University Awards & Recognition

Distinguished Service Award

Alumni and other friends of The Ohio State University are a passionate lot. They remember their Ohio State ties, serving as ambassadors of the university around the world.

But a handful of alumni, retired faculty and administrators, and friends who have forged connections with the university truly stand out. It is for this outstanding group that university trustees established the Distinguished Service Award in 1952.

We are pleased to announce the following winners.


Bill and Marci Ingram

With great skill, Marci and Bill Ingram continue the half-century tradition of the Ingram family, championing worthy causes throughout Central Ohio. Their extraordinary family philanthropy, volunteer service and leadership are evident on The Ohio State University campus, as well as across a community that has been an essential part of both their business and family life for generations.

Marci and Bill's involvement with people and programs at Ohio State changes lives. Their partnership touches nearly every aspect of the university including: teaching, research, medicine, business, agriculture, the arts, public service and outreach and the student experience.

Bill continues to serve Ohio State as a member of Ohio State's Foundation Board, and of The James' Foundation Board. He helped lead The James through a $500 million Power to Change Lives campaign, and will continue to serve as a champion for the work of both the university's academic and outreach programs and the Medical Center through the upcoming campaign.

The Ingrams have actively supported autism research, fundraising, and community outreach for over 14 years. They work tirelessly, many times behind the scenes, to advocate for behavioral interventions for children on the spectrum. In 2008 and 2009, Marci Ingram served as co-chair for the Walk Now for Autism Speaks – bringing the fundraising event to the Ohio State campus. Combined, the two events raised over $1.2 million and set records for participation and grassroots fundraising.

Most recently, the Ingrams have drawn the Central Ohio community together with a transformational gift supporting autism research and programs at both The Ohio State University and Nationwide Children's Hospital. Their collaborative approach in supporting both NCH and OSU will have a lasting impact for those afflicted by Autism Spectrum Disorders in the Columbus community and beyond.

Bill Ingram is president and CEO of White Castle Systems Inc., widely considered the original quick-service hamburger chain. Bill represents the third generation in leadership of White Castle, which was founded by his grandfather in Wichita, KS.  Marci is actively engaged as a leadership volunteer, involved on boards and with organizations to support the arts, healthcare and the community.

William J. Lhota

William J. Lhota

William J. Lhota is president and CEO of the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) and a loyal supporter of Ohio State, his alma mater, where he earned a bachelor's degree in civil engineering in 1964. Bill also earned a master's in management from MIT and spent 37 years at American Electric Power, retiring as president, Energy Delivery, and executive vice president, AEP Service Corporation, in 2001.

In 1988, Bill received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Ohio State for his active involvement in the university's College of Engineering. Today, he serves on the college's Strategy Council and is a member of the search committee for the new dean. He also has been highly supportive of research activities in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Geodetic Science's transportation area. When the department was awarded a research project by the U.S. Department of Transportation – Federal Transit Administration in 2006, Bill committed data and personnel expertise from COTA to assist faculty involved in the project. The collaboration between COTA and the university proved invaluable for the researchers and was made possible only through Bill's initiative and support.

Bill also has been a tireless advocate for The Ohio State University Alumni Association, serving on the board of directors, 2002–2007, including as vice chair, 2004–2005, and as chair, 2005–2007.  In 2009, he was appointed co-chair of an alignment task force to help create an advancement model to better align the Alumni Association with the university. In 2010, Ohio State's Board of Trustees and the Alumni Association's board of directors unanimously approved an affiliation agreement in support of the alignment.

Bill Lhota has been and continues to be an exemplary supporter of the university, giving generously of his time, energy, and expertise.

Tamala Longaberger

Tamala Longaberger is chair of the board and CEO of The Longaberger Company. She is also an enthusiastic, inspirational, and committed advocate for Ohio State, where she earned her bachelor of science in business administration. Tami's service to her alma mater includes her membership on the Alumni Association's board of directors, 1994–1996, including as vice chair in 1996, and on the university's Board of Trustees, 1996–2005, including as chair, 2004–2005.

In 2009, Tami was appointed co-chair of an alignment task force to help create an advancement model to better align the Alumni Association with the university. In 2010, Ohio State's Board of Trustees and the Alumni Association's board of directors unanimously approved an affiliation agreement in support of the alignment.

Tami is also a respected leader and active participant in state, national, and international affairs. She serves as chair of the Arab Women's Leadership Institute to provide women skills they need to succeed as community leaders, and she is a member of the Ohio Business Roundtable, a partnership of chief executives of the state's major businesses who are committed to working with public leaders to build a better Ohio.

Tami's philanthropic initiatives include The Longaberger Company's support of a national breast cancer fund-raising and awareness program in partnership with the American Cancer Society, which, since 1995, has reached 20 million women and raised $14 million for research and education. The Longaberger Foundation's many gifts to Ohio State include the Dave Longaberger Endowed Chair in Urology, and proceeds from the Longaberger collegiate basket series directly benefit students, parents, and families of Ohio State.

Tami Longaberger's dedication, inspiration, and service are unlimited, and her generous contributions are felt both close to home and around the world.

Randall B. Ripley

Since his initial appointment in 1967 as an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at Ohio State, Randall B. "Rip" Ripley has exemplified unwavering and prolific service to the university. After only two years as an associate professor, Rip was appointed chair of the department, a position he held for 22 years, leaving only to become dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences in 1992.

Throughout his lengthy tenure as a professor, chair, and dean, Rip was widely known as an adept and accomplished administrator who knew how to get things done with both efficiency and skill. When he took over as chair of political science in 1969, his strategic decision making, key hires, and junior faculty mentoring helped guide political science to the position of national and international eminence it holds today.

As dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Rip continued his steadfast focus on professional quality in all decision making, as demonstrated in his selection of department chairs who were proven leaders themselves. Rip mentored and supported the chairs, gave them a great deal of responsibility, and expected a great deal from them in return. As a result, the college experienced improved department ratings, improved department governance, and improved fiscal practices.

Rip's service to Ohio State also extends to the university as a whole. Notably, in the mid 1990s, he chaired the committee charged with reviewing the Graduate School. The committee's ultimate report laid the foundation for subsequent committee recommendations, helping to steer the school in important new and enhanced directions. He also chaired search committees for the deans of the College of Arts and the College of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, and for the director of the Mershon Center.

Randall Ripley's service to Ohio State is distinguished by its wide variety, far-reaching qualities, and importance to the university, and the legacy of his efforts endures.

Barbara R. Snyder

Since 2007, Barbara R. Snyder has been the president of Case Western Reserve University. She earned a bachelor of arts in sociology from Ohio State in 1976 and returned to her alma mater in 1988 as an associate professor in the Moritz College of Law.

Barbara's success as a teacher and mentor—as exemplified by her receiving Moritz Law's Outstanding Professor Award in 1997—is matched by her strong leadership skills as an administrator. Her service to the College of Law includes roles as director of the (then) Center for Socio-Legal Studies and as associate dean for Academic Affairs. Her commitment to the college transposed into broader university-level service, including with the University Senate and the Office of Academic Affairs.

Before her appointment as Ohio State's executive vice president and provost in 2004, Barbara held positions as vice provost for Academic Policy and Human Resources and as interim vice president for University Relations. In every role, Barbara's people skills, fortitude, and commitment to the job at hand played a large part in bringing all parties together to accomplish what was best for the university.

As evidence of her dedication to moving Ohio State forward in an integrated manner, Barbara led the first major cross-unit initiative—Targeted Investments in Excellence (TIE). For these 10 projects, research areas cutting across several colleges were identified and funded with $50 million of support. TIE brought real meaning to cross-disciplinary work, and today virtually all initiatives at the university take this same approach.

During Barbara's tenure, she also oversaw the merger of the John Glenn Institute with the School of Public Policy and Management to become the John Glenn School of Public Affairs and the merger of the College of Education with the College of Human Ecology. She also initiated a thorough review of the general education curriculum to bring it more in line with a dramatically improved undergraduate student body and with peer institutions.

Barbara Snyder's service to Ohio State made a lasting impact that is as valuable to the university today as when she was directly involved.

Elizabeth J. Watters

William D. Wells

Elizabeth Watters has selflessly given both her time and personal resources to advance the university. Elizabeth has proven herself an exemplary member of the Ohio State family through her service as a member of the President's Club Advisory Board, a volunteer and philanthropic leader for the Ohio Union, and through her impressive support and meaningful engagement with the Moritz College of Law, its students, and alumni.

A two-time graduate of Ohio State earning a BA in Sociology in 1987 and a JD in 1990, Elizabeth was a student leader on campus. She was a member of Ohio Staters, Inc. and Sphinx Honorary, and received an Outstanding Senior Award as an undergraduate. At Moritz, she was managing editor of the Ohio State Law Journal and received the Dean's Special Award for her overall school contributions.

She continues her involvement as an alumna. Elizabeth was a leading force on the steering committee for the Sphinx 100th Anniversary in 2007, and was a generous donor to the campaign. In November of 2010, Elizabeth once again answered the call to serve as a leader in the Ohio Stater's 75th Anniversary.

Elizabeth is past president of Moritz College of Law's alumni society. She has served as a member of the college's National Council since 1992. Recently, she was awarded the Failer Award from The Ohio State University Alumni Association.

A partner at Chester, Willcox & Saxbe, LLP, she currently serves as president of the Columbus Bar Association and past chair of its Common Pleas Court Committee. In addition, she is on the Council of Delegates of the Ohio State Bar Association, the Board of Trustees of the Equal Justice Foundation, the Board of Trustees of the Ohio Council of Economics Education, and is a past president of Women Lawyers of Franklin County. Elizabeth has received numerous awards and accolades for her service in these areas

Joel Weaver

Before his retirement in 2006, Joel Weaver was a professor of clinical dentistry and director of Pharmacology and Anesthesiology, Section of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Pathology, and Anesthesiology, at The Ohio State University College of Dentistry. He received his DDS and PhD from Ohio State in 1972 and 1976, respectively.

Joel's work as a dentist anesthesiologist at Ohio State is renowned not only throughout the state of Ohio but throughout the nation as well. He founded the second dedicated residency in anesthesiology in the United States, and the Dental/ Maxillofacial Anesthesiology Residency Program now has surpassed its 25th anniversary.

Joel was the first recipient of the OSU Medical Center's Department of Anesthesiology senior resident teaching award and also has received the Postle Teaching Award from the College of Dentistry and the Ohio Dental Association's Achievement Award. On the national and international level, Joel has received the Heidbrink Award from the American Dental Society of Anesthesiology, the Monheim Award from the American Society of Dentist Anesthesiologists, and the Horace Wells Award from the International Federation of Dental Anesthesia Societies—one of only two people in the world to have won all three.

Through Joel's efforts, The Ohio State University became known as the institution where the standard of care for dental anesthesiology was established, and the College of Dentistry has achieved a reputation as one of the centers of excellence in this field. Joel was instrumental in making Ohio the first state to develop the permit system, whereby a dentist must demonstrate education and clinical competence in sedation and/or general anesthesia before offering this service to the public. He is also the only person to have served as president of all three premier organizations for dental anesthesiology in the United States.

Despite retiring from full-time practice and teaching, Joel continues to serve Ohio State by providing service to the College of Dentistry on an as-needed basis. Joel is an outstanding example of dedication and loyalty to his profession and to his alma mater.