2014 Alumni Award recipients
Faye Wattleton, Alumni Medalist Award
New York | BS, Nursing, 1964
Standing in the midst of daunting situations and doing all you can to help—that’s what nurses do, as well as health care managers and community service leaders. It’s also how Faye Wattleton lives her life.
As a young graduate of the College of Nursing, she earned a master’s degree in midwifery and maternal and infant care from Columbia University. Her leadership ability and concern for the health of women and children became evident in her early professional position as assistant director of nursing and CEO at the Visiting Nurses Association for Dayton, Ohio’s Department of Health. She supervised medical services for pregnant adolescent girls and created a neighborhood prenatal care program that became a model for agencies nationwide.
As CEO of Planned Parenthood of Miami Valley, Wattleton led a six-county expansion of reproductive health and education programs, including training for resident physicians, public school staff and international family planning service providers. Under her leadership, the Dayton affiliate became one of Planned Parenthood’s 35 largest. That position led to a distinguished 14-year record as president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She was the youngest and longest-tenured professional to hold the position, as well as the first woman and African American. By the time she left, Planned Parenthood had become the nation’s seventh largest nonprofit organization, providing medical and educational services to more than 4 million Americans annually, as well as technical assistance and commodities to organizations in more than 60 developing countries.
Wattleton later co-founded and served as president of the Center for the Advancement of Women, an independent, nonpartisan think tank conducting research for public education and policy advocacy. Under her leadership, the organization received national and international acclaim for its groundbreaking research and advocacy on women’s opinions, experiences, roles and status in society.
Currently, she serves as a managing director of Alvarez & Marsal, a global professional services firm, and heads its board governance advisory practice. She also serves as a trustee of Columbia University, and a director of Jazz at Lincoln Center and the Pardee Rand Graduate School. She is much sought after as a board member for major public corporations, as well as not-for-profit organizations. These have included the United Nations Association, the U.S. Committee of UNICEF, Independent Sector and The Ohio State University Alumni Association. Her council memberships have included the Nature Conservancy, Peace Corps Advisory Council and the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.
Throughout her career, Wattleton has brought national and international distinction to her profession and to Ohio State. Along the way, she has acquired 14 honorary degrees and two pages worth of honors and awards for her service to women around the globe. She is a 1986 inductee into the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame and 1993 inductee into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
Nelson Mandela, whom Wattleton met during her service on the board of the Kaiser Family Foundation, said that it is the difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead. Through more than four decades of service, she has made an important difference in women’s lives and affected the course of their future through the advancement of reproductive health and rights, AIDS prevention and elevated status in their societies. As the personification of the values of her alma mater, Faye Wattleton is a distinguished choice for this year’s Alumni Medalist Award.
Steven W. Jemison, Dan L. Heinlen Award
Cincinnati, Ohio | Juris Doctor, 1975
Through his leadership and loyalty, former Procter & Gamble Chief Legal Officer and Secretary Steven W. Jemison has helped raise awareness and funds for his alma mater.
Through his leadership and loyalty, former Procter & Gamble chief legal officer and secretary Steven W. Jemison has helped raise awareness and funds for his alma mater.
Jemison, a Chicago native who resides in Cincinnati, is this year’s recipient of the Dan L. Heinlen Award for university advocacy. He graduated from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law in 1975 and has never stopped giving.
Jemison joined Procter & Gamble in 1981, serving more than 29 years in various roles. He led numerous successful fundraising efforts during that time with classmate and P&G colleague Terry Overbey, mobilizing classmates and colleagues who were also OSU law graduates. He helped establish the John R. Rosebrough Memorial Scholarship in 1979, and more than two decades later initiated a campaign to raise more than $13,000 to enlarge the scholarship with the help of 38 classmates. The Procter & Gamble Faculty Excellence Award was established in 1997 due to Jemison’s leadership and was funded by more than $200,000 from his alumni colleagues. This helped lay the groundwork for The Robert J. Watkins/Procter & Gamble Designated Professorship. Personal contributions and corporate matches totaled more than $286,000. By the end of its five-year distinction, the OSU law alumni in Procter & Gamble’s legal department fully endowed the professorship at a $750,000 funding level to benefit the College of Law in perpetuity. Following his retirement, his colleagues began raising funds for a student scholarship in the name of Procter & Gamble and Steven Jemison.
