Alumni Hall of Fame Awards

Hall of Fame and Alumni Awards

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Each year, the College of Education and Human Ecology, in collaboration with the college’s Alumni Society Board of Governors, honors alumni who have made outstanding contributions in their chosen fields, exemplifying the college’s legacy of service and excellence. The nomination period is June through August each year and winners are celebrated in an annual event that takes place during Homecoming Weekend.

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2023 Winners

Hall of Fame Award

Induction into EHE’s Hall of Fame is the highest honor bestowed by the college and alumni society. Those who are chosen for this award must have made significant contributions to education and human ecology and serve as a role model for all others in their fields. Hall of Fame inductees have distinguished themselves nationally or internationally by making a positive contribution to society and bringing extraordinary credit to the college and to The Ohio State University. They must be former college faculty members, administrators, or graduates from an education or human ecology program.


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Linda C. Tillman
’73 BS, ’95 PhD, Education

Linda C. