Randy Spade is presented with ESGR Patriot Award

AU Executive Director of Admissions Randy Spade selected as a Patriot Award recipient by ESGR

Published on May 21, 2024
Ashland University

ASHLAND, Ohio – Randy Spade, the executive director of admissions at Ashland University, was recognized with the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve’s (ESGR) Patriot Award during a ceremony at AU’s Jack W. Liebert Military and Veteran Resource Center on May 17.

An ESGR Patriot Award is awarded to individual supervisors who contribute to “national security and protecting liberty and freedom by supporting employee participation in America’s National Guard and Reserve Force,” as stated on the certificate. It recognizes an individual’s dedication and efforts made to support citizen warriors through a wide range of measures, including flexible schedules, time off prior to and after deployment, caring for families and granting leaves of absence as needed.

Spade found himself at a rare loss of words when formally presented with the honor by John McCance, chairman of the Ohio Committee for ESGR, and Ernie Stone, the committee’s employer outreach director.

“This just kind of threw me for an entire loop, a whole loop, a 360-degree loop. I’m grateful and I’m honored beyond the words that I can say. I love what we do. I love who we do it for. And, I love that we’re all together again to do that,” said a completely surprised Spade, who was joined by most of the admissions staff for the occasion. “From the bottom of my heart, thank you. This means a lot.”

Winners of the award are nominated by an employee serving in the National Guard or Reserve and then the state committee reviews the nomination. Spade was nominated by Ryan Yeater, a full-time recruitment specialist for AU who also serves as a staff sergeant and motor transport operator for the Ohio National Guard.

“Randy Spade has been a military advocate since the day I met him and even before. He believes that those in the military should be recognized and have benefits that (are) utilized to their potential. He believes that veterans, current military, military spouses and children have unique experiences,” wrote Yeater in his nomination letter.

Yeater continued, “Within the past five years, he has taken Ashland University to a standard of military and veteran services that colleges and universities not only in Ohio, but nationwide, look up to. He has taken an office that was in a back corner and transformed it into a standalone building, a housing option and dedicated employees that deal with veterans and their children in order to maximize their educational benefits. He strives to see everyone that walks though his door come through the other side with a degree in their hand and as little debt as possible. He has assisted with fundraisers and campaigns all in the name of veteran support. Randy is the poster child of what a civilian military supporter should strive to be.”

McCance noted that ESGR supports approximately 28,000 Reserve Component members in 318 units across Ohio and the committee gives out “maybe 50 Patriot Awards” per year.

“When a Reserve Component member takes the time to make the application … that, to me, speaks volumes of the relationship between the Reserve Component member and their employer and the culture in which that member has the opportunity to serve. So, thank you very much for supporting (Ryan) and all of the Reserve Component members, and this facility is amazing,” McCance remarked.

Spade, who has held various positions at AU since July 2015, is not a veteran himself, but he feels called to support military-connected employees as well as students and their families.

“They deserve our respect and admiration and our care and compassion. Taking care of them is the best thing we can do to support our patriotic duty. There’s no higher honor than taking care of those men and women,” explained Spade.

He continued, “I can tell you every veteran that I’ve ever worked with and everyone of their stories and … everyone of their journeys that we went on together. You don’t get opportunities like that very often, and I get to have those every day. Every new veteran we meet is … a new journey we get to go on, a new adventure. To help them create a new life after their service to our country is so rewarding, it’s not work. It’s the adventure of a lifetime.”

AU, a member of the first class of Collegiate Purple Star campuses, proudly supports the 408 military-connected students (and their families) who were enrolled last academic year as well as the thousands of alumni who are veterans.

“It’s an honor for the university to receive an award that recognizes how much we care about our military teammates. We’re happy to be a place where service members know that when they come home, their team is still waiting for them,” said Spade of the Patriot Award.

ESGR, established in 1972, is a Department of Defense program that develops and promotes supportive work environments for Reserve Component members from the National Guard and Reserve. With a staff comprised of dedicated and trained volunteers, ESGR advocates relevant initiatives, recognizes outstanding support, increases awareness of applicable laws and resolves conflict between civilian employers and service members.

Ashland University is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University (www.ashland.edu) 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.