Jemison also has served on the college’s Leadership Annual Giving committee to solicit classmates for annual support, and his leadership and planning skills have encouraged increased participation from the college’s Cincinnati-area alumni.
Jemison did not allow retirement to slow him down. He remained active by taking on the title of Law and Leadership Institute (LLI) board president. He used this position to inspire and prepare students from underserved communities to enter the world of law.
LLI began at Cleveland State University’s Marshall College of Law and The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law as a statewide initiative in collaboration with the legal community. It offers a comprehensive four-year academic program in law, leadership, analytical thinking, problem solving, writing skills and professionalism. LLI’s pilot program began in 2008, and nonprofit status was obtained in 2010. Approximately 400 Ohio high school students benefit from LLI’s programming.
Jemison’s leadership also extends to other community service projects. He successfully ran the Procter & Gamble United Way campaign in 2009, served as a FreeStore FoodBank board member and a Dress for Success Advisory Council member in 2006, has been a board member of the Visiting Nurse Association 1989–2011 and was chair of its board of directors 1996–2001. He currently serves as a member of the Cincinnati Parks foundation board. Until his retirement, he was also a member of the Ohio and Cincinnati Bar Associations and The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law National Council. Previous business affiliations include the Federal Communications Commission and National Labor Relations Board.
Linda C. Stone, Josephine Sitterle Failer Award
Columbus | Doctor of Medicine, 1979
Dr. Linda C. Stone truly embodies “servant leadership” as a means of helping others thrive. She has dedicated her life to serving and educating students, particularly through her involvement with The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s College of Medicine and its Alumni Society.
As a family physician, Stone served patients in Columbus for more than 25 years before retiring from practice and spending full-time as a medical educator. She is the retired dean for student affairs at Ohio State’s College of Medicine and now volunteers as special assistant to the dean for humanism and professionalism.
Ohio State’s medical students have benefitted tremendously from her wisdom and experience. Stone collaborated with students to create the College of Medicine Orchestra, the Humanism in Medicine Writer’s Group, Dance in Medicine and a visual arts and theatre/film arts medical student group. She also created the Medicine in the Arts program designed to create a more humanistic environment in which to teach and learn.
During her tenure at Ohio State, she received numerous honors and recognition, including her selection as 2004 Professor of the Year and the 2009 Ohio State College of Medicine’s Lifetime Achievement Award for demonstrating a commitment to furthering the education of medical students. She also received a Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey Humanism in Medicine Award, sponsored by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, which honors “a graduating student and faculty member who embody compassion and sensitivity in the delivery of care to patients and their family members.”
In 2010, Michigan State University in Lansing honored Stone with the MSU Distinguished Alumni Award. The Ohio State College of Medicine Chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society along with Ohio State’s College of Medicine created the Linda C. Stone Award in Mentoring in 2011 and presented the inaugural award to Stone.
That same year, the Ohio Academy of Family Physicians Foundation honored Stone with its Distinguished Service Award. Nationally, she is an active member of American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation and is an active supporter of the organization, having served as a board trustee (2007–10) and as chair of its Family Medicine Philanthropic Consortium. From 2000 to 2001, she served as president of the Ohio Academy of Family Physicians, and later as chair of the board of trustees of the Ohio Academy of Family Physicians Foundation.
During her tenure as president of the OSU Medical Alumni Society board of governors, she has been instrumental in creating a culture of philanthropy on the board, with student scholarships the primary focus. She has led by example, faithfully contributing to the College of Medicine Annual Fund and, along with her husband, establishing her own family endowment in Medicine in the Arts.
“She has touched the lives of both university students as well as the patients she has served in the community for several years,” wrote nominator Amenze Osa, who is a member of Ohio State’s College of Medicine Class of 2014. “Her commitment to student development is more than evident in the many organizations she leads even after retiring as a practicing physician. She continues to serve Ohio State students and the OSU community with an infectious enthusiasm and compassion that is more than worthy of recognition.”
Ron O'Brien, Professional Achievement Award
Islamorada, Florida | BS, Education, 1959; MA Physical Education, 1961; PhD, Physical Education, 1967
Ronald O’Brien, the diving coach at Ohio State from 1963 to 1978, is universally regarded as the best coach in the history of the sport. O’Brien, who earned Varsity “O” letters in diving and gymnastics 1957–59, was named the International Swimming Hall of Fame “Diving Coach of the 20th Century” in 2001. Among his disciples was the great Greg Louganis, a four-time Olympic gold medal winner.
“Clearly, Ron O’Brien is a difference maker in the Olympic sport of diving. Besides his Hall of Fame coaching career, he has devoted his life to making the sport better in countless ways,” said Thomas E. Gompf, president of United States Aquatic Sports, Inc. “Many coaches and divers owe deep gratitude and appreciation to this outstanding Ohio State alumnus.”
O’Brien’s record as a coach is unparalleled. After leaving Ohio State in 1978, he was an elite-level club coach in California and Florida before serving as director of diving, head coach and diving special events coordinator at the Swimming Hall of Fame complex in Fort Lauderdale 1990¬–¬1996. From 1991 to 2008, he served as national technical director and high performance director for USA Diving, based in Indianapolis.
O’Brien was an eight-time coach of the U.S. Olympic Diving Team, coach of the U.S. team at the World Championships (seven times), coach of the U.S. team at the Pan-American Championships (four times) and coach of the U.S. diving team at the World Cup (seven times).,/p>
O’Brien’s divers won nearly 200 gold medals in the Olympics, World Championships, World Cup Championships, Pan American Games, U.S. National Championships and other national- and world-level competitions. In 25 of his 30 years as head coach, O’Brien produced at least one national champion.
Louganis first met O’Brien at the coach’s dive camp in the summer of 1975, a year before he won a silver medal in the 10-meter platform as a 16-year-old at the Summer Olympics in Montreal in 1976. O’Brien then guided Louganis to gold medal performances in both the 3-meter springboard and the 10-meter platform at the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles in 1984 and in Seoul in 1988.
“We spent a decade together as an unbeatable team to dominate men’s diving,” Louganis said. “This wasn’t without ups or downs. In my eyes as a child, he was a God-like figure, then became a father figure and towards the end of my career, my very best friend.
“I could not have been the diver I was nor gotten through as successfully as I did without Ron. I have always said, ‘you don’t achieve greatness on your own’ and for me, Ron was my strength, my confidant, my belief in myself to be the person I am today.”
O’Brien had an equal impact on his divers who were not world-class athletes, said Steve Skilken, who dove for O’Brien at Ohio State 1969–72 and who later endowed the Ron O’Brien Diving Well at the McCorkle Aquatic Pavilion, as well as three athletics scholarships.
“True, he developed great athletes, but more importantly he developed great people,” Skilken said. “I don’t know any of his divers that aren’t better people because of his great caring and tremendous role modeling. What is overlooked are all of the athletes he so diligently worked with who weren’t Olympic caliber. He spent as much time and effort helping athletes with very little ability as he did the ‘stars.’”
O’Brien was a standout as a competitor as well. He was an NCAA All-American in both the 1-meter and 3-meter springboards 1957¬–59, NCAA 1-meter champion in 1959 and in 1961 was the AAU national champion on the 3-meter springboard.
O’Brien is a member of The Ohio State University Athletic Hall of Fame, the International Swimming Hall of Fame and the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame. He was honored with the Mike Peppe Diving Coach of the Year Award 14 times between 1979 and 1996. He also was named United States Olympic Committee Diving Coach of the Year in 1996.
“Few people involved with any sport have had the effect on their sport that Ron O’Brien has had upon the sport of diving,” said Dr. Bob Bartels, Ohio State swimming coach 1963–67.
Dale A. Seiberling, Professional Achievement Award
Granville, Ohio | BS, Dairy Technology, 1950; MS, Dairy Technology, 1951
We don’t often meet a person who has revolutionized an entire industry. That’s exactly what Dale Seiberling did for food processing. Back in 1950, cleaning and sanitizing dairy equipment was an inefficient, labor-intensive process. Equipment had to be taken apart, washed and reassembled by hand: bucket and brush, hose and boots. Cleaning was done at night, by the most recent hires, with little training or supervision.
As a senior in dairy technology, Seiberling recognized the potential of a new technology called “in-place cleaning,” which pumped flush, wash and rinse solutions through partially assembled piping. He wrote a report about it and a year later was inspired by a presentation on automation by John Diebold of Ford. As a graduate student, he converted his initial report into a visionary paper published in the Journal of Dairy Science. It described how in-place cleaning could be combined with automated process control and ultimately permit computer control of both. The cleaning process was named CIP (Clean-In-Place) and, at first, it was applied only to piping. Seiberling recognized that the process and all equipment should be “CIP-able.” By 1953, standards were developed that included pipes, joints and gaskets. Spray cleaning of transport and plant tanks followed.
That was the beginning of an impressive career and a new chapter in the history of food processing. Today, many products in our pantries, refrigerators and medicine cabinets have been processed in CIP-able systems that reduce labor and waste, improve control and increase production capacity and safety.
Referred to by many as the “father of CIP,” Seiberling began his career as an instructor at Ohio State. In 1955, as a consultant to Hopewell Dairy, he developed the world’s first automated CIP system. Dr. W.J. Harper encouraged his work and contributed bacteriological and chemical expertise. Seiberling spent the next five years developing various components that would automate both processing and cleaning.
He then became an engineering consultant to develop and commercialize automated CIP, and subsequently, fully automated process and cleaning systems. That led to positions as general manager and then vice president of a company for which he guided the design, installation and startup of more than 100 automated dairy processing systems and about 700 CIP systems here and abroad. In the early 1970s he installed several of the first computer-based control systems in the dairy industry.
By 1976 Seiberling had guided the transfer of the automated process and CIP technology from dairy to a variety of companies producing infant formulas, candy, baked goods, canned soups, condiments, dessert toppings and salad dressings. He had extended CIP to breweries, wineries, meat-based pet foods and meat smokehouses. Over the years, he has applied CIP technology and process/CIP automation to nearly every food process.
Through his own company, Seiberling Associates, Inc. (SAI), incorporated in 1977, he personally oversaw process and CIP engineering activity. In the late 70s and early 80s the technology was applied to pharmaceutical processes such as IV solutions and blood fractionation, and then to dry granular. In the early 1980s SAI acquired Electrol Specialties Company, which fabricated CIP and control systems, transfer panels and spray devices. When several milk-borne disease epidemics were encountered in 1985, state and federal regulatory agencies turned to Seiberling to help train their staffs.
Seiberling and his partner sold SAI in 1997 to several of their younger employees but continued to operate Electrol Specialties. From 2002 through 2008 he guided the CIP-able process design for four major biopharmaceutical projects, and continued to support adult education programs and private CIP seminars worldwide through 2012. He has published widely in industry journals and books, and holds four patents related to his profession.
A preeminent pioneer in his field, Seiberling also is a man who never forgot the university that shaped his career. He has donated to Ohio State a pilot-scale automated CIP system used for teaching and research. He established the Dale A. Seiberling Endowed Professorship in the Department of Food Science and Technology to attract an internationally recognized food engineer to Ohio State’s faculty—a position currently held by one of his former students. He also established the Jean F. Seiberling Scholarship in honor of his wife. The scholarship provides support for graduate students working in dairy engineering to continue the research and innovation that has typified Dale Seiberling’s distinguished career.
Chukwuemeka N. Onyejekwe, William Oxley Thompson Alumni Award
Jersey City, New Jersey | BA, Political Science, 2002
The man behind a rap song that served as a backdrop to the Ohio State football team’s successful 2013 season is more than just a talented singer-songwriter with a strong case of Buckeye fever.
Chukwuemeka “Emeka” N. Onyejekwe is the son of Nigerian immigrants, a former walk-on for the Ohio State football team and a lawyer who gave up a nearly $200,000-a-year job with a prestigious New York City law firm to pursue his dream of making it big in the music industry.
Onyejekwe is also an entrepreneur who has launched a successful line of t-shirts, a published author, a public speaker and a tireless advocate for his alma mater.
Onyejekwe is the rapper known as Mekka Don, who recently released his debut album The Dream Goes On. The album features a mix of autobiographical and inspirational songs.
Onyejekwe’s life story is truly inspirational. The son of Nigerian immigrants who both taught at Ohio State, he grew up in Columbus and graduated from St. Francis Desales High School, where he played on football and soccer teams that both won state championships. He was a walk-on for the Ohio State football team for two years before graduating in 2002 with a BA in political science.
He then moved to New York, where he earned a law degree from the New York University School of Law and spent roughly a year at Weil, Gotshal & Manges law firm. While in New York, Onyejekwe published Grime And Glory, a novel inspired by his experience as an Ohio State football player. In the book, he dispels many of the stereotypes associated with black student-athletes.
Onyejekwe left Weil, Gotshal & Manges in 2007 to pursue a music career, which has been kick-started by an association with Ohio State and its football team.
Onyejekwe first became well-known to Ohio State football fans when a chance meeting with former president E. Gordon Gee led to his writing and producing Let’s Go (O-H-I-O), a song featured at home games during the 2012 season. Last season, his song Juice was played during all home games. The song is a play on coach Urban Meyer’s “bring the juice” mantra.
“It seems that anything that Mekka Don touches, he puts his heart into and is extremely successful doing,” said Mark Pantoni, director of player personnel for the Ohio State football team. “The time and energy he puts into helping promote and endorse The Ohio State University cannot be matched.
“From social media to his songs to his licensing apparel, there is no better representation of the late Woody Hayes’ saying “pay forward” than Mekka Don who has lived his life through those words.”
Onyejekwe began to earn a national reputation as a rapper in 2012 when he was named an “mtvu Freshman,” a designation that the music network gives to rising stars, and his video for the song Dirty was named “mtvu Best Freshman Video.” His work has been featured on MTV, VH1.com, ESPN and several other media outlets.
Onyejekwe’s relationship with Ohio State has featured a line of licensed t-shirts that feature the “juice” or “bring the juice” themes and performances at several university and Alumni Association sanctioned events, including Buckeye Bash parties at away football games.
Onyejekwe continues to work as a lawyer while pursuing music. He is a founding member of Onyejekwe & Associates, a New Jersey law firm managed by his sister, Sylvia Onyejekwe.
“From football athlete to Honors student, Homecoming Court to cum laude honors, published novelist to motivational speaker, lawyer to entrepreneur, entertainer/rapper to role model for children, and with a persona that exudes passion, Emeka embodies excellence in academics, the arts, athletics and community engagement,” said his sister, Dr. J. Nwando Olayiwola. “I cannot think of someone else who would be more deserving of the (William Oxley Thompson Award) and will continue to impress us all in his early career.”
David E. Vollman, William Oxley Thompson Alumni Award
St. Louis, Missouri | BS, Chemistry, 2001; MBA, 2006; Doctor of Medicine, 2006
Dr. David E.Vollman bleeds scarlet and gray, hence his tenacity and ambition that shines through in every endeavor. Vollman has already achieved significant success in the medical world as he reaches his mid-30s, and more prospects are on the horizon. He currently serves as an assistant professor, patient safety officer and assistant residency program director at Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine’s Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences, as well as a staff ophthalmologist at the St. Louis VA Medical Center.
He has received many awards during his college and professional careers, and is adding another to his proud list. Vollman is one of this year’s recipients of the William Oxley Thompson Alumni Award for early career achievement, which is presented to alumni younger than age 35 who have demonstrated distinctive achievement in a career and/or civic involvement.
Vollman graduated summa cum laude from Ohio State in 2001 with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. He continued his education at OSU and went on to graduate cum laude with a medical degree, and a Master of Business Administration, both in 2006. While at OSU, Vollman earned several scholarships and academic awards, including the Pfizer Corporation Undergraduate Research Scholarship, and was named a Weidler Scholar in the top five percent of his graduating MBA class. Some of his postgraduate accolades include Transitional Resident of the Year in 2007 from Riverside Methodist Hospital’s Department of Medical Education, and the Ron Burde “Good Egg” Award from Washington University’s Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences in 2010.
