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Annual Scripps Celebration honors alumni, faculty, staff

Erin Roberts, Alex Koumas | Apr 30, 2012

Annual Scripps Celebration honors alumni, faculty, staff

By Erin Roberts, roberte1@ohio.edu & Alex Koumas, ak289507@ohio.edu

Scripps College Interim Dean Scott Titsworth, John A. Cassese, BSC '76, MA '79, First Lady Deborah McDavis and Ohio University President Roderick McDavis

RIGHT: Scripps College Interim Dean Scott Titsworth, John A. Cassese, BSC '76, MA '79, First Lady Deborah McDavis and Ohio University President Roderick McDavis pause for a photo after the Scripps College Celebration April 29, 2012.

BELOW LEFT: Interim Dean Scott Titsworth presents the Joan Herrold Wood Award for Lifetime Commitment to Xin Liu, MA '96, on behalf of The Enlight Foundation, which was founded and directed by Liu and her husband, Yongping Duan. / Photos by Matt Adams

ATHENS, Ohio (April 30, 2012) – The Scripps College of Communication at Ohio University recognized outstanding faculty and staff and inducted an alumnus and a foundation into the Ohio Communication Hall of Fame on Sunday, April 29, at the Scripps College Celebration in Baker Center on the Ohio University campus.

“We engage in these activities to celebrate the honor of finding and telling stories, of connecting the world, of promoting community,” said Interim Dean Scott Titsworth. “One of the amazing things that I have been able to witness this year is the power of telling stories. Our college has a rich terrain of stories and storytellers.”

While the celebration is a reflection of the year’s accomplishments among Scripps’ students, faculty and staff, it’s also the annual hallmark event of the Ohio Communication Hall of Fame, established by the college in 1993.

This year’s inductees were alumnus John A. Cassese, BSC ’76, MA ’79, and The Enlight Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Palo Alto, Calif., and founded and directed by alumna Xin Liu, MA ’96, and her husband Yongping Duan.

The criteria for induction into the Ohio Communication Hall of Fame are lifetime achievement and a tie to Ohio (either the state or the university).

Cassese, who competed on the forensics team and served as an assistant coach while a graduate student, eventually endowed the John A. Cassese Chair of Forensics, which allows a faculty member to focus their efforts solely on the team. Additionally, he has returned to campus to teach classes focused on helping students understand how corporations communicated to both internal and external audiences. John is a member of the Trustees Academy and has served on both the Ohio University Alumni Board of Directors and the Scripps College of Communication Dean’s Advisory Council.

Cassese was the assistant coach when alumnus Ric Roe competed on the team. On Sunday, Roe was on hand to honor his mentor.

“John, you have always been there for me standing over my shoulder saying, ‘you can do it,’” said Roe. “And, now I can finally look at you and say, ‘John, you did it!’”

Cassese regaled the audience with humorous life stories and even brought the first forensics trophy he won along for a prop.

“I wanted my first award to meet my most recent award,” Cassese said.

Cassese went on to encourage students from the forensics team who attended the event, telling them they wouldn’t just “join the conversation” upon graduation but instead would “be the conversation."

“The words will come to you,” he said, saying that his experiences as a forensics competitor have paid dividends throughout his life and career in communications.

Interim Dean Titsworth and Xin Liu, MA '96 at Ohio UniversityThe Enlight Foundation, inducted under the designation of the Joan Herrold Wood Award for Lifetime Commitment, has given a total of $1.9 million to students and programs in the Scripps College of Communication. The award is earmarked for donors who have had a positive and lasting impact on Ohio University.

In his remarks, President Roderick McDavis expressed appreciation for the Foundation’s support of Scripps programs and commended the Foundation’s work in both the U.S. and in China.

“A common link flows through many of the Foundation’s investments, and that is one of education and multiculturalism,” he said. “The Enlight Foundation gives back because they want to support students and faculty, and because they want to give back to the academic institutions they care about. Xin Liu, who is here tonight to accept this award, is someone who makes us very proud. She is an award-winning photojournalist, and a kind, humble soul.”

Additionally, faculty and staff of the college were recognized. Jeff Redefer, of the School of Media Arts and Studies, won the L.J. Hortin Faculty Mentor Award, which honors faculty who impact students both inside and outside the classroom and before and after graduation. The Dean’s Outstanding Faculty Service Award, established last year to honor a faculty member who goes above and beyond the teacher/researcher role went to Dr. Phyllis Bernt of the J. Warren McClure School of Information and Telecommunication Systems Management. Gayle McKerrow, of the School of Communication Studies won the Employee of the Year Award, while the Student Employees of the Year were Heather Farr, who works in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and Mark Eselgroth, a student assistant in the School of Media Arts and Studies.

Farr, who thought she was writing a story about the event for the journalism school’s website, was surprised and honored for the recognition.

“It was such an honor to receive the student employee of the year award last night,” said Farr. “I have always tried to give back to the college, because so many alumni have helped me throughout these past four years. I will strive to do the same after I graduate.”

Danny Hakim and Russ Buettner, of The New York Times, were also recognized for winning the Farfel Prize for Investigative Journalism, which was presented April 26 in Detroit.

A moment of silence was observed for longtime J. Warren McClure School of Information and Telecommunication Systems Management supporter and board member, Tom Lonsbury, who passed away last weekend after a brief battle with cancer.