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Russ College graduates awarded Alumnus of Year, Medal of Merit; alumni celebrate at tailgate

Colleen Carow and Marissa McDaid | Oct 14, 2019
Homecoming Gala 2019

Russ College graduates awarded Alumnus of Year, Medal of Merit; alumni celebrate at tailgate

Colleen Carow and Marissa McDaid | Oct 14, 2019

Alumni of the Russ College of Engineering and Technology had a couple extra things to cheer about during Ohio University’s Homecoming weekend.

At the Ohio University Alumni Association's Annual Awards Gala at Baker University Center’s ballroom on Friday evening, Retired Brig. Gen. Mark C. Arnold, BSISE ’82, was named Alumnus of the Year; and Board of Visitors Chair Robert Emmett Boyle, MS ’70, was awarded one of five Medal of Merit Awards.

Thousands of OHIO alumni converged on campus to celebrate this year’s theme, “1804 And So Much More,” which commemorated the university’s 215-year legacy.

Arnold, who was honored as a “decorated patriot, accomplished business leader and unwavering bobcat,” holds 37 years of military service, including three combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq in special operations task forces. This parallels his 30-year corporate career, in which he was recruited by General Electric, Advanced Drainage Systems Inc., the Lubrizol Corporation and GSE Environmental, a multinational manufacturing company that saw record profits under his leadership as president and CEO.

“Mark Arnold has devoted himself to a life of service – to his country, to his career in business, to his community, and to his alma mater. When not serving his country or excelling in corporate America, he has been building his legacy at Ohio University,” said Ohio University President M. Duane Nellis before welcoming Arnold to the stage. “He is a man who embodies the inscription on our beloved Alumni Gateway, who departed his student journey here at Ohio University and has steadfastly served his country, his fellow men and, might I add, women.”

In his acceptance speech, Arnold, a former recipient of the Medal of Merit, said his two careers enabled him to be close to many marvelous and highly talented people.  

“When I was notified by the Alumni Association about this award, it made me reflect why I remain connected to Ohio University: it’s the amazing people who make this university – specifically, the professors who were marvelous at teaching and mentoring,” said Arnold, who was joined at the event by his wife, Karin, BSCS ‘81, and children Kristen and Eric, BSME ‘15.

Arnold cited his calculus professor, Sam Jasper, saying he hopes many of the hundreds of alumni Dr. Jasper touched while they were students contribute to a scholarship that Arnold and Karin established this year in his memory. Arnold, a member of the Ohio University Foundation Board of Trustees and Russ College Board of Visitors, also recognized former Chair of the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering Bob Williams, Sr.; and the late Helmut Zwahlen.     

“Each of these teachers and leaders provided not just lessons and education; they provided individual encouragement to me as an engineering student in a curriculum that was a bit intimidating.”

The Medal of Merit is awarded to alumni who have achieved distinction within their fields. Boyle was honored as “engineering and executive extraordinaire.” He was instrumental in designing the devices and systems as part of NASA’s Gemini Spacecraft project. At Kaiser Aluminum, he became corporate manager of engineering, later serving as chairman, CEO and sole owner of Ormet Corp. for nearly 20 years. He now manages the Elmwood Group, a management advisory firm.

Boyle was unable to attend, but his fellow alumni offered their support.

“Emmett has not only proven himself to be a strong leader and very capable executive but has given freely of his time, talent and treasure to his alma mater,” said Chuck Stuckey, BSME ’66, HON ’05.

Boyle’s award will be bestowed upon him in December.

Saturday morning, Russ College alumni, friends and family gathered at Tailgreat Park post-parade to enjoy food and company before the OHIO football game against Northern Illinois. Student Engineering Ambassadors greeted guests and networked with alumni.

“It’s great conversing with alumni and hearing about all the great things everyone has done,” said former Engineering Ambassador Andrew Videmsek, BSEE ’18.

OHIO chemical and biomolecular engineering alumna Abigail Allen, BSCHE ’17, MS ’18, noted she makes it back to Athens semi-regularly to visit family and friends at the university.

“We come back a few times a year and make a point to come back for Homecoming,” she said. “It’s always fun. We come back for the people, the school and the surroundings.”

Arnold ended his remarks Friday night on a similar note – and with an appeal to OHIO’s faculty and staff.

“Ohio University is known for educating great future teachers, and I believe we should celebrate that we are also a center of gravity for excellence in teaching,” he said. “To OHIO’s faculty and staff, please continue being awesome!”

A celebratory video about Arnold that was shown at the gala can be viewed here.