vic krivitskiIt’s never easy to identify the one senior “whose character, scholarship, sportsmanship, and service to others best exemplify the spirit that is Colgate,” and yet every year there can be only one recipient of the 1819 Award.

The 2012 winner was Victor Krivitski ’12, who passed away last August after an eight-month fight with cancer.

In just five semesters at Colgate, Krivitski left an indelible mark. The 21-year-old was a geology major, rugby player, member of the Colgate Geological Society, a WRCU radio host, and recruitment chair of Phi Delta Theta.

At Saturday’s convocation for the Class of 2012, President Jeffrey Herbst quoted a faculty member who knew Krivitski well. “He was exuberant and high-spirited and through his example helped all of us understand how to handle life’s most difficult challenge,” Herbst said. “He showed us how to face our own destinies with an outstretched hand — inviting us to not be afraid of the inevitable but rather to embrace every moment with a contagious sense of humor and deep gratitude.”

Earlier in the program, Krivitski had received a special award from the geology department, so the crowd was all the more surprised and moved when his name was called again, this time for the university’s most prestigious and coveted award. His parents, Victor and Roxane, came to the stage on his behalf.

Victor and Roxane receive their son’s posthumous 1819 award.

“The crowd went nuts,” said Scott Brown, interim vice president and dean of the College. “There was very sustained applause and a standing ovation, and many, many people were moved to tears.”

In addition to his 1819 Award, Krivitski is due to receive an honorary, posthumous bachelor of arts degree at Colgate’s 191st commencement ceremony on Sunday.

After Krivitski’s diagnosis in December 2010 with a rare mediastinal germ cell tumor, fraternity brothers, teammates, and classmates, all rallied around his valiant fight. On a cold day in February 2011, 40 members of Phi Delta Theta shaved their heads in solidarity.

Last year, the rugby team raised $1,200 at Victorpalooza, one of several events held in Krivitski’s honor, and, after finishing the 2012 season 13-0, the team fought harder than ever to earn the right to a spot in the final round of the USA Rugby National Division II Tournament.

Upon Krivitski’s passing, the university community rallied around his memory. Colgate’s Class of 2012 dedicated its senior class gift to him, breaking all previous records and raising nearly $37,000. In all, more than 1,200 people have made a gift to support the Victor Krivitski ’12 Memorial Scholarship, which now contains more than $94,000. The first recipient will be awarded for the 2012-2013 school year.

See a list of all students honored at convocation.