Vollman began his ophthalmology residency at Washington University in 2007 and was named chief resident of ophthalmology after he graduated from the program in 2010.
So far in his career, Vollman has produced 10 peer-reviewed publications, has nine invited publications, and an additional 14 abstracts that have been presented at various nationwide ophthalmologic meetings. Shortly after completing his ophthalmology training, he was selected to be the assistant residency program director and the patient safety officer representing the ophthalmology department. He also has been chosen to visit other ophthalmology departments across the country to evaluate differing methods of providing efficient clinic flow and electronic medical health records.
Dr. James Banks Shepherd III, associate professor of ophthalmology and visual sciences at Washington University and chief of ophthalmology at the St. Louis VA Medical Center, has been so impressed by Vollman’s skills that he plans to name Vollman as his successor as chief of ophthalmology in the near future.
“It was obvious from the beginning that he is blessed with great intellect, a natural surgical talent and, more importantly, a keen eye for the larger picture,” Shepherd said. “He has accomplished so much so quickly within our institution, he could easily become one of the youngest chairmen of ophthalmology.”
Shepherd recruited Vollman to work alongside him at the VA hospital, where he sits on numerous committees and subcommittees. While serving as a primary investigator in a multicenter ophthalmic surgery outcomes study, he was a finalist for the Call to Service Medal from the Partnership for Public Service, the only ophthalmologist ever named as a finalist. In October 2013, he was an invited guest of President Barack Obama at the White House to recognize his dedication to federal service.
John L. Melvin, Ralph Davenport Mershon Award
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania | BS, Biological Science, 1955; Doctor of Medicine, 1960; Master of Medical Sciences, 1966
Throughout his long and successful career, Dr. John Melvin has been driven by the wish to serve others. And he has served them well.
Melvin is the Michie Professor and chair of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Jefferson College of Medicine, Thomas Jefferson University, a position he has held since 1998. He was vice president of medical affairs at MossRehab and chair of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the Albert Einstein Medical Center of Philadelphia 1991–2002.
As an academic physician, he has actively contributed to the development of programs for individuals with physical disabilities for many years through regional, national and international organizational leadership, advocacy, teaching, research and clinical services.
His early research at The Ohio State University with Dr. Ernest W. Johnson led to the development of diagnostic techniques (sensory nerve conduction studies) that continue to be basic in the assessment of arm and leg nerve function. In the 1980s, he and colleagues demonstrated that function is a better predictor of rehabilitation outcomes and costs than medical diagnoses. This research provided the basis for the development of the prospective payment system for rehabilitation hospital services implemented by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in 2002.
He has presented more than 465 invited lectures throughout the world and published more than 225 papers, chapters, monographs, books, editorials and abstracts. Since 1971, Melvin has served as a member of more than 50 national and international expert advisory committees, including three of the Institute of Medicine and one of the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences. He also has held many leadership positions in professional organizations dedicated to the improvement, development and expansion of rehabilitation services.
During the 1970s, Melvin provided leadership in the development of the guidelines that define when Medicare patients are eligible to receive needed rehabilitation hospital services. These guidelines continue to be influential after more than 30 years and have significantly contributed to the increased availability of rehabilitation services.
Since 2000, Melvin has been active in developing rehabilitation medicine in China by providing clinical and research experiences for Chinese physicians and therapists at the affiliated clinical facilities of Jefferson Medical College. He also has made numerous visits to China to lecture at medical schools and professional societies, and to review rehabilitation facilities, including those associated with the Sichuan earthquake of 2008.
Melvin also has served as a board member, officer and president of Ohio State’s College of Medicine Alumni Society’s board of governors. In 2012, he accepted the position of the chair of the College of Medicine Steering Committee for the But for Ohio State Campaign, and in this role he has hosted alumni receptions, championed his class scholarship fund and advocated for the College of Medicine.
“All of us who have worked with John enjoy his warm and caring approach to the work of the OSU College of Medicine Alumni Society. His leadership style is in the servant-leader model and his is the personification of all that we hope for in a successful alum,” wrote nominator Dr. Linda C. Stone, past president of the College of Medicine Alumni Society. “Even in the most challenging times, his steady guidance to the board and his enthusiastic approach to every project helped us to move forward in completing our mission.”
