Ohio University honors 17 inspirational Bobcats at 2022 Alumni Awards Ceremony

Published: October 11, 2022 Author: Staff reports

Members of the Ohio University community gathered from near and far during the 2022 Homecoming Week to celebrate an exemplary group of Bobcats and the immeasurable impact they have had on the University, their communities, and the world. 

The Ohio University Alumni Association’s 2022 Alumni Awards Ceremony honored 17 recipients during the Oct. 7 event held in Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium. 

“What an honor it was to celebrate these distinguished members of our Bobcat family, all of whom have contributed so much to Ohio University and to their communities and who’ve meaningfully helped guide this institution through their years of service and achievement,” said Jenn Bowie, interim associate vice president for Alumni Relations and executive director of the Ohio University Alumni Association. “The OUAA Alumni Awards are a special reminder of both the excellence and the dedication found within our community. If you know someone who merits this sort of recognition, submit a nomination today.”

OHIO Men’s Basketball Coach Jeff Boals, BS ’95, served as the event’s emcee, kicking off the ceremony by acknowledging how this year’s recipients are a source of pride for Bobcats everywhere. 

“Together, their inspiring professional success, dedicated service to their communities and their alma mater, and steadfast commitment to Ohio University exemplify the true nature of the Bobcat Spirit,” Boals said. “Their accomplishments and unique character are what make our community so special – and make me personally proud to call myself a Bobcat.”

Alumna of the Year Award

The highest honor a graduate can receive, the 2022 Alumna of the Year award was bestowed upon Dr. Patricia A. Ackerman, BA ’66, who has dedicated her life to the field of education.

“It is impossible to summarize the incredible impact of Dr. Ackerman’s commitment to OHIO and our students,” OHIO President Hugh Sherman said when introducing Ackerman. “She has made, and will continue to make, a positive difference in the lives of our students and alumni for generations to come. We are grateful to her for her dedication and commitment to education, and we are proud to honor her this evening.”

Many of Ackerman’s achievements and contributions to OHIO were shared at the event through the following video:

“Until my lease on Bobcat life runs out and my account is rendered ‘paid in full,’ a piece of my heart will always linger in the hallowed halls of Lindley,” Ackerman said in her acceptance speech. “The essence of Ellis is ingrained indelibly upon my intellect and is reflected in every thought I ever put in writing. Within Mem. Aud. resides the irrefutable truth that I, too, was here, and followed a trail toward tomorrow blazed by the first Ebony Bobcats — John Newton Templeton and Martha Jane Hunley Blackburn. That future students who look like me, and them, will continue to pursue pathways to even brighter tomorrows is beyond reassuring.”

Medal of Merit

The Medal of Merit, the oldest of the University’s alumni awards, was presented to four graduates who have excelled in their chosen fields. The 2022 winners are Christopher B. Jones, BA ’65; William T. Newman Jr., BFA ’72; Marlon A. Primes, BSJ ’86; and Jon J. Snyder, BSC ’87.

From Ohio University to the halls of Warner Bros. Records, Jones’ monumental career in the record industry saw him contribute to the success of some of the world’s biggest artists, including Smokey Robinson, The Temptations, Ray Charles, and The Jackson 5, to name only a few. In 1974, Jones became business manager for Stevie Wonder, working closely with the musician through the release of “Songs in the Key of Life.” He would go on to enjoy a nearly 20-year career with Warner Bros. Records.

Having served as circuit court judge for Virginia’s 17th Judicial Circuit since 1993, Newman was elected Chief Judge in 2003. Founder and trustee of the Arlington Community Foundation, founder of the Arlington County Mentoring Program, and a trustee of the Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Judge Newman’s volunteerism extends to past service on The Ohio University Foundation Board of Trustees as well.

Primes has served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio for the past 27 years, handling a wide variety of complex civil litigation in state and federal courts. He served as president of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, the first African American attorney to lead the group, which is one of the largest associations of lawyers and judges in Ohio. He has served on the Ohio University Alumni Association’s board of directors, the Scripps College Board of Alumni and Friends, and as president of OHIO’s Columbus Black Alumni chapter. 

Shortly after graduating from Ohio University, Snyder began what would become a 30-year career in the medical device industry, culminating in his 2008 founding of Neuros Medical, which developed the Altius® system for the treatment of chronic pain applications. He frequently shares his extensive experience in entrepreneurship and business management with OHIO students through the Center for Entrepreneurship and has served on the College of Business Executive Advisory Board, among numerous other community and industry organizations. 

Distinguished Service Award

The Distinguished Service Award recognizes alumni who have supported Ohio University with their time, talents, or treasure. This year’s recipients are Dwight L. Ferguson, BSC ’79; Alex J. Garcia Jr., BBA ’69; Beverly E. Jones, BSJ ’69, MBA ’75; and Byron L. Ward, BBA ’89.

Ferguson is the president and CEO of the California Agricultural Leadership Foundation, a nonprofit corporation committed to leadership training and transformational learning experiences in partnership with four California universities. Ferguson has remained connected with numerous Ohio University Alumni Association networks over the years and has served on the Scripps College Dean’s Advisory Council for nearly 10 years. 

After graduating from the College of Business, Garcia embarked on a 42-year career in manufacturing management, leading to top roles including VP of Operations for Sinter Metals, managing partner of Cerberus Capital Management, president and COO of Colfor Manufacturing, and CEO of Flexible Flyer. He has shared his business management acumen with OHIO students as well as College of Business leadership, serving on the College’s Executive Advisory Board for more than 20 years, as well as on The Ohio University Foundation Board of Trustees.

