An audience of nearly 400 alumni, faculty, administrators, family and friends gathered to celebrate Northwestern University’s 81st annual Alumni Awards April 12. The top award of the program, the Alumni Medal, was given to Dennis H. Chookaszian '65, a University Life Trustee and retired chairman and CEO of CNA Insurance Companies. Watch the tribute video to Chookaszian below.



The Alumni Medal is the mark of highest distinction granted to a Northwestern alumnus or alumna who has achieved eminence in his or her community and field of endeavor and who has rendered exceptional service to the University, bringing honor to Northwestern. This year’s winner, Chookaszian, credits his time at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science with launching a career that culminated in his becoming chairman and CEO of CNA Insurance Companies. “It gave me the confidence to know that there wasn’t anything that I couldn’t do,” he says. “No business problem seemed complicated to me after studying engineering.”


While his career did not follow a traditional engineering path, he says courses on creative thinking and entrepreneurship gave him the tools to succeed in business. He held several executive roles during his 26-year tenure at CNA, including serving as chief financial officer, chairman and CEO, and chairman of its executive committee, and was named the Financial Times’ Outstanding Director in 2010. Chookaszian also served for five years as chairman of the Financial Accounting Standards Advisory Council. Since retiring, he has served on the boards of 11 public companies and 50 private companies.

Chookaszian has given back to the University in many significant ways. He serves as a Life Trustee and is a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board at the Kellogg School of Management, the McCormick Advisory Council and the Northwestern Memorial Foundation’s Board of Directors. He and his wife, Karen, have given to several areas of the University, including McCormick and the Kellogg School of Management.


Read more about the 2014 Northwestern Alumni Association Awards at