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President Roderick J. McDavis hosted the Federal Government Alumni Luncheon on behalf of the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs
President Roderick J. McDavis hosted the Federal Government Alumni Luncheon on behalf of the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs.
Photo courtesy of: Chad Bartlett

Alumni in federal government gather for D.C. event

Richard May recognized for outstanding service

From staff reports
September 16, 2015

Ohio University alumni came together at The National Press Club in Washington D.C. on Sept. 10 to reconnect with University officials and honor one of their own for outstanding service to the nation.

The annual Federal Government Alumni Luncheon brings together Bobcats who hold positions serving the U.S. government. The event, which is in its fourth year, includes the presentation of the Outstanding Federal Government Alumni Award. This year’s honor went to ’76 and ’82 alumnus Richard E. May.

May was humbled by the honor, and spoke of the many individuals who have contributed to his success, including his wife Vickie, and his late parents. He also acknowledged Voinovich School Founding Dean Mark Weinberg, and the other Ohio University faculty who led him to a career in politics.

“I remember taking a midterm in Bentley Hall my senior year, and professor Sung-Ho Kim called out my name asking, ‘Who is Richard May and why are you in my class?’” May laughed. “Professor Kim continued by saying, ‘You got a perfect score on my midterm. No one gets a perfect score on my midterm.’ Of course then the entire class groaned because there went the curve.”

May expressed that Ohio University was the best thing to happen to him in his life, and credited faculty like professor Kim for recognizing his potential and leading him in the right direction.

Criteria for the Outstanding Federal Government Alumni Award include significant achievement in one’s profession, public service to the United States and service contributions to the public affairs program at Ohio University.

May completed both an undergraduate degree and a master’s degree at Ohio University, studying chemistry and earth science as an undergrad and political science as a graduate student. Since completing his education at OHIO, May has worked at both the state and federal government levels as a budget expert and has played a significant role balancing both the federal and state budgets during time of high budget deficits. Currently, May serves as the staff director of the U.S. House Budget Committee.

The event also featured remarks from Ohio University President Roderick McDavis and Voinovich School Founding Dean Mark Weinberg as well as a keynote speech by award-winning journalist Andrew N. Alexander.

Alexander’s address provided insight into the communication tendencies of the millennial generation, and suggested ways to connect with an audience that many journalists and government officials struggle to understand.

“What seems to engage them is authenticity,” Alexander observed. “Messages from authority are tuned out, but user-generated content that comes from their peers does not seem contrived. This is an exciting time, there is more good and bad journalism than ever before, and I admire how optimistic journalism students are about the field.”

Alexander currently serves as a visiting professional at Ohio University’s Scripps College of Communication and an executive in residence at the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs. Alexander began his career as editor of The Post and has since worked with Cox Newspapers, where he was eventually named chief of the Washington bureau. He has reported from more than 50 countries and is a strong advocate for open government. Alexander graduated from Ohio University in 1972, was named Alumnus of the Year in 2011, and received an honorary doctorate last May.

Over 60 people attended the luncheon, which was hosted by President McDavis on behalf of the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs. Among those in attendance was former Ohio University Alumni Association board member and the Voinovich School’s Appalachian New Economy Partnership Fellow, Jeffrey Finkle.

“It’s a privilege to spend the afternoon with fellow Bobcats who are working and serving our country as leaders in Washington, D.C. I’m always humbled by the tremendous talent gathered in the room at the luncheon” Finkle said.

The Federal Government Alumni Luncheon is an annual event, which aims to connect former and current U.S. government employees with each other as well as University leadership. The luncheon celebrates the achievements of those alumni who have made a significant impact on policy and other government objectives.