OHIO honors Voinovich School Founding Dean Mark Weinberg at State Government Alumni Luncheon
Ohio University and the George V. Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service honored Founding Dean Mark Weinberg for his outstanding service to OHIO and the state during the annual State Government Alumni Luncheon on May 3 at the Athletic Club of Columbus.
The State Government Alumni Awards have been presented annually since 1985, excluding a two-year hiatus during the pandemic, to individuals who have significant accomplishments in their professions, outstanding public service to the state, and service contributions to the public affairs programs at Ohio University.
As he has since the luncheon's inception, Weinberg emceed and shared opening remarks for the day. He was followed by State Rep. Jay Edwards, BS ’16, who represents Ohio House District 94 and gave the keynote address, during which he recognized Weinberg for his decades-long dedication to public service and community impact.
“Mark believes in the power of public service. And while he will be transitioning from his role as founding dean later this year, his work at Ohio University is very important and will live on for a very long time,” Edwards said.
Edwards also presented Weinberg with a commendation from the Ohio Statehouse, signed by Edwards and Ohio House Speaker Jason Stephens.
“It’s an amazing impact that you’ve had, not just on the university, but the entire Appalachian region,” Edwards said. “We can’t thank you enough for the lives that you have impacted.”
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine made a brief appearance at the luncheon as well.
“Dean Weinberg helped build the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service into what it is today,” DeWine said. “Thousands of students, the Ohio University community and the entire southeast Ohio region are better off because of Dean Weinberg’s dedicated leadership.”
Linda Bailiff, BBA ’87, MPA ’90, director of the Ohio Public Works Commission, received this year’s Outstanding State Government Alumni Award from Ohio University. During her acceptance speech, she too recognized Dean Weinberg’s legacy and impact.
“The fact that Mark just presented me with this award has considerable meaning, because I would not be here if it wasn’t for Mark Weinberg,” she noted. “Mark has served as my professor, my advisor, my mentor and my friend. From the beginning, he encouraged me, he gave me opportunities, he challenged me, he never hesitated to provide me with constructive criticism. … Mark not only showed me the door; he pushed me through that door. I am serious when I say I would not be here today if not for Mark Weinberg. I owe him so much.”
In 2014, Weinberg was named Founding Dean of the George V. Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service, which he originally launched in 1981 as the Institute for Local Government Administration and Rural Development (ILGARD). Last December, Weinberg announced his intent to step down from his role, effective June 30, 2023.
As dean of the Voinovich School, Weinberg has provided strategic oversight of economic development at Ohio University, including a range of business technical assistance programs and equity funding for high-growth businesses in the Appalachian Region of Ohio. Under his leadership, the school has emerged as a national frontrunner in leadership and public affairs education; it was ranked 57th in U.S. News & World Report’s list of top public affairs graduate schools for 2023-24.
The Voinovich School’s public-private partnership model has supported its scope and range of community-based impacts, helping establish it as one of the best public service schools in the country. It is a founding member of the Ohio University Health Collaborative, an innovative, multidisciplinary partnership with OHIO’s College of Health Sciences and Professions and Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine that engages nonprofits and government entities across the state to address community health challenges in the region. Notably the School contracted with 185 agencies in 2022, including the highly successful Ohio Department of Higher Education’s Appalachian New Economy Partnership.
“One of the things about working with Mark is, he brings people together [who] can make his ideas work,” said Marsha Lewis, a former graduate student and now a senior executive in residence at the Voinovich School. “Working with Mark is a gift because you get to see so many things that you [thought] were beyond possible come together.”
In addition to serving as dean of the school, Weinberg also taught leadership and public affairs at OHIO, with a specialization in organizational strategy and public sector value creation. Over the course of his 40-plus year career, he created the Ohio University Executive Leadership Institute in 1998, serving as a faculty member there until 2010; was named a Whisman Scholar for the Appalachian Regional Commission; served two terms as president of the Consortium of University Public Service Organizations; founded and served on the board of the National Business Incubation Association; and served on the board of the Ohio Innovation Program for the Ohio Department of Development, among many other service roles. Colleagues are quick to recognize Weinberg’s contributions both at OHIO and beyond.
“Success story after success story of Athens, of the community, of the university, of the state as a whole—you’ll find Mark’s fingerprints all over them,” said Bill Dingus, Dean Emeritus of Ohio University Southern. Dingus worked closely with Weinberg in the school’s early days as ILGARD.
“Mark has left an indelible imprint on OHIO and southeastern Ohio,” said President Hugh Sherman. “We are grateful for his passion and all that he has done within the Voinovich School and the community.”
From rural Appalachia to the Ohio Statehouse and beyond, Weinberg’s transformational dedication to growing and fostering future public servants was celebrated during the May 3 event.
“ILGARD, now the Voinovich School, empowers communities to think bigger,” said John Carey, one of Weinberg’s first students and now the director of the Governor’s Office of Appalachia. “Plus, having the resources of Ohio University—marrying those two together, I think, will be Mark’s legacy.”
Weinberg’s ultimate gift to OHIO, the surrounding region and the state as a whole, is one of future possibilities.
In accepting his commendation at the State Government Alumni Luncheon—where he received not one, but two standing ovations—Weinberg focused not on his own career, but on those around him.
“The people at today’s lunch, we all share a common purpose … and that is, in the words of George V. Voinovich, to improve the lives of our citizens and the wealth and health of our communities,” he said. “I am honored to be part of this group of people. … It has been an honor to hold the legacy of the Voinovich School for George Voinovich.”
Weinberg will continue to serve as a Senior Strategist to the Health Collaborative through June 30, 2024.