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Ohio University professor j.w. Smith awarded the Fifth annual Athena Award

Published: November 14, 2019 Author: Staff reports

Ohio University associate professor in the Scripps College of Communication Dr. j.w. Smith was awarded the fifth annual Athena Award during a recognition ceremony at ARTS/West on Nov. 6 by Athens Mayor Steve Patterson and the chair of the Athens City Commission on Disabilities David McNelly.

Smith, a professor in the School of Communications Studies at OHIO and disabilities advocate, is a renowned researcher on issues related to disability, with his work impacting policy throughout the state of Ohio. He transcends boundaries and has an uncanny gift to reach people of all abilities, and all walks of life.

He was presented by Dr. Jerry Miller, professor in the School of Communication Studies, who noted the words of one colleague: “Throughout our research and his intimate knowledge of language, personal narratives, and leadership, I began to appreciate his own leadership responsibilities for the differently abled communities in Athens, the state of Ohio, and across the country.”

Upon receiving the award, an emotional Smith expressed his appreciation.

“It was an honor to be part of a wonderful celebration. I am humbled to receive this award and feel so undeserved but elated.” He encouraged everyone to start now looking at the possibilities of people with disabilities.

Speakers at the program included: Ohio University Executive Vice President and Provost Dr. Chaden Djalali; former Mayor Ric Abel (served 1998-2008); McNelly; and commission member and 2019 Athena Award Committee co-chair Dr. Carolyn Bailey Lewis.

The Athena Award, the only award given by the city of Athens, was created by the Commission on Disabilities to recognize the person or organization providing exceptional service to people living with disabilities in the Athens community by positively impacting their lives in one or more of the following areas: advocating for change that improves the quality of life; advocating for issues; making a positive impact through volunteerism; developing new programs or services; offering exceptional customer service; or demonstrating innovation or entrepreneurship that has a positive impact.