By Kayla Gaug
The Office of Nationally Competitive Awards (ONCA) recognized five faculty and staff members on Thursday for their distinguished service to students who have applied for nationally competitive awards and more than 100 students at the annual ONCA Celebration and Appreciation Lunch.
The lunch also served as both a 10-year anniversary for ONCA and a farewell celebration for ONCA Director Ann Brown, who is retiring Friday after 25 years at the university.
President Roderick J. McDavis talked about how much ONCA has grown since it was created in 1999, when 18 applications for awards were submitted. Of those applications, three students received awards.
This year, about 110 students applied for awards and as of today, 46 have been named recipients. Last year, the university had a school-record 75 nationally competitive award recipients.
He also gave special thanks to Brown during his remarks.
"What Ann brought to ONCA is a gift for bringing people together for a common purpose -- the good of our students," McDavis said. "I can't think of a better advocate for our students than Ann Brown. Most importantly, she has celebrated the students and never brought attention to herself or wanted any of the credit. We thank you for your dedication, commitment and service to our most precious resource, our students."
Each year, faculty and staff members serve as advisers, recommenders and mentors to the hundreds of Ohio University students who apply for nationally competitive awards.
Geoff Buckley, David Keck, Sonia Marcus, Jeffrey Rack, and Chris Towe were presented with the ONCA's Distinguished Service Award and the School of Media Arts and Studies was named the most outstanding department or school. Each will receive a $500 honorarium for their ongoing commitment, education and development of countless students.
Buckley, associate professor in the Department of Geography, was a recommender for Emily Bacha, the university's lone recipient of the prestigious Morris K. Udall Scholarship, and Molly Shea, who earned honorable mention status for the same award. He also served on several committees for the Office of Nationally Competitive Awards and has served as a mentor and adviser to many students.
Keck, associate professor in the Department of Mathematics, has advised students and written recommendation letters for a number of award applicants.
Marcus, sustainability coordinator in the Office of Sustainability, has mentored students, written letters of recommendation, and served on boards and committees, including the ONCA Advisory Board.
Rack, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, has written recommendation letters and mentored students in their application process over the years. He also has served on the Goldwater selection and mock interview committees.
Towe, a part-time instructor in the Department of Geography, has been instrumental in students' successes with the NOAA Ernest F. Hollings Scholarship.
The School of Media Arts and Studies was recognized for its hard work with the King Family Foundation Scholarship, a Fulbright Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, the Udall and the UNESCO/Keizo Obuchi Fellowship.
Holding back tears, Brown singled out a handful of the hundreds of people who she said have helped her make ONCA successful the past 10 years.
"I have mixed emotions (about retirement) and I'm grateful for the opportunity to do this work." Brown said. "This job was a calling and it has been so satisfying and rewarding, but I think it's time for someone else with new ideas to take over. It was a great ride."
For more information about ONCA or for a list of past Distinguished Service Award and Outstanding Department Award winners, visit www.onca.org.
George Mauzy contributed to this story.