The Ashland University Alumni Association will bestow its annual recognition awards during the 2011 Homecoming Reunion and Awards Brunch on Oct. 15 at 11 a.m. in Myers Convocation Center. The program will feature 10 award recipients and is open to all alumni and friends. Those planning to attend are asked to call the Ashland University Office of Alumni and Parent Relations at (419) 289-5082.
During the program, Gayle Gorman Freeman ’77 will receive the Outstanding Alumna Award, while Thomas Pickering ’58 will receive the Distinguished Service Award. The Drushal Humanitarian Award will be given to Jennifer Viola ‘04 and the Raymond D. Bixler Award will be presented to Kay Walther Leath ’93 MED. James Hill ’02 will be named as the Young Alumnus while Ed ’41 and Betty ’45 Plank will accept the Special Achievement Award. Gunther and Jeanne Meisse of Mansfield will be named as Honorary Alumni and Steve Krispinsky will be honored with the Dr. Glenn L. Clayton Award.
Freeman serves as president of Manairco Inc. in Mansfield, a manufacturer of airport/heliport lighting equipment. She received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Ashland University.
She currently serves on the board for a number of organizations, including the Keybank Central Ohio Advisory Board; North Central State College Foundation Board of Directors; Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, Aviation Committee; Richland County Foundation; Friends of the Guard, 179th Airlift Wing/Ohio Air National Guard; and Co-Chair of Capital Campaign for Ashland University’s College of Nursing. She also serves as a member of IES, Illuminating Engineering Society of North America; Ninety Nines: International Organization of Women Pilots; Mansfield Aviation Club; International Association of Women Helicopter Pilots; and Altrusa Club of Mansfield.
She has received numerous awards, including the J.C. Penney – Spirit of the American Woman award in 1990; the Athena Award in Mansfield in 1991; was named to Top 10 Women Business Owners/Cleveland in 1997 and North Central Ohio Entrepreneurs Hall of Fame in 2007.
She is past president of the Mansfield-Richland Incubator, Mansfield Aviation Club, North Central State College Foundation Board of Directors, Altrusa Club of Mansfield, and New Beginnings Alcoholic Recovery House for Women. She also served as chairman of the Mansfield-Richland Area Chamber Commerce Board of Directors and chairman of the Board for the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, and served as vice president of International Women Helicopter Pilots Association and on the Mansfield Keybank Advisory Board and Defiance College Board of Trustees.
Pickering of Westfield Center, Ohio, is an Ashland High School graduate and received a bachelor of science in business administration degree from Ashland University. He was employed with Ohio Farmers Insurance Company (Westfield Group) in Westfield Center from 1958 to 2000 in various information technology, accounting and management positions. He retired as executive vice president and secretary.
He has been a trustee of Ashland University since 1996, serving as assistant secretary, audit committee chair and on the Investment and Academic Affairs Committees. He also has served on the Finance and Facilities and Development Committees and was Leadership Gift Chair of the Building on Strength Campaign from 1999 to 2004.
Pickering has been director of Lodi Community Hospital – Akron General Health System since 1999 and chairman since 2005. He also has served as director of Akron General Partners – Akron General Health System since 2010. He is a member and treasurer of LeRoy United Methodist Church and president of All Sport Printwear Inc. since 2004.
He was a member of the Medina County Vocational Center Board of Education from 1983 to 1989 and served one year as president, and served as a member of the Cloverleaf Local Schools Board of Education from 1974 to 1990, including several years as president. He was a trustee of Westfield Group Foundation from 2001 to 2008 and served as chairman and secretary-treasurer.
He and his wife, Ruth, have a son and daughter and six grandchildren.
Viola majored in therapeutic recreation and psychology at Ashland University. During this time she volunteered at Camp Cheerful, Dancing Wheels and Fresh Air Camp, all organizations that support children and adults with physical disabilities.
After graduation, she joined the Society of African Missions as a lay volunteer under the Catholic Church and was assigned to Tanzania in East Africa. There, she worked at a community AIDS project for three years assisting in the overall running of the program. She helped organize five different HIV monthly support group meetings, one of which was for children, and provided therapeutic activities, education and food along with the center’s staff. She also ran the orphan and vulnerable children program, where she assessed and registered children to schools, provided support meetings and play opportunities, and organized special events such as Day of the African Child and World AIDS Day marches.
