OHIO alumni gather at the Athletic Club in Columbus before lunch.
Photographer: Ben Siegel
Guest and newly-appointed appointed Chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents John Carey (AB ’81), talks with David Brightbill (BSED ’70), and Tim Miller (BSJ ’75) center.
Photographer: Ben Siegel
From left, Jim Tilling, former political science professor, President Roderick J. McDavis and Mark Weinberg.
Photographer: Ben Siegel
May 13, 2013
By Kelee Riesbeck
The more than 150 Ohio University alumni who have worked in service to the state of Ohio were honored at OHIO’s 30th Annual State Government Alumni Luncheon Wed., May 8, at the Athletic Club in Columbus. The event was hosted by Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis on behalf of OHIO’s George V. Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs. Two OHIO alumni received the Outstanding State Government Alumni Award at the event in recognition for their outstanding service to the state.
Director of the Voinovich School, Professor of Leadership and Public Affairs and the luncheon’s coordinator since its inception Mark Weinberg praised OHIO’s alumni as being “central to building our great University.”
“The culmination of their efforts in the area of public affairs specifically is the creation of the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, a new approach to public affairs education at OHIO that is a multidisciplinary ‘do tank’ for the university, state, region and nation,” Weinberg said. “Together, the Voinovich School and its college partners across the university will help garner OHIO national recognition in social innovation and entrepreneurship for government, business and nonprofits."
The Outstanding State Government Alumni Awards went to former Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives Jo Ann Davidson and well-known journalist and Adjunct Assistant Professor at OHIO’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism’s Thomas Suddes. The honor recognizes Ohio University alumni for outstanding achievements in public service and for their significant professional achievements (see sidebar for details on Davidson’s and Suddes’s careers).
In his keynote address McDavis first thanked OHIO grads with careers in public service for all they have done for Ohio.
“It is because of you that Ohio University holds a place of prominence and distinguished legacy of public service to our state,” said McDavis, himself a 1970 graduate of The Patton College of Education.
In his remarks, McDavis reflected on the 30-year luncheon tradition, which “began as a way to recognize former OHIO students’ contributions to state government and, more importantly, to systematically involve alumni in the development of public affairs programs at Ohio University,” he said. McDavis provided the example of the Department of Political Science’s Public Affairs internship program, which was started in 1974 by former OHIO political science faculty member Jim Tilling as a way OHIO involves students in state government. McDavis then announced that Jim and his wife Cathy recently established the James R. and Cathy L. Tilling Endowed Scholarship of Leadership and Public Affairs at the Voinovich School.
“This is the first scholarship at the Voinovich School and we hope its establishment will pave the way for many more in the years ahead,” McDavis said.
McDavis went on to relay OHIO’s vision for being “the nation’s best transformative learning community,” its commitment to making an OHIO education accessible to all, and touted the strength of its regional campuses for “providing additional points of access to nontraditional students, and skills training that benefit their home communities.” McDavis also spoke about an additional step the university is taking toward becoming a transformational university called “OHIO for Ohio,” or Ohio University for the state of Ohio. McDavis said the initiative’s theme reflects OHIO’s core value of strong public service.
“It links our transformative learning community with our state’s economic progress and vitality. OHIO for Ohio reflects the fact that everything we do elevates Ohio’s potential for economic development and cultural fulfillment.”
OHIO alumnus and current Ohio University Trustee David Brightbill said the luncheon gives him an opportunity to interact with alumni who serve the state and to thank them for their contributions.
“Ohio University alumni have a long and productive tradition of great service to the state of Ohio and to non-profit organizations,” said Brightbill, also a 1970 graduate of The Patton College of Education. He is the current executive director of the Community Action Program Corporation of Washington-Morgan Counties. “The luncheon helps to keep this network talking, reminiscing, and visioning for the future: it keeps the forum going.”
Recent alumna Rebecca Cochran said attending her first State Government Alumni Luncheon served to energize her passion for public service.
“I’ve always known OHIO is a special place,” said Cochran, a 2012 E.W. Scripps School of Journalism graduate and a Voinovich School research scholar. “I didn’t know that transitioning into being an OHIO alumna meant being connected with this contingent of passionate people who do such good work for the state of Ohio. It has really energized me.” Cochran is currently a fellow with the Ohio Legislative Service Commission and works with Stark County, Ohio State Senator Scott Oelslager.
Jo Ann Davidson
During her 20 year legislative career, Davidson became the first woman elected as Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives in 1995 and served in that capacity until 2001. Davidson also served as Chair of the Republican National Committee from 2005 to 2008. She is founder of the Jo Ann Davidson Leadership Institute, an eight-month program held yearly that encourages and trains women to assume prominent roles, whether elected or appointed, in both government and in the Republican Party. Davidson holds an honorary Doctor of Law degree from Ohio University and is currently Chair of the Ohio Casino Control Commission.
Thomas Suddes, a native of Youngstown, earned a bachelor of arts in journalism degree from Ohio State University, a master’s degree in journalism in 2002 and a doctoral degree in mass communication in 2009, both from Ohio University’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. He was a member of Phi Kappa Phi, the national all-discipline academic honor society, and Kappa Tau Alpha, the national academic honor society for journalism and mass communication.
Suddes wrote for various newspapers before joining Cleveland’s The Plain Dealer in 1982, where he is now an associate editor of the editorial page. He writes a weekly column on state politics and government for The Plain Dealer, The Columbus Dispatch and the Dayton Daily News and also serves as an adjunct assistant professor at OHIO’s E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. Suddes coordinates the school’s Statehouse News Bureau fellowships.
Every Friday for the last 13 years, at the request of the staff of The Post, OHIO’s daily independent student newspaper, Suddes holds a critique of the paper’s news reporting for that week.