NDNU Elects New Board Members
Belmont, CA, February 28, 2008 — Notre Dame de Namur University elected three longtime supporters of the University to its Board of Trustees this past Wednesday; Joe Putnam, Robert C. Webster, and Dr. Elaine Cohen.
Their names should be familiar to Bay Area residents as all three have been active not only at NDNU, but have made outstanding contributions to their communities as well.
“We were fortunate not only to find one, but three exemplary community advocates who are passionate about NDNU, who can clearly articulate our mission and messages, and who reflect the vision of the University,” said NDNU Acting President, Dr. Judith Maxwell Greig. “Their contributions to NDNU over the years have been enormous and we are pleased to have them on our Board as we move forward to new challenges and success.”
Joe Putnam’s involvement with NDNU began with his late wife Mary Lou. The couple moved from North Dakota to Burlingame more than 40 years ago with their six children, and Joe opened his first California dealership—Putnam Buick. His business has now expanded into 11 franchises which he runs with his sons.
After raising her family, Mary Lou decided to continue her education and received a degree in art history from then CND in 1979. She felt her humble beginning’s in the Dakota’s reflected the University’s mission to challenge students to share what they have learned through service and the promotion of social justice and global peace. Her enthusiasm for NDNU was infectious and soon caught up with Joe. He previously served on NDNU’s Board for 15 years. Mary Lou served for three years until her passing in 2007.
His many other involvements in the community include Board of Directors of Notre Dame High School, member of the board of regents at St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park, an active member of St. Pius in Redwood City, eight years on the Woodside town council, and leadership positions in various auto dealership organizations, including Director of the National Automobile Dealer’s Association. In 2007, he and Mary Lou received the “NDNU Community Spirit Award” to recognize individuals who have demonstrated outstanding community service.
Robert C. Webster was also first introduced to NDNU by his wife, Carla Repetto Webster ’70 and ’73, who also sits on the Board. Robert is currently a real estate broker dealing in residential, commercial, and industrial property. Together, he and Carla own CR Realty in San Francisco.
He holds a B.A. in political science from Stanford University, and a law degree from U.C. Davis School of Law. Until last year, he was co-founder and president of The Lawsmiths of Northern California, Inc., the first major contract service in the country dedicated exclusively to lawyers working on an independent contractor basis. He closed the business after 23 years to devote more time t his real estate ventures. Robert has also worked as a staff attorney and in various management positions for The State Bar of California.
His professional affiliations include the San Francisco Board of Realtors, the California Association of Realtors, past President of the Lawyers’ Club of San Francisco, and an active member of the American Bar Association.
Dr. Elaine Cohen served as the Dean of the Graduate School at then College of Notre Dame (CND) from 1984-2001. She helped shape and nurture 15 master’s degree programs, four credentials in education, and eight professional certificates. Dr. Cohen came to NDNU in 1975 as a faculty member and quickly assumed increasing administrative responsibilities. When she retired in 2001, her many friends and colleagues created an endowed scholarship in her honor, as a way to recognize her outstanding contributions to the University.
While immersing herself in developing and strengthening the graduate programs at NDNU, Dr. Cohen continued to lead a busy life as a wife, mother, and community activist. She and her husband, cardiologist, Dr. George Cohen have three children and five grandchildren.
She has also assisted in fundraising for the University of Pennsylvania, Mills Peninsula Hospital Foundation, the Hillsborough Schools Foundation, and Mission Hospice of San Mateo County.