Keynote speaker Neal Denton shared his memories of being a student on the Athens campus

Photographer: Wayne Thomas


New student trustee Amanda Roden is applauded at Leadership Gala as President Roderick J. McDavis (left) and Vice President for Student Affairs Kent J. Smith (center) look on

Photographer: Wayne Thomas


Associate Director of the Multicultural Center Winsome Chunnu-Brayda shows off her Outstanding Student Organization Advisor Award

Photographer: Wayne Thomas

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Leadership Gala honors OHIO leaders Wednesday

More than 40 people honored for service to University

Wednesday night ushered in the "best of what Ohio University has to offer," according to President Roderick J. McDavis, at the 29th annual Leadership Awards Gala hosted by the Division of Student Affairs.

The annual event, which was held in the Baker University Center Ballroom, presented more than 40 students, faculty, staff members and student organizations with awards and celebrated OHIO leadership as a whole.

After dinner, attendees were treated to a keynote address by Neal Denton, Ohio University alumnus and the senior vice president of government relations and strategic partnerships at American Red Cross. Following his walk down memory lane of times at "(his) Baker" and the "old Front Room," he said that through time, the leadership skills remain the same. He let the congregation in on his list of five ongoing lessons that he has learned and continues to learn and transform.

Denton said he daily reminds himself of the five lessons: build the best team possible; know your mission and keep your eye on the ball; embrace change and be ready to change your course; listen, be inclusive and be decisive; and be resilient.

"Leadership does not have a special code. It's about trust, resilience and change," he said. "Leadership is all about – character. … I'll end by asking you this, 'What's your character?'"

The alumnus challenged the audience to think beyond college life, while always remembering the experiences at Ohio University that cultivated them into who they are today. McDavis reiterated Denton's message by pointing to the legacy each student leader leaves behind.

"I am very pleased to recognize the contributions of each of our student leaders," McDavis said in his introductory remarks. "You are leaders because you have a vision and aspirations to make change."

McDavis introduced departing Vice President for Student Affairs Kent Smith with a student-produced video thanking Smith for his time at Ohio University. Emotionally, Smith used the podium to offer his parting words and his gratitude to students and colleagues before setting sights on his new role as president of Langston University in Oklahoma.

"In all seriousness, I should be thanking you all," Smith said. "I will continue to understand and realize how special this place is."

He said Ohio University has made him "stronger, better, more mature" in his six and a half years here.

Among the many leaders honored at the gala, one student was chosen as the next student trustee – a much-awaited-for element of the award banquet. Amanda Roden, sophomore Spanish major, was selected by Gov. John Kasich to serve a two-year term on the Ohio University Board of Trustees.

"My jaw literally dropped," Roden said, in regard to her reaction after McDavis called her name. "I am most excited to serve the University in the best way possible, to represent the students' voice. It is about compromise and listening and I want to work on student visibility."

Additional distinguished award winners of the night were Ashanti Murdock, senior public relations and dance double major, who received an Outstanding Senior Leader Award and the John Newton Templeton Designation, Lindsay Boyle, senior online journalism major, who also won an Outstanding Senior Leader Award and Wenkai Tong, a senior accounting and finance double major, who took home the Charles J. Ping International Student Leadership Award and an Outstanding Senior Leader Award.

"It is overwhelming when I think how many seniors are at this college," Boyle said. "I invest so much time into being a leader, so I am glad to be recognized."

Outstanding Student Organization Programming Award were presented to The Future Women of Appalachia - for its spring 2011 program, the second annual "Girl Power Etiquette Formal." The award was also given to the International Student Union for its fall 2011 "International Dinner 2011" and the Black Student Cultural Programming Board for its "My Grandma has AIDS" program during winter quarter.

The Leadership Gala was made possible by contributions from: Amstar Energy Group, Beta Theta Pi Fraternity, Chase, Mahoney Environmental, Ohio Realty, Ohio University Credit Union and University Medical Associates.

29th Annual Leadership Awards Gala winners, May 23, 2012

On Wednesday, Ohio University honored its students, faculty, staff members and student organizations. The full list of winners follows:

Stonewall Leadership Award:
Corey Frederick

King/Chavez/Parks Award:
Markita Briggs

Blackburn/Spencer Scholarship Award:
Zainab B. Jandeh
Gabrielle O. Kisner
Tessa S. Scott

Latino Heritage Award:
Connor Guernica Hoge
Alex Martinez
Ivan Velez

Francine Childs Diversity Leadership Award:
Keith Hawkins

Charles J. Ping International Student Leadership Award:
Dyah 'Arin'ingtyas Hening

Outstanding Student Organization Advisor Award:
Winsome Chunnu-Brayda, Ph.D.

Outstanding Student Organization Programming Awards:
Spring 2011 –
"Second Annual Girl power Etiquette Formal" by Future Women of Appalachia
Fall 2011 –
"International Dinner 2011" by International Student Union
Winter 2012 –
"My Grandma has AIDS" by Black Student Cultural Programming Board

Edwin L. Kennedy Award Leadership Award for Outstanding Community Service:
Individual –
Eric Horton
Organization Award –
Ohio University Chapter of the American Meteorological Society

Women's Issues Leadership Award:
Shea Daniels

Outstanding Graduate Student Leadership Award:
Masters – Vincent Harris
Doctoral – Erin Dame

The Rudy Leadership Award for Outstanding Student Leadership:
Jonathan Renard

Division of Student Affairs Faculty Contribution Award Recipients:
Susan Tice-Alicke, Ph.D.
Tom Vander Ven, Ph.D.

Pepsi Ohio University Campus Leadership Scholarships:
Heather Bartman
Amanda Cotleur
Alexis Hartnett
Kayla Hardimon
Grant M. Hesser
Makaley Ikirt
Eden Kinkaid
Gabrielle Kisner
Allison Ragland
Blayr Richie
MacKenzie Snyder
Hannah Stanton-Gockel

Outstanding Senior Leader Awards:
Linsday Boyle
Sarah Burkhart
Kyle Clem
Scott Eardley
Jessica Huizenga
Jordan Thompson
Kyle Triplett
Wenkai Tong
Ashanti Murdock*

*signifies student received John Newton Templeton Designation