Ashland University Honors Alumni

Ashland University Honors Alumni
Ashland University alumni who were honored with the alumni association's annual recognition awards this year included: front row (l-r) Dr. J. Patrick Card '72, Lisa Okolish Miller '88 and Dr. Harold Wilson; and back row (l-r) State Rep. David Hall, Leigh Greenfelder '03 and Ralph Tomassi '77.
The Ashland University Alumni Association bestowed its annual recognition awards at an Awards Luncheon held on Sat., April 18, in Myers Convocation Center. The program featured seven award recipients and was open to all alumni and friends. During the program, Dr. J. Patrick Card `72 received the Outstanding Alumnus Award, while Lisa Okolish Miller `88 received the Distinguished Service Award. Leigh A. Greenfelder `03 collected the Young Alumna Award and Patricia DeMartini Williams `88 received the Special Achievement Award. The Honorary Alumnus Award went to State Representative David Hall, while the Bixler Award was presented to Dr. Harold E. Wilson and Ralph Tomassi `77 was honored with the Dr. Glenn L. Clayton Award.

Dr. J. Patrick Card ’72 of Pittsburgh, Pa., recipient of the Outstanding Alumnus Award, is a professor in the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh. He received a Ph.D. in Anatomy (Neuroanatomy) in 1979 from Wayne State University, an MS in Biological Sciences in 1975 from Wright State University and a BS in Comprehensive Science at AU in 1972.

Since 2004, Card also has served as co-director for the NIH Center for Neuroanatomy with Neurotropic Viruses at the University of Pittsburgh. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Card is involved in research in two basic categories. A long-standing focus of the laboratory is the definition of the functional organization of neural circuits involved in the control of behavioral state, autonomic function and adaptive behavior. The primary objective of these studies is to define the synaptic organization and chemical phenotype of the central networks that mediate these essential regulatory functions. The second focus of the laboratory is the development of tools for trans neuronal tracing of neural circuits. This effort, which is fundamental to the goals of the investigation of neural circuitry, incorporates mechanistic approaches.

Lisa Okolish Miller ’88 of Barberton, Ohio, recipient of the Distinguished Service Award, has served as law director for the City of Barberton since 2008. As law director, she serves as legal advisor for the city of Barberton as well as the prosecuting attorney for the Barberton Municipal Court.

Prior to that, she served as executive director for the Human Resource Commission for Summit County from 2004 to 2008.

She received a Juris Doctor from the University of Akron in May of 1991 and was admitted to the Supreme Court of Ohio in November of 1991. She received a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and Sociology with cum laude honors from AU in 1988. She has served as chair of the Ashland University Board of Trustees since 2006 and also serves as chair of the Presidential Search Committee for the board. She also is a member of many organizations in the Akron area.                         

Dr. Harold E. Wilson of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, recipient of the Professor Raymond W. Bixler Award, has served as professor in the Doctoral Program at AU since 2008 after serving as a professor at the University since 1998. He received his Ph.D. in 1964, his M.Ed. in 1954 and his B.S. in Education in 1951, all from Ohio State University.

Prior to coming to Ashland, he served as chair for the Department of Leadership & Educational Supplies at Appalachian State University from 1994 to 1997 and started in education as a professor at Appalachian State University in 1987. After military duty in the U.S. Navy, where he retired as a captain, he served as superintendent at Cuyahoga Falls City School District from 1964 to 1987. He has received a number of awards, including the Buckeye Association of School Administrators Distinguished Service Award in 2001 and the American Association of School Administrators WE CARE Award in 1999.

Leigh Greenfelder ’03 of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, recipient of the Young Alumna Award, is vice president of WhiteSpace Creative in Akron, Ohio. As vice president, she is a member of company’s executive committee responsible for all aspects of growth and management for the 45-person integrated marketing agency and has direct responsibility for daily operations of two of four client-centric teams, comprising nearly half of agency’s staff and gross income.

She previously served as vice president for PR for Whitespace Creative and had served as vice president for Highland PR in Akron from 2006 to 2013. She has been a member of many boards, including event chair for Summer Safari, president of the Board of Directors for Habitat for Humanity of Summit County, and chair of the communications committee for Akron Chapter of American Advertising Federation.

Patricia DeMartini Williams ’88 of Farmington, Mich., recipient of the Special Achievement Award, founded, in 2014, Global Health Charities (GHC) in order to fund charitable hospital and education initiatives in poverty stricken areas of the world. Over the last 25 years, Williams has dedicated her career to the improvement of healthcare services and the development of hospitals in more than 30 countries around the world, working in both the private and public sector. Her work ranges from hospital planning, equipment planning, organizational development and management, to strategic planning, operational improvement and training of hospital personnel. 

In 2008, she founded an international hospital planning, development and management company, Global Health Services Network (GHSN) with the goal of making a positive and sustainable impact on the health status of developing countries and emerging markets. She has most recently worked in Libya, Nigeria, Vietnam, Abu Dhabi, Myanmar and Ethiopia among others. She says her greatest accomplishment is her family – her husband Joe, Class of 1988, and their five sons (ages 19, 17, 13, 10 and 7). “They are the ones who inspire me and motivate me to do this work, which can sometimes get really challenging and a little scary in some locations,” she said.

State Representative David Hall of Millersburg, Ohio, recipient of the Honorary Alumnus Award, is currently serving his third term in the Ohio House of Representatives. He represents the 70th House District, which includes all of Ashland County, the western part of Medina County and northwest part of Holmes County. In the 130th General Assembly, Representative Hall was chairman of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, and a member of the House Finance and Appropriations Committee and the House Manufacturing and Workforce Development Committee. During his time as chairman, he has overseen the development of such policies as House Bill 133, 129th GA (Oil & Natural Gas Development and Public Lands Protection); House Bill 473, 129th GA (Great Lakes Water Compact); and Senate Bill 150 (Agricultural Nutrients Management).

Representative Hall’s recent achievements include being named the “2014 PCSAO Outstanding Legislator of the Year” by the Public Children Services Agencies of Ohio and the “2014 Friend of Independent Higher Education” by the Association of Independent Colleges & Universities of Ohio.

Ralph Tomassi ’77 of Ashland, Ohio, recipient of the Dr. Glenn L. Clayton Award, was serving as senior associate vice president for development at Ashland University when he retired on Oct. 10, 2014, after 36 years of service at Ashland University. Tomassi came to Ashland in 1973 and was a four-year captain of the baseball team. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education in 1977. In 1978, he returned to the then Ashland College as director of transfer admissions and has been with the institution ever since.

During his tenure at Ashland, he held many positions including Director of the Annual Fund, Executive Director for Development, Interim Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations, Executive Director for Development, Associate Vice President for Development, and Senior Associate Vice President for Development. He was involved in the planning and implementation of numerous fund raising campaigns at the University and helped bring those to successful completion, and also was the founder of the Gridiron Club and the Varsity Walk program. His dedication and commitment to the University and the city of Ashland through the years has been unmatched.


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