committee and House Budget Committee. 

Rep. Jeffries is Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. In that capacity, he is the fifth highest-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives.  He is also the former Whip of the Congressional Black Caucus

 and previously co-chaired the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee where he helped develop the For The People agenda.

In Congress, Rep. Jeffries has emerged as a tireless advocate for social and economic justice. He has worked hard to help residents impacted by the devastation of Superstorm Sandy, reform our criminal justice system, improve the economy for everyday Americans, and protect health care.

Prior to his election to Congress, Rep. Jeffries served for six years in the New York State Assembly. In that capacity, he authored laws to protect the civil liberties of law-abiding New Yorkers during police encounters, encourage the transformation of vacant luxury condominiums into affordable homes for working families, and improve the quality of justice in the civil court system.

Congressman Jeffries obtained his bachelor’s degree in political science from the State University of New York at Binghamton. He then received his master’s degree in public policy from Georgetown University, and attended New York University School of Law, where he graduated magna cum laude and served on Law Review.

Rep. Jeffries was born in Brooklyn Hospital, raised in Crown Heights, and is a product of New York City’s public school system. He lives in Prospect Heights with his family.

Emanuel Azenberg (ARTS ’55)
Distinguished Alumnus Award

Emanuel Azenberg (ARTS ’55)  Distinguished Alumnus Award

Emanuel Azenberg (ARTS ’55) graduated from NYU and served in the US Army as a first lieutenant with the 25th Infantry Division. Azenberg landed his first job in the theatre in 1959, assisting in company management on Broadway. He became a producer in his own right with The Lion in Winter (1966) and won his first Tony Award when Ain’t Misbehavin’ (1978) took Best Musical. His second came two years later for Mark Medoff’s play Children of a Lesser God (1980).

In his more than three-decade career, Azenberg has presented more than 65 productions on Broadway, including more than 20 of Neil Simon’s plays. Among his many Broadway credits are Children Of A Lesser God (1980), Master Harold….And The Boys (1982), The Real Thing (1984), Sunday In The Park With George (1984), Whoopi Goldberg (1984), Long Day’s Journey Into Night (1986), Jerome Robbins’ Broadway (1989), Side Show (1997), The Iceman Cometh (1999), Stones In His Pockets (2001), Private Lives (London, 2001; Broadway, 2002), Movin’ Out (2002), La Boheme (2002), Macbeth (2008),  Ragtime (2009). 

Azenberg’s stage productions have earned 149 Tony Award nominations and 43 Tony Awards. Additionally, Azenberg produced the films Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead, Sunday In The Park With George, Master Harold And The Boys, and Broadway Bound.   

Azenberg taught at Duke University for 25 years. He is a member of the Theatre Hall of Fame and the 2012 recipient of the Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre.

Neil Garg (CAS ’00) 
Distinguished Alumnus Award

Neil Garg (CAS ’00)     Distinguished Alumnus Award

Neil Garg (CAS ’00), originally from Fishkill, NY, received a BS in chemistry from New York University. During his time at NYU, Garg performed undergraduate research with Professor Marc Walters, served as a Resident Assistant in the NYU dormitories, and was a teaching assistant for general chemistry courses. He received the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award from the College of Arts and Science in 1999 and graduated in 2000.

Garg went on to obtain a PhD in 2005 from Caltech before performing NIH-sponsored postdoctoral studies at the University of California, Irvine. Garg joined the faculty at UCLA in 2007. He was promoted to associate professor in 2012 and to full professor in 2013. He has served as vice chair for the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry (2012–2016), where he was responsible for educational initiatives. He currently serves as Faculty-in-Residence in the UCLA undergraduate community. In 2018, Garg was appointed as the inaugural holder of the Kenneth N. Trueblood Endowed Chair in Chemistry and Biochemistry.

Garg’s laboratory develops synthetic strategies and methodologies that enable the synthesis of complex bioactive molecules. His recent research-related honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Thieme–IUPAC Prize, the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Merck Award, and the Elias J. Corey Award from the American Chemical Society. He is a Fellow of the American Chemical Society, the Royal Society of Chemistry, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Garg cherishes the opportunity to teach at the graduate and undergraduate levels. He has received several recognitions for his educational contributions, including the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching’s California’s Professor of the Year Award and the Higher Education Award from the Royal Society of Chemistry. Recently, he competed for and won the 2018 Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching.