July 25, 2017
This fall during Orange Central, the Syracuse University Alumni Association will recognize four exceptional alumni for excellence and innovation in their fields during the Arents Awards Celebration. The Arents Award is Syracuse University’s highest alumni honor.
The 2017 Arents Award recipients boast diverse and successful backgrounds. They are: Tom Coughlin ’68, G’69, a decorated National Football League coach; Daniel A. D’Aniello ’68, co-founder of a successful global asset management company and a committed philanthropist; Diane Nelson ’89, president of DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Consumer Products; and Mary Spio ’98, a pioneer in digital cinema and virtual reality.
The Arents Award honors the legacy of George Arents, a successful manufacturer who served on the Syracuse University Board of Trustees from 1930 until his death in 1960.
The Arents Awards Celebration on Friday, Oct. 6, will begin with a cocktail party from 5-6 p.m. in the Panasci Lounge, Schine Student Center, followed by a dinner and awards presentation from 6-8:30 p.m. in Goldstein Auditorium, Schine Student Center.
Spio is the CEO and president of CEEK VR Inc., a developer of innovative virtual and augmented reality content solutions and experiences. Her companies have created content and technologies used by such global titans as Lucasfilm, Universal Music Group, Miami Children’s Hospital, Microsoft XBOX, Tribune News, Clear Channel and Boeing.
Under Spio’s leadership, CEEK has created virtual reality experiences for entertainment, health care and education. CEEK VR’s recent virtual reality experience produced for Universal Music Group won the prestigious Silver CLIO award, edging out Disney’s Star Wars and Intel’s Lady Gaga Experience in the same award category. The Universal Music virtual reality experience also captured a 2017 Grammy Award for Best Performance.
A veteran of the U.S. Air Force, Spio holds several patents in real-time streaming and virtual reality technologies. Spio is an accomplished novelist and screenwriter (“A Song for Carmine”) and bestselling author (“It’s Not Rocket Science: 7 Game-Changing Traits for Achieving Uncommon Success”), in which she shares inspirational stories meant to spur readers to move beyond their comfort zones to create impact and significance.
Spio earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the College of Engineering and Computer Science, and a master’s degree in electrical engineering and computer science from Georgia Institute of Technology.
An innovation and entrepreneurship evangelist, Spio works with the U.S. Department of State in a global innovation and entrepreneurship outreach program. Born in Syracuse and raised in Ghana, Spio has traveled extensively, giving presentations in dozens of countries, including China, Mexico, Russia, Pakistan, Ukraine and South Africa.
Spio’s visionary work has earned her the Yueh-Ying Hu Memorial National Award for Innovation, the Boeing Outstanding Achievement in Electrical Engineering Award and Essence magazine’s New Power Generation Award. Along with Oprah Winfrey, Spio landed on NBC News’s 100 History Makers in the Making. Spio currently serves on the advisory boards of Amazon and Oculus VR for Good.
For more on the Arents Awards and the other SU alumni being honored – click here.