2020 Alumni Awards
Elizabeth Banbury Germain ’82 — Ralph D. Mershon Award
What is the Ralph Davenport Mershon Award?
Presented to alumni who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and service to The Ohio State University.
Leading can be serious fun
Abundant hope and promise are the rewards of serving others, especially when side by side with students
By Shanna Finley
Elizabeth “Libby” Banbury Germain ’82 joyfully embraces Ohio State causes.
Germain lights up when sharing stories of her interactions with “Bruti,” otherwise known as Brutus Buckeye students. She cherishes the opportunity to mentor BuckeyeThon student leaders as they fundraise to combat pediatric cancer and lift the hopes of patients and their families. She brings wisdom and warmth to her service on two university boards. And she shows students they aren’t the only ones who know how to have a good time, as evidenced by her cameo in a carpool karaoke video with Buckeye legends Eddie George and Aaron Craft during Welcome Week in 2017.
What drives you to serve Ohio State?
I want to support the university in any way I can, whether it is by investing my time, helping to fundraise or giving of our resources. I am driven by programs that are meaningful to our family and the community — causes I believe in. This is focused on the work happening at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute, BuckeyeThon and the kids at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and the Brutus Buckeye team, the spirit of Ohio State.
Working with young adults who are bright, creative and possess a heart for giving motivates me and fills me with great hope at a time when there is much sadness and justified anger. It is our duty to help them make the world a better place.
What do you want to accomplish through your Ohio State board appointments?
I have the pleasure of serving with professionals from across the country who are constantly working for good. My fellow Foundation Board directors love Ohio State and the students the way I do. I am in awe of what we can accomplish when we collectively share ideas and continue learning — the university is still teaching me! Cancer has affected my family and friends too many times. I want to be part of an institution that makes a difference in the fight. I truly believe that we can cure cancer and must, and the other members of The James Foundation Board feel this way, too.
What drew you to BuckeyeThon and how has your role evolved?
My daughter Molly participated in BuckeyeThon as an undergraduate, and my other daughter, Maggie, is a pediatric oncologist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, so I was curious. Tracy Stuck [longtime friend and assistant vice president for student life at Ohio State] invited me to come to the dance marathon. Seeing the students, and the kids and their families, enjoying a weekend charged with big energy — I was hooked!
Two years ago, we heard about Dr. Colleen Spees and her work with nutritional genomics and cancer. We proposed a Dinner of Champions, with Dr. Spees conducting a cooking class and dinner during BuckeyeThon for patients and their families, giving them delicious food and healthy take-home recipes. The next time we made it bigger, inviting community leaders to encourage their involvement, as well as doctors and staff beloved by the families.
You lead the way in recruiting fellow volunteers. How do you inspire others?
I ask: What makes your heart pump and what gives you goosebumps? You must be passionate about something! If I am enthusiastic about a cause or a program, I am excited and I talk about it. I want everyone to experience the joy of paying forward to help others.