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.



George W. Acock, Jr.

Image of George W. Acock, Jr.

For nearly six decades, George W. Acock Jr. has been an engaged partner of The Ohio State University. His dedication to the university is evident through his remarkable architectural achievements and his unwavering support for new generations of Buckeyes at the Knowlton School of Architecture (KSA).

Mr. Acock aspired to become an architect from a young age. His pursuit of this ambition led him to Ohio State, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in architecture in 1963. Four years later, he founded Acock Associates Architects, one of the 10 largest architecture firms in the region, where he currently serves as president and principal-in-charge.

Acock Associates Architects has led the transformation of some of the most significant buildings on campus, including Thompson Library, Sullivant Hall and the newly renovated Pomerene Hall. Each of Mr. Acock’s projects exemplifies his devotion to his alma mater and his talent for preserving the grandeur of Ohio State’s most historic buildings.

In addition to these notable projects, Mr. Acock served KSA as a teacher, philanthropist, program designer and mentor — providing countless architecture students with real-world learning experiences. He established KSA’s Italy Program to facilitate broad cultural exchange by exposing students to the influence of ancient, medieval and Renaissance masters.

An accomplished watercolorist, Mr. Acock has donated over 100 of his own watercolor paintings to campus buildings as part of various fundraising activities. He has also dedicated his vast expertise to the boards of several local nonprofit organizations, city commissions and educational institutions.

Mr. Acock received the alumni association’s Professional Achievement Award in 2009 and was named one of “Ten Distinguished Alumni” at the KSA centennial celebration. In 2015, he was elevated to the American Institute of Architects’ prestigious College of Fellows.

He and his wife, Deb, reside in Columbus.

Linda S. Kass

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Linda S. Kass is a steadfast advocate for education, literacy, and the arts. During her nine-year term on Ohio State’s Board of Trustees, her service and leadership were integral to the university’s commitment to expand access to an excellent and affordable college education. She has continued her service as a director of the OSU Foundation Board.

A Columbus native, Ms. Kass earned her bachelor’s degree at University of Pennsylvania, and came back to pursue a master’s degree in journalism at Ohio State. She wrote for several regional and national print publications and worked as a communications and public relations executive in the telecommunications industry in Detroit and New York before returning to central Ohio in 1987.

During her tenure with the Board of Trustees, Ms. Kass served on several notable committees, chairing both the Advancement Committee and the Academic Affairs and Student Life Committee—her engagement on the latter instrumental in the development of the Second-year Transformational Experience Program (STEP). She also co-led a sweeping effort to enhance the university’s marketing, fundraising and engagement activities by aligning key functions to maximize coordination and impact across the enterprise. She served as vice chair of the full board for the last two years of her term.

In addition to her board service, Ms. Kass is a dedicated supporter of countless programs at Ohio State—including several with a particular focus on creative expression. She established the Young Writers Workshop, an immersive week-long program for high school students from Columbus City Schools and other regional districts to live on campus and study with experienced authors, graduate students and alumni. An avid cyclist, she has participated in Pelotonia since its inception.

Highly involved throughout the greater Columbus community, Ms. Kass has held leadership roles with the Bexley Education Foundation, Capital University, the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, and the United Way of Central Ohio, among others.

A writer and editor, Ms. Kass is the founding owner of Gramercy Books, an independent bookstore located in Bexley, Ohio just east of downtown Columbus.

Dr. William "Ted" McDaniel, Jr.

Image of Dr. William 'Ted' McDaniel, Jr.

Dr. William “Ted” McDaniel Jr. is a passionate promoter of jazz history, music performance, African American culture and inclusive excellence at The Ohio State University.

Hailing from the iconic Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee, Dr. McDaniel’s appreciation for music was evident from the start. His passion shaped his educational pursuits as he went on to earn his bachelor’s degree from Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, and his master’s degree and PhD in music from the University of Iowa.

Dr. McDaniel brought his expertise to Ohio State in 1981, holding joint faculty appointments in the School of Music as director of jazz studies and in the Department of African American and African Studies, where he served as department chair from 1989 to 1996. He worked tirelessly to promote a culture of inclusion and respect, and served as a mentor and advocate for his fellow faculty members.

He also served as director of the Ohio State Jazz Ensemble for 25 years. Under his leadership, the ensemble toured internationally at several of the most prestigious jazz festivals in Europe. His students have gone on to hold significant positions in some of the most respected bands, while others have written for major productions in film and television.

An influential composer-arranger in his own right, he has written over 200 arrangements for jazz and marching bands, including compositions for The Ohio State University Marching Band. In 2011, he served as the music conductor for the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Monument in Washington, D.C.

Dr. McDaniel was the recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award in 1987, the Distinguished Scholar Award in 1994, the Distinguished Diversity Enhancement Award in 2000 and a 2011 Faculty Award for Distinguished University Service. He retired from Ohio State in 2015 and continues to serve the university community as faculty emeritus.