Her personal mission was to provide support and relief to those most abandoned through monetary contributions and compassion and to increase their quality of life one day at a time through laughter, play and community support. The lessons and awareness she learned in Tanzania has forever shaped her life.
She has been working as a recreational therapist in Colorado Springs, Colo., at a behavioral health hospital for the past three years. She provides treatment to children, adults, soldiers and their families with mental health issues.
Leath of North Canton, Ohio, received a master of educational administration from Ashland University and is a doctoral candidate at the University of Akron. She has been an adjunct faculty member at Ashland University since 2002 and serves as a part-time faculty member at the University of Akron in the Family and Consumer Sciences Department. She teaches in grades 6-12 at North Canton City Schools, where she has been since 1982. She holds assistant superintendent, secondary administration and supervisor education certifications.
She has received several honors including the Kent State Jennings Institute Educator Award in 2010, the Plain Local Schools Distinguished Alumni Award in 2009, the Distinguished Alumni Award - Kent State University Stark Campus in 2000, the Outstanding Educator Award from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society N.E. Ohio Chapter in 2000, a Disney’s American Teacher Award nomination in 2000, the “Educator Of The Year” award from the Phi Delta Kappa McKinley Chapter in 1999, the Teacher of the Year - Semi-Finalist Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce in 1999, the Leadership Stark County Nominee in 1996, 1997 & 1998, WHBC “Apples for the Teacher” Award in 1996 and the “Good Neighbor Award” from the East Ohio Gas Company in 1993 and 1995.
She is a member of The Chestnut Society, the University of Akron Alumni Association Canton Women’s Club, the College Club of Canton, Ashland University Alumni Association, Congress Lake Country Club, Akron City Club and Kent State University Alumni Association.
Hill started with Edward Jones Investments as a Financial Advisor two weeks after graduation from Ashland University and has been there since. His office is located in Mansfield and he works with individuals to help them achieve their serious, long-term financial objectives, including planning for retirement, education and wealth transfer.
He was invited to become a partner of the firm in 2007 and also has taken on responsibilities as Recruiting Leader and New Financial Advisor Trainer for the central Ohio region. He has worked to recruit and hire over 20 Ashland students at Edward Jones since he started in 2002. He has won a number of awards including Managing Partner's Award, Winner's Circle Award, and Century Award.
Hill currently serves on the College of Nursing Campaign volunteer committee and is actively involved with Phi Kappa Psi and serves on the House Corporation Board. He also serves on the Eagle Investment Group Advisory Board as well as the Board of Directors of Camp NuHop, which is a camp for children with special needs in Ashland County.
He and his wife, Megan, live in Bellville, Ohio, and have one son, Braeden, who is 2 years old.
Ed Plank, known as Bud, enrolled at Ashland in 1937 and lettered in football, basketball and baseball and graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in business administration and economics. After serving in World War II for 24 months, he returned to Ashland University and earned a bachelor of science degree in education.
His 33 years of teaching were all in the Ashland City Schools where he began in the present middle school and had all boys in grades seven through 12 in physical education. He continued to teach in the new high school where he taught health, government, economics and later driver education. He coached baseball for 22 years and was an assistant basketball coach for 18 years. In 1979, he was honored as “Teacher of the Year.” When he retired in 1980, the high school baseball diamond was named “Bud Plank Field.”
He assisted Bill Mills in founding the Ashland County Sports Hall of Fame in 1984 and was inducted into the hall in 1992. He is a former member of the Ashland College Alumni Committee and for 12 years served on the selection committee for the Ashland University Sports Hall of Fame.
Betty Plank graduated from Ashland University with a bachelor of science in education degree with majors in English and speech. Her first teaching position was at Polk School and she moved to Wadsworth where she taught English and directed plays. After her marriage to Ed, she returned to Ashland and taught American Literature and Journalism for 16 years and substituted for 14 more.
