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Faith Voinovich, Ohio University student and granddaughter of George Voinovich, accepts the Outstanding Federal Government Alumni Award on behalf of her late grandfather.
Faith Voinovich, Ohio University student and granddaughter of George Voinovich, accepts the Outstanding Federal Government Alumni Award on behalf of her late grandfather.

George Voinovich honored with tribute at Federal Government Alumni Luncheon

Daniel Kington
September 23, 2016

Ohio University alumni came together at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. on Sept. 22 to reconnect with the University and honor one of their own for outstanding service to the nation, Senator George V. Voinovich.

The annual Federal Government Alumni Luncheon brings together Bobcats who hold positions serving the U.S. government. The event, which is in its fifth year, includes the presentation of the Outstanding Federal Government Alumni Award. This year’s honor was posthumously awarded to Senator Voinovich.

“Senator Voinovich took his Ohio University education and used it to transform our state, our nation and our world. Now the school that he is named after strives to do the same,” Ohio University President Roderick McDavis said to the crowd of more than 100 luncheon attendees.

The tribute garnered bipartisan support, with President Obama and leaders of both parties praising the legacy of Voinovich as a practical problem-solver.

From his start as a member of the Ohio House of Representatives and then transition to Mayor of Cleveland, followed with his ascent to Governor of Ohio and finally his 12 years as a United States Senator, George Voinovich endeavored for more than 40 years to make all levels of government, “work harder and smarter and do more with less.”"Senator Voinovich was a patriot who dedicated his life to serving others," President Obama said in a message read at the tribute event. "In his 46 years in public service, he worked tirelessly on behalf of the people of Ohio, reaching across the aisle to stand up for what he believed in."

Voinovich died on June 12 at age 79. His dedication to public service was second only to his love and devotion to his family including his wife, Janet; his four children, George, Betsy, Peter and Molly, who died at a young age; and his nine grandchildren.

Three Voinovich family members, including the Senator’s granddaughter and current Ohio University student Faith Voinovich, accepted the award on the family’s behalf.

"He had a way of making everyone feel like they were incredibly important,” Faith said. "It didn’t matter to him where they’d gone to school, what career path they had taken - It mattered to him how they were in the world."

The event featured remarks from Founding Dean of the Voinovich School, Mark Weinberg and Congressman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) as well as a keynote address by U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), who was a long-time Voinovich colleague.  

In talking about Voinovich, Carper noted, "George understood that we lead by our example - it’s not do as I say, it’s do as I do. George understood that our job is not to hold up our finger to see which way the winds are blowing, but to have the courage to stay out of step when everyone else is marching to the wrong tune."

Additionally, both Ohio senators sent video tributes.

“George’s legacy lives on, in the hills of Southeast Ohio.  The Voinovich School embodies the best in George Voinovich’s spirit of collaboration,” Senator Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said.

Senator Rob Portman, R-Ohio, noted that Voinovich was elected student body president at Ohio University.  He called Voinovich “a public servant without equal in Ohio, and above all, just an amazing man and a mentor of mine.”

A video tribute to the Senator’s living legacy, commemorating his founding of the Voinovich School, also debuted at the luncheon.

In the nation’s capital throughout the day of the event, digital signs in bus shelters across the city displayed Voinovich’s picture with the caption “Senator, Governor, Mayor.”