Jones began blazing trails for equity and justice from her first days at Ohio University. In 1969, she became the first female to enter OHIO’s MBA program. As a graduate student and administrator, she assisted then-President Claude Sowle on women’s issues and submitted a report in 1972 that documented discrimination against OHIO women and served as a blueprint for change, initiating the inclusion of women into the Marching 110. After leaving OHIO, Jones practiced law, eventually joining Consolidated Natural Gas Company as Vice President of Public Affairs and Policy. Today, she is an executive coach. A founding member of the Scripps College Dean’s Advisory Council, Jones has served on The Ohio University Foundation Board of Trustees and as a professional fellow in the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service. 

Ward currently serves as the regional director for corporate engagement at Year Up, a national non-profit organization focused on workforce development solutions with a mission of closing the “opportunity divide” in America. Previously, he held vice-president roles at Microdesk and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. In addition to numerous other volunteer activities at local and national levels, Ward has remained deeply committed to OHIO, serving on The Ohio University Foundation Board of Trustees, the Alumni Association Board of Directors, College of Business Executive Advisory Board, and the Black Alumni Reunion Planning Committee. 

Charles J. and Claire O. Ping Recent Graduate Award 

Presented to alumni who have excelled in their chosen field and in their service to Ohio University and their communities within 15 years of graduating, the Charles J. and Claire O. Ping Recent Graduate Award 2020-21 recipients are Matthew A. Barnes, BSJ ’08, and April L. Welshans, BSCE ’07.

The morning anchor for NBC4 in Columbus, Ohio, Barnes has gone from the halls of Scripps College and WOUB to cover the biggest stories in Central Ohio, as well as major sporting events such as the Masters, NBA finals, Super Bowl, and the Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022 Olympics. Named Best Male TV Personality by Columbus Monthly Magazine, Barnes is also a well-recognized face in Athens, where he has spoken at numerous Scripps College and Alumni Association events, engaged with students, and served as a member of the Scripps College Board of Alumni and Friends.

Since graduating from the Russ College of Engineering and Technology in 2007, Welshans has enjoyed more than 13 years with Stantec Consulting, where she fulfills multiple roles, including geotechnical engineer, project manager, account manager, principal, and Water Business Line Engagement Champion, among others. She resides in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and stays connected to OHIO through her service on the Russ College Board of Visitors, engagement with the Society of Women Engineers, and visits with current civil engineering students about the industry and life after graduation. 

Honorary Alumni Award

A special recognition reserved for those members of the OHIO family who may not have graduated from Ohio University but have supported the institution and their communities with their time, talents, or treasure, this year’s Honorary Alumni Award went to Dr. Carol Pletcher.

Prior to her nearly 50-year career in corporate innovation leadership, Pletcher met her soon-to-be-husband Wayne Pletcher, BS ’66, a proud Ohio University graduate who firmly believed that his OHIO experience transformed his life. As the couple moved through life and careers, Carol embodied Wayne’s dedication for OHIO, helping honor his commitment through the Wayne A. and Carol H. Pletcher Chemistry Scholarship and, most recently, the Pletcher Science Scholarship. As Pletcher says, “Always a Bobcat means honoring all the support that my husband received. OU transformed him.”

The Kermit Blosser Ohio Athletics Hall of Fame

In partnership with Intercollegiate Athletics, the Alumni Awards Ceremony included the induction of the 2022 class of inductees into the Kermit Blosser Ohio Athletics Hall of Fame. This year’s inductees are Brandon L. Hunter, BSH ’03; Kelly N. Lamberti, BSED ’15; Andrew Smiles, BGS ’82; Frank Solich; and the 1964 Cross Country Team.

A four-year letter winner for the men’s basketball team, Hunter earned All-MAC Freshman Team honors and was a three-time All-MAC First Team honoree. To this day, he leads the Ohio men’s basketball program in free throws made, free throws attempted, and total rebounds, and his 12.6 rebounds per game remain unmatched in both the MAC and the NCAA.

Lamberti is the only player in Ohio volleyball history to rank in the top six in career kills, service aces, digs, and points in the rally scoring era. She is one of only two volleyball graduates to be a four-time All-MAC First Team selection, and she made the MAC All-Tournament team twice. She also earned Academic All-MAC honors three times and was named the 2014 Distinguished Scholar Athlete.

Smiles was a member of the Ohio soccer program, and during his career, he earned a multitude of awards, making the All-Ohio and All-Midwest teams three consecutive times. He also earned All-America recognition twice, making First Team All-America in 1971 and All-America Honorable Mention in 1972. He was also awarded the Carl Dale Award, marking him as the top defensive player in Ohio.

Solich became the winningest head football coach in MAC history with 115 overall victories. His 77 conference-only wins rank second, and he owns a career coaching record of 173-101. His 16 years of service are tied for the most in MAC history, and Ohio is 115-82 during the Solich era. His 115 victories are the second-most in program history behind Don Peden. Under Solich, Ohio had a run of 12 straight non-losing seasons that have included 11 winning campaigns and six years with at least nine victories — including a 10-win campaign in 2011. Ohio captured division titles in 2006, 2009, 2011, and 2016, and Solich led the Bobcats to 11 of their 13 bowl appearances and the first five bowl victories in program history.

The 1964 Cross Country Team was crowned with an All-Ohio Championship title and earned one of three MAC titles in program history. The Bobcats qualified for the 1964 NCAA championships, where Elmore “Mo” Banton became the first and only Bobcat to win the tournament. Ohio was represented by six other runners — Lawrence Smith, Robert Crooks, Darnell Mitchell, John E. Blair, Richard Alderfer and Alex C. Jamieson — with Smith and Crooks finishing in the top 25. As a team, Ohio earned the bronze medal.