She became an active member of the Ashland County Historical Society and served two terms as president. She developed an interest in local history and began writing historical articles for the Ashland Times-Gazette. Eventually these were compiled in a book titled “Historic Ashland County,” which was published in 1987. This was followed by two other volumes in 1995 and 2005.
In 2005, she was honored as a “Distinguished Alumnus of Ashland High School.” She and her husband were honored by the Historical Society in 2010 for their contributions to the community. In 1960, the couple adopted two nieces following the death of their parents in a plane crash.
Gunther Meisse serves as president of Mid-State Multimedia Group in Mansfield, which includes WMFD-TV, WOHZ-TV, WVNO Radio and WRGM Radio. Born and raised in Mansfield, he graduated from Mansfield Senior High School in 1960. He and his wife, Jeanne, reside in Mansfield and have six grown children and 17 grandchildren.
In 2010, Meisse was honored to be selected as a North Central State College "Entrepreneur of the Year” and was recognized by the Mansfield/Richland Chamber of Commerce as a “Leader of the Year.” In 2011, he was involved with the development fund drive for Ashland University College of Nursing’s new campus in Mansfield.
Meisse has served on the board of the Richland/Mansfield Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber Economic Foundation, the National Association of FM Broadcasters, the Ohio Association of Broadcasters and is presently on the board of the Radio Advertising Bureau. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Broadcasters.
Meisse formed the North Central Ohio Association of Broadcasters in the mid ’70s and also served as president of the local Community Improvement Corporation (CIC), and of Richland County Growth Corporation, which later became the Richland Economic Development Corporation. He also was one of the founders of the Richland Community Development Group and serves as its vice-chairman. He presently serves on the Board of the North Central State College Foundation and also chairs the UW Capital Drive Gateway Committee.
Jeanne Meisse was born and raised in Lawrenceburg, Tenn., graduating as salutatorian of her high school class. She received a B.S. at the University of Tennessee in 1963 and M.S. from Arizona State University in 1965. As a home economics teacher, she taught school one year in Phoenix, Ariz., and five years at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles, Calif., retiring from teaching in June 1970 to raise a family. After moving to Ohio in 1973, she was a stay-at-home mom for two young sons and became an active community volunteer.
She is currently active in and was a former president of Pleasant Valley Garden Club, Wednesday Study Club and Mansfield Area Delta Gamma Alumnae Group. She also serves on the newly organized Friends of Kingwood committee.
In 2008, she was elected vice president of Johnny Appleseed Broadcasting Co. Inc., GSM Media Inc., and Mid State Television Inc. In 1980-81, after her late husband’s untimely death, she was interim president of Mansfield Aircraft Products and subsequently a consultant for the new owners, Midland-Ross Corporation.
While currently serving on the capital fund drive committee for Ashland University’s Dwight Schar College of Nursing, she has attained a new level of excitement and appreciation for the leadership and staff of Ashland University and the field of nursing. She also served on the Mansfield Area Y capital campaign committee for its new building.
Krispinsky has worked at Ashland University for more than 30 years. He started as assistant director of special programs in 1978, was promoted to director in 1980 and soon became director of the bachelor of science in business administration evening and weekend program. He became director of the BSBA and MBA Extension programs and served in that role until he was appointed to his current position as executive director of the MBA Program in 1996.
Krispinsky is a member of the Dauch College of Business and Economics Dean’s Council, a member of Graduate Council and has served on numerous faculty and administrative search committees. He also is a member of the MBA Curriculum Committee and a member of the MBA Admissions Committee and chaired search committees for Assistant Director of MBA Program. He also served as a member of the Ashland University Marketing Committee during the 1990s.
Krispinsky received the Ellis Award from the Dauch College of Business and Economics in 1994 and 1995, as well as the Academic Mentor Award in 1996. He is an honorary member of Delta Mu Delta (National Honorary Business Society) and a member of Omicron Delta Kappa national leadership society. He also served on the initial ACBSP committee for the Business School accreditation in 1992-1993.
Krispinsky has a master of arts degree from Bowling Green State University and a bachelor of science degree from Ferris State University, and Ph.D. coursework completed at Ohio University. He and his wife, Patti, have three children, Danny (’06, ’10 MBA), Michael and Kelly, currently a sophomore at Ashland.
Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University 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.