Jeffrey A. Myers, Ralph Davenport Mershon Award
Groveport, Ohio | BS, Physiological Optics, 1982; Doctor of Optometry
Few universities are fortunate enough to have an alumnus who exemplifies the often-stated goal of giving “time, treasure and talent” back to his alma mater. Dr. Jeffrey Myers has been that alumnus, making significant contributions to Ohio State for 30 years.
Myers received a Bachelor of Physiologic Optics in 1982 and a Doctorate in Optometry from the College of Optometry in 1984. He immediately entered private practice and, at the same time, served as a part-time clinical instructor for the college, where his ties have remained strong. He currently is a clinical associate professor.
Myers’ practice in Canal Winchester—Winchester Vision Care, Inc.—has grown into a multiple-doctor corporation, for which he serves as owner and president. He also volunteers as a primary care externship preceptor for the College of Optometry, inviting a fourth-year optometry student into his practice for valuable direct patient care experience. He provided similar service to the Chillicothe Veterans Affairs Medical Center for 22 years.
Myers has been an active member of the board of directors of the College of Optometry’s Optometry Alumni and Friends. For two terms, he served on the Dean’s Panel on Patient Care and Practice Management, advising the dean on curriculum that will instruct students on both best-practice patient care and business operations. He was instrumental in developing the Distinguished Alumni Award for the college, as well as an Early Professional Achievement Award for graduates out of school less than 15 years. As the chair of the Awards Committee, he serves as a popular master of ceremonies and organizer for awards presentations at a dinner gala. In addition, he is a charter member of the Dean’s Advisory Council and the Centennial Celebration Committee marking the 100th year for the College of Optometry in 2014. For two years, he served on the Electronic Health Records Task Force.
A tireless promoter of the College of Optometry and the university, Myers is not shy about asking donors to support their alma mater. He represents the college at meetings of the university’s But for Ohio State Campaign, for which the College of Optometry is on track to meet all of its goals. He currently also chairs the college’s Capital Campaign Committee.
In his service to the College of Optometry, Myers has gone beyond active participation in campaigns and on boards, committees and councils. Since 1999 he has been editor-in-chief of BuckEYE, the college’s award-winning alumni magazine. He has authored 37 editorials and 54 feature articles in a “down-home” style that has inspired countless alumni to reconnect and stay connected to Ohio State and to the college.
With his wife, Joyce, he has sponsored an annual lecture series at the College of Optometry since 2009. The series brings to campus outstanding vision scientists, clinicians and other researchers from around the world for presentations and seminars for students, faculty and alumni.
For Myers, both his profession and his personal passions have been dedicated to vision. He has been described as a “consummate team player, an “exceptional citizen” and a “dedicated and committed Buckeye.” The Ralph Davenport Mershon Award’s namesake was mostly responsible for founding the Alumni Association for Ohio State. No one has served Buckeye students, alumni and alumni organizations more enthusiastically and consistently than Dr. Jeffrey Myers.
Stephen P. Blythe, Robert M. Duncan Alumni Citizenship Award
Laguna Hills, California | BS, Accounting, 1980
When Stephen P. Blythe sees a need, he is the first to step in and selflessly give his time and talents. Whether soliciting donations for the American Cancer Society or flying a plane full of medical supplies or personnel to Mexico, he personifies the giving spirit of The Ohio State University. He has received many professional, business and volunteer awards, and a new accolade from his alma mater encompasses them all. Blythe is a recipient of this year’s Robert M. Duncan Alumni Citizenship Award. It is presented to alumni who have distinguished themselves in service to humanity and who have best exemplified the university’s motto, “Education for Citizenship,” by having performed significant voluntary service to their community beyond the call of business or professional duty.
Blythe was born and raised in England, but moved to the United States in 1968. After earning a Bachelor of Science in Accounting in 1980 from Ohio State and obtaining his CPA certification, he set the tone with his service and strong work ethic. He joined Price Waterhouse and the former Ernst & Whinney (now Ernst & Young), pioneering the implementation of business systems for the small and midsize business. As he saw a growing need for automated accounting procedures and financial reporting, his interest in owning his own business also grew.
