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2023 Awardees

Every year, the Ohio University Alumni Association recognizes the outstanding achievements of OHIO alumni through the Alumni Awards.

Meet the winners of the 2023 Alumni Awards honored at the 2023 Homecoming Alumni Awards Ceremony.


Perry Sook headshot.

Alumnus of the Year


Alumnus of the Year Perry Sook’s 43 years of professional experience in the television and radio broadcasting industries – year which saw him cover all facets of the business, including ownership and M&A, management, sales, on-air talent, and news — began right here in Athens, earning his Bachelor of Science in Communication from what is now known as OHIO’s Scripps College of Communication. Sook began his career in local television, both on camera and in TV/radio ad sales, working his way up from smaller affiliate markets to national level account management roles. He then joined Seaway Communications, was President/CEO of Seaway Communication, Inc., owner of network affiliated stations in two states; he soon became one of the principals of Superior Communication Group, Inc., (sold in 1995 to Sinclair Broadcast Group.) With a single Scranton-based television station, Sook founded Nexstar in 1996, building the foundation of what’s become the nation’s largest broadcast television operator, and one of the world’s leading local marketing and traditional, digital and mobile media content companies. Sook has continued to invest and innovate, from the 2020 launch of NewsNation, America’s fastest growing cable news network and Nexstar investment in The CW Network and other popular channels, and continued innovation of Nexstar’s digital properties including The Hill and BestReviews. In June 2023, Mr. Sook was elected Chair of the Joint Board of Directors of the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), He also serves on the Board of Directors of Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI), the Board of the Broadcasters Foundation of America, and he is the proud chair of The Ohio University Foundation Board of Trustees. He and his wife Sandra have three children: Laura, Victoria and Perry, Jr. They reside in Flower Mound, TX.


Ariel Armony headshot.

Medal of Merit Award


Higher-education thought leader, scholar and global citizen Ariel C. Armony — a proud immigrant of Argentina — has dedicated his life and career to making ours a more just and equitable world. From his current work as Vice Chancellor for Global Affairs, Director of the Center for International Studies and Chief International Officer for the University of Pittsburgh, and membership on the Pennsylvania Advisory Committee of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, to his previous positions as University of Miami’s Director of the Miami Institute for Advanced Studies of the Americas, and various fellowships, endowments and visiting/honorary professorships, Armony (a 2008 Fulbright Scholar) is an expert in global education and human rights violations, working with numerous agencies and organizations. Together with his wife Mirna Kolbowski, MAIA ’92, he was instrumental in the creation of OHIO’s Thomas and Anne Walker Latin American Studies Endowment Fund.


Larry Small headshot.

Medal of Merit Award


Before earning his Ph.D. at OHIO, Larry Small attended Kent State University, where he earned a B.S. in speech pathology and audiology, and an M.A. in audiology. Now retired, he was an associate professor at Bowling Green State University and professor emeritus at Ohio State University, teaching courses phonetics, hearing science and audiology. Along the way, he published the textbook “Fundamentals of Phonetics: A Practical Guide for Students,” the nation’s leading phonetics textbook, with a sixth edition in the works. Small’s passion for his chosen field led him to establish a scholarship in OHIO’s School of Rehabilitation and Communication Sciences for a first-year audiology student entering the Doctor of Audiology (AuD) program.


Brian Stultz headshot.

Medal of Merit Award


Brian Stulz still remembers the feeling of arriving at Ohio University. “Walking into a building, an entire building, devoted only to teaching, studying and creating art. It was mind-blowing, having grown up in a small industrial town,” he remembers. Since that time, Stulz has devoted his 40-year career in the motion picture industry blowing the minds of movie lovers as a top production designer and art director for Sweet Home Alabama, Remember the Titans, and blockbuster hits from the Fast & Furious and Marvel Studios franchises. Stulz is the recipient of the 2008 Art Directors Guild Award for Excellence for Little Britain USA and the 2019 Art Directors Guild Award for Excellence for Avengers: Endgame.


Yvette Alexander Slate headshot.

Distinguished Service Award


Yvette Alexander Slate’s experiences at Ohio University (earning a bachelor’s degree in Sociology / Criminology) were truly transformative. “OU contributed to my success in business development and personal coaching as well as in pursuing my passion for service to others,” she remembers. That passion sparked the 2006 launch of her business development coaching firm Carried The Bag, LLC., offering manufacturing industry sales strategies and leadership coaching to business owners. “Coach Yvette” guides them to grow, gain confidence and sharpen personal skills with unique models that fuse intuitive talents, perceptive listening and a sales philosophy based on her more than 20 years of business experience. As an Executive Advisory Board and Steering Committee Member at the College of Business, and Executive Committee Board Member of the Schey Sales Centre, Slate helps drive OHIO forever forward. Slate is a Faculty Member at Otterbein University and Member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She holds a master’s degree at Cleveland State University, where she became a Certified Diversity Practitioner, infusing cultural competency with her customized one-on-one coaching and group sessions.


