03/03/2020 ASHLAND, Ohio – The Ashland University Alumni Association will present its annual recognition awards at a luncheon on Saturday, April 18, at 11:30 a.m. at the John C. Myers Convocation Center on the AU campus. The program will feature eight award recipients and is open to all alumni and friends. Reservations are required. Those who would like to attend can reserve online at ashland.edu/alumni-awards-2020 or by calling the AU Office of Alumni Engagement at 419.289.5040.
During the program, Thomas Minnich (’81) will receive the Outstanding Alumnus Award, while Karl Keith (’78) will receive the Distinguished Service Award. Noah Schumacher (Ashland Theological Seminary ’14) will be presented the Drushal Humanitarian Award and Dr. Mark Smithberger (’02) of Cleveland will collect the Professor Raymond W. Bixler Award. The Young Alumnus Award will go to Adam Shaheen (’18), while the Special Achievement Award will be presented to Dr. Christina Fox (’98). Jim and Margaret Hess of Ashland will be receiving the Honorary Alumni Award and Dr. John Byron will be honored with the Dr. Glenn L. Clayton award.
Minnich received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, majoring in accounting and finance, and went on to earn a Master of Business degree from Frostburg State University in Maryland in 1984. He began his career in banking and in 1978 joined Eagle Rubber Co. in Ashland. In 1993, Minnich joined Kuhlman Electric Corp. in Lexington, Kentucky and was named president and CEO in 2005, leading the company through its sale to ABB in 2008. Minnich was recognized as a Top Global Manager in 2009 before retiring in late 2011.
Minnich currently serves as a consultant and has joined the boards of Radix Wire and American Bath. He and his wife Loretta are members of Ashland University’s President’s Circle and have established four endowed scholarships. They have two sons and four grandchildren.
Keith was appointed Montgomery County auditor in December of 2000 and elected to five four-year terms. A Certified Cash Manager, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Ashland College in 1978 and a Master of Arts from Miami University in 1979. Keith is a past president of the County Auditors Association of Ohio, was named Ohio’s Outstanding County Auditor in 2012 and received a lifetime achievement award from the Government Finance Officers of Ohio in 2016.
He served two terms as a member of the Ashland University Alumni Association Board of Directors and was its president in 2014 and 2015. Keith and his wife Doris reside in Dayton.
Schumacher grew up in a home where a radical love for both Jesus and people abounded, which led him to a life of serving others. After high school, his travels led him to serve others and spread his Christian faith. He often spends time training Christian leaders in Central America, Africa, Eastern Europe and the Middle East.
Schumacher leads Compassion Church in Canton, along with his wife Michelle and children Caleb, Kennedy, and Camden. The family as a whole also made the decision that live liver donation was an adventure in following Jesus to new depths.
Smithberger earned three degrees from Ashland University: an undergraduate degree in integrated social studies, a master’s degree in education administration and a doctorate in educational leadership. His teaching career began at Berkshire High School and continued later at Bay High School and Strongsville High School. In 2019, he was named principal at Berea-Midpark High School.
Throughout his career, Smithberger has been recognized for his work; most recently receiving the 2019 Ohio Association of Secondary School Administrators Ohio Principal of the Year. He serves on the Telesis Advisory Council for the AU Schar College of Education and is an adjunct professor at Baldwin Wallace University’s School of Education. He and his wife Lisa reside in the Cleveland area with their two children.
Shaheen made a big impact during his time with the AU football team, earning two AFCA All-America and two CoSIDA Academic All-America awards, and being named the 2016-17 GLIAC Male Student-Athlete of the Year. He set a new NCAA Division II single-season record for touchdown catches by a tight end with 16 in 2016, and continues to rank number 6 on Ashland’s all-time receptions list with 129. Shaheen became the highest-drafted player in program history when he was taken by the Chicago Bears in the second round of the 2017 National Football League draft, and recently completed his third season with the Bears.
Fox earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Ashland University in 1998 and a Doctor of Optometry degree from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry in 2002. She has owned and operated her own practice in Bucyrus since 2008.
Fox has participated in 15 vision mission trips to various countries over the years with Volunteer Optometric Service to Humanity and is currently on the boards of both VOSH and the Bucyrus Rotary Club. In addition, she volunteers her time in local schools doing screenings and educational presentations and also is in the process of becoming a foster parent.
As Ashland residents, Jim and Margaret Ann Hess have long-standing connections to Ashland College and Ashland University. Their involvement on campus has included taking classes, attending lectures and sporting events, speaking at a Seminary leadership program, serving as an advisory committee member and Board member, raising funds for the Prayer Garden and cheering for the Eagles. Jim Hess currently serves on the Executive Committee of the AU Board of Trustees.
Byron is interim vice president and executive dean and professor of New Testament at Ashland Theological Seminary. He completed undergraduate studies at Elim Bible Institute in Lima, New York, earned a Master of Arts degree in Biblical and Theological Studies from Regent University in Virginia Beach, Virginia, completed post-graduate work at Jerusalem University College in Jerusalem and a received a Doctorate in Theology from the University of Durham (England).
Byron is the author of six books and more than 30 published articles and essays. He served as a translator for the Common English Bible, is a columnist for Biblical Archaeology Review and excavated at Tel-Gezer in Israel. He has been married to Lori Byron since 1990.
Ashland University is a mid-sized, comprehensive private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Religiously affiliated with the Brethren Church, Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) deeply values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students. ###