In 1980 Blythe founded Blytheco, a full-service consulting firm that offers a variety of business management software, technical support, marketing services and more. Blytheco employs more than 110 people across 16 states and works with more than 5,000 clients in various industries. Blytheco has been Sage software’s partner of the year for many years, generating more than $24 million in 2013.
Blythe and his company have won numerous awards, including Ernst & Young 2004 Entrepreneur of the Year, Sage’s Partner of the Year, Fastest Growing Company in America by Inc. Magazine and Orange County Business Journal’s CFO of the Year Community Service Award.
Blythe has dedicated his life to community service. He often lends his experience as a pilot by serving LIGA International, the Flying Doctors of Mercy and Flying Samaritans, both non-profit organizations that help provide free health care and education in Mexico. He also established LIGA’s and Sam’s online volunteer system and is a longtime board member.
Former LIGA president Janet Lapp praised Blythe for his dedication and innovation and for breathing new life into a previously change-resistant organization.
“His contribution to this organization has become legendary,” she said. “He singlehandedly changed the face and the direction of this organization by the creation of a now award-winning website that has set the standard for other charitable and aviation organizations throughout the world. His efforts have revolutionized LIGA’s operations.”
Blythe’s leadership also has led to a successful affiliation with the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life fundraiser. Blytheco has been a constant supporter since losing a colleague to cancer in 1999. Through the company’s commitment and its unique fundraising activities, Blytheco has raised more than $125,000 in the effort to find a cure.
Ann Thomas-McDonald, Robert M. Duncan Alumni Citizenship Award
Granville, Ohio | BA, Psychology, 1988
The world needs more people like Ann Thomas-MacDonald.
“Ann is a behind-the-scenes, unsung hero of our time. Ann proves every day of her life that one person can make a huge difference in this world,” wrote nominator and friend Kristen Catton of Westerville.
Thomas-MacDonald’s life changed in May 2005, when her then 5-year-old son, Parker, was diagnosed with lymphoblastic lymphoma, a form of blood cancer. She decided at that time to channel all her energy into helping her son fight this illness and doing everything in her power to help find a cure for lymphoma and all cancer. She became actively involved with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) Light the Night program to raise funds to help find cures and support blood cancer patients. She also started participating in the society’s “Team in Training” endurance events in which she has participated in 14 running, cycling and other athletic events to raise money for LLS.
“All totaled, Ann has raised over $100,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to help us accelerate miraculous new treatments and healing therapies once thought impossible,” wrote nominator Tim Hamburger, executive director of the LLS’ Central Ohio Chapter. “The funds Ann has raised also significantly impact the patient services we are able to provide.”
She also has participated in multiple Pelotonia charity cycling events to raise money for cancer research at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute. In 2012, she was asked to be a member of The James Ambassador Society through Ohio State. She also served for two years as a board member for the Christopher Carlson Foundation in Licking County, Ohio, which helps families who are facing a pediatric cancer diagnosis. The foundation assists families with meals, travel expenses, lodging and other day-to-day expenses associated with the disease. Thomas-MacDonald is also directly involved with the Walk for Wishes event in Columbus that raises money to support the Make a Wish program in Ohio, which grants wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions. In addition, she also is the PTO coordinator for the Granville annual Kinder Key Caroling group that serves as an auxiliary of Nationwide Children’s Hospital and is dedicated to raising money to support The Heart Center.
Thomas-MacDonald also has organized fundraisers for two Granville residents—a neighbor diagnosed with multiple sclerosis who needed a wheelchair-accessible van and a teenager injured in a sledding accident who needed help making her family’s home wheelchair accessible. In both cases, Thomas-MacDonald banded together with neighbors and friends to help raise the money necessary to improve their quality of life.
Thomas-MacDonald works part-time at NYAP—the National Youth Advocate Program, where she provides training and counsel to foster families and children who have been abused or neglected. She has been working in the Child Welfare area since 1991.
“Ann has a heart of gold. If Ann sees someone in need, she steps up. Period. Too often today’s good deeds are done for applause and not cause,” wrote Catton. “Ann is the opposite. She does wonderful things in her community because she wants to leave this world a better place than she found it.”