Clarke Vandervort headshot.

Distinguished Service Award


R. Clarke Vandervort arrived on campus in the summer of 1971 straight from the United States Marine Corps, already a Vietnam combat veteran. He remembers, “I felt a connection to the University community immediately. The University placed me in a single room in a graduate dormitory. I appreciated very much the consideration for my circumstances as I transitioned from an intensely military experience.” He majored in Classical Languages and Literatures, graduating summa cum laude before earning his J.D. from West Virginia University College of Law. Vandervort earned membership in the Ohio and West Virginia state bars and corresponding Federal Courts including the United States Supreme Court. As an attorney, Vandervort often represented clients pro bono. Vandervort was then appointed a United States Magistrate Judge for the Southern District of West Virginia, Beckley and Bluefield Divisions until his retirement. He was instrumental in establishing the Clarke VanDervort Support and Scholarship Fund to facilitate study abroad opportunities, academic achievement and research in the study of the humanities. He is also an active supporter of OHIO’s Center for Law, Justice and Culture, where he is currently developing an endowment. In 2017, he was an Ohio University Notable Alumnus.


Marty Wall headshot.

Distinguished Service Award


After 24 years as Executive Director of the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry, Marty Walls retired in 2015 and became an executive coach and Certified Professional Coach, doing pro bono work with nonprofit and association professionals. Wall, who says his connection with Ohio University has only grown stronger since retirement, also provides volunteer career coaching with Ohio University political science undergraduate and graduate students. Working with the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service, he has established multiple internships and scholarships, as well as a visiting professorship, some as planned gifts. Wall holds a Master of Public Administration degree from American University and an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters from Southern College of Optometry.


Michelle Connavino headshot.

Charles J. and Claire O. Ping Recent Graduate Award


As a student at OHIO, Michelle Connavino participated in the Consortium of Overseas Student Teaching (COST) and completed her student teaching in South Africa. That trip sparked a love of international travel that has led her to six continents in the 15 years since. Today, Connavino is deputy director of PRE4CLE, a program working to expand access to high-quality preschool to all 3 and 4-year-olds in the city of Cleveland. Previously, she worked as liaison for the Center for Educational Leadership at Cleveland State University and as a middle school teacher. Connavino earned her M.A. at Teachers College, Columbia University.



Honorary Alumni Award


Patricia Muck accepts the Honorary Alumna Award with loving memories of her late husband, Philip Muck, BSCOM ’62. The couple married while both were attending Ohio University. Philip and Patricia Muck and their family have been generous donors of their time, talent and treasure to OHIO. Their support spans numerous areas of the University, from Athletics, study abroad opportunities and the Marching 110 to myriad initiatives within the College of Business; they also provided critical support to the college’s newest collaborative learning space: The Phil and Pat Muck Business Annex With Patricia’s support, Philip served on OHIO’s Third Century Campaign Committee, and the College of Business’ Society of Alumni and Friends. He served on the board of directors of Family House, an organization dedicated to supporting organ transplant candidates and their families, and chaired the Multiple Sclerosis Society, among many other examples of leadership that will long resonate in our community and beyond.



The Kermit Blosser Ohio Athletics Hall of Fame




Dr. Savannah Seigneur is a physician who works at a Level 1 trauma center, working mostly with the inner-city Phoenix community. She is an adjunct faculty member at Midwestern University Medical School. Despite her full schedule, she finds time to volunteer, instructing medical students with a focus on wilderness medicine. A former professional softball player, Seigneur was captain of OHIO’s Varsity Softball Team from 2015 to 2017 and says her favorite memory of Ohio University is winning the MAC championship in 2014. While in Athens, she founded and led the Survivor Advocacy Group for Athletes and was inducted into the Gold Humanism Honor Society.


JACK LEVECK headshot.


An OHIO Bobcats football standout, Jack LeVeck was named leading tackler his sophomore, junior and senior years, as well as co-captain and Most Valuable Player his senior year. He went on to three years in the NFL with the St. Louis Cardinals (1974-1975) and the Cleveland Browns (1976), before retiring from the league for a sales career with sports giants Nike and Reebok. Today, Leveck volunteers his time as an assistant football coach for Hillsdale High School and is a YMCA flag football assistant coach in Ashland, Ohio.


MATT ENGLEKA headshot.


Matt Engleka served as president and CEO of LEJ Sports Group for 25 years. A boutique sports marketing and event management company based in Atlanta, LEJ Sports Group specializes in creating and implementing national youth sports initiatives for sports leagues and governing bodies including Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the United States Tennis Association and the United States Olympic Committee. During his 25-year tenure at LEJ Sports Group, Engleka was proud to hire seven Bobcats at LEJ Sports Group (which had a staff of six). Now retired, Engleka was recently diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease; he asks all Bobcats to learn more about supporting the fight at