Graduates of West Virginia University have been making their mark on the nation and world for more than 145 years, including three extraordinary Mountaineers who were honored by the University for their accomplishments on Friday (Feb. 22).

Kyung Won “K.W.” Lee is known for bringing a voice to poverty in Appalachia, Korean immigrants, and other important national and international stories. Joel Newman has worked throughout his career to ensure our world’s food supply meets the needs of a growing global population while remaining safe for the consumers. Rouzbeh Yassini-Fard is a visionary who connected the world with the invention of the cable modem.

These extraordinary accomplishments have earned them a spot in the WVU Alumni Association’s prestigious Academy of Distinguished Alumni – the highest honor awarded to WVU alumni. The trio were honored during a reception and induction ceremony on Friday, Feb. 22, at The Erickson Alumni Center.

“When you look at the impact these Mountaineers have had on both our nation and world, it is truly impressive,” said Stephen L. Douglas, President & CEO, WVU Alumni Association. “It is uplifting to the entire WVU community to know that WVU played a role in helping mold their success.”

Kyung Won “K.W.” Lee

Lee made his mark as the “godfather of Asian American journalism.” He immigrated to the United States in 1950 on a student visa and earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Perley Isaac School of Journalism. After completing his master’s degree at the University of Illinois in 1955, Lee became the first Asian immigrant hired by a mainstream daily newspaper.

K.W. took the journalism world by storm when he initiated a series of investigatory pieces on Korean immigrant Chol Soo Lee who was racially profiled and wrongfully convicted for murder in 1973. His articles brought the case national and international attention.

Over the course of five years, from Chol Soo Lee’s retrial and subsequent acquittal, K.W. produced over 100 articles shedding light on Chol Soo Lee’s plight and the inconsistencies surrounding his first trial. These papers are now archived at the University of California, Davis.

To K.W., the Chol Soo Lee movement demonstrated a lack of political voice and community organization among Korean Americans. In response he founded the Koreatown Weekly, which was in publication for five years, and later established the English Edition to the Korea Times in Los Angeles. Lee also founded the Korean American Journalists Association at a time when only a half dozen fellow Koreans worked in mainstream media. Now they number an estimated 250 journalists.

During his career, he has received numerous awards and distinctions, including the Asian American Journalists Association’s first ever Lifetime Achievement Award, the John Anson Ford Award by the Human Relations Commission of L.A. County, and the Free Spirit Award from the Freedom Forum in 1994 – making him the first Asian American to receive the award. In 1997, he was inducted into the Newseum’s Journalism History Gallery. In 2000, he was profiled in “Crusaders, Scoundrels, Journalists: The Newseum’s Most Intriguing Newspeople,” alongside the fellow “barrier breakers” W.E.B. DuBois, Alice Stone Blackwell, and Randy Shilts.

Now in semi-retirement, K.W. continues to serve as a voice for the Korean American community. He has lectured on investigative journalism in communities of color, inspiring a new generation of Asian American journalists seeking social justice and fair representation for their communities.

Joel G. Newman

Newman, a native of West Mifflin, Pa., is president and Chief Executive Officer of the American Feed Industry Association, the world’s largest organization devoted exclusively to representing business, legislative and regulatory interests of the animal feed industry and its suppliers. The feed industry makes a major contribution to food safety, nutrition and the environment, and association members manufacture more than 75 percent of the commercial feed in the United States.

In this role, Newman has been recognized for his leadership in working with Congress, regulatory agencies (at the national and state levels) and universities to increase the safety and abundance of our food supply and to meet the growing global demand, while protecting the economic viability of the industry. Newman’s leadership has been considered a critical component in the industry’s adoption of the association’s voluntary feed and food safety certification program, which is a comprehensive set of standards of excellence that have been recognized by the Food and Drug Administration as a factor used in its risk assessment of industry operations. Newman has expanded the feed industry initiative to include prominent global industry involvement in the areas of feed and food safety, trade, research and education. He has traveled globally representing the U.S. feed industry and has been invited to speak to groups in England, Italy, Switzerland, Japan, Brazil, China, and South Africa, among others.

He is a director of the International Feed Industry Federation, headquartered in the United Kingdom, where he chairs the Policy Committee and led the establishment of the annual International Feed Regulators Conference. He is an appointed member of the U. S. Secretary of Agriculture’s Agriculture Technical Advisory Committee, where he advises the U.S. Department of Agriculture on negotiations of international trade agreements and other trade-related issues. Newman serves on the U.S. Delegation for Codex Alimentarius, which establishes global food safety and trade standards. He also served on President Obama’s Food Safety Initiative and led the establishment of the Institute for Feed Education and Research, where he serves as president.

Newman served in several positions prior to joining the American Feed Industry Association, from sales to CEO leadership, where he was recognized for successfully “turning around” and strategically growing businesses in various agri-business segments, including retail, petroleum, food processing, agronomy and commercial feed.

Newman received his bachelor’s degree in animal science in 1971 from the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and & Design and his MBA from Syracuse University. In addition to his numerous philanthropic and community service activities, Newman also has maintained strong ties to WVU, serving as a member of Davis College’s Comprehensive Campaign Committee and assisting in the development of a mentorship program. In 2012, he gave the Davis College commencement address.

Rouzbeh Yassini-Fard

Rouzbeh Yassini-Fard is founder and CEO of YAS Capital Partners LLC. He has gained an international reputation as a broadband visionary for inventing the cable modem. He also received recognition for the establishment of cable modem industry standards (DOCSIS) through Cable Television Laboratories.

Yassini is well known in industry circles as the “father of the cable modem.” CED Magazine named him “1998 Man of the Year” for creating and fostering the multibillion-dollar cable modem broadband industry.

Yassini is the author of Planet Broadband, a humanized look at broadband technology. The NCTA awarded him with a 2004 Vanguard Award, one of the Cable Industry’s highest honors, in recognition of his contributions and dedication to the industry. The Cable Television Pioneers also inducted Yassini into the Class of 2012 for his tremendous contributions to the cable industry.

As founder of YAS, he has served as a board member on a number of privately and publicly held companies. He has served as a senior executive consultant with CableLabs, Comcast, Cablevision, and as a member of the LGI Advisory Technology Board.

In 2008, Yassini opened the Yassini Broadband Knowledge Center in Boston (Broadband Center for Excellence), offering research grants and facilities to investigate fresh ideas in broadband technology that will improve the way we work and live.

Yassini was born in Tehran, Iran, and immigrated to the United States in 1977, where he made Morgantown his home. He received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources in 1981 and an honorary Doctor of Science from WVU in 2003. He also holds an Honorary Ph.D. from Merrimack College, as well as an MBA equivalent from General Electric’s Financial Management Program.

The Academy is open to the public and begins with a reception at 6 p.m., followed by dinner/induction ceremony at 7 p.m. To make a reservation, contact the WVU Alumni Association at 304-293-0972. For more information, visit



CONTACT: Tara Curtis, WVU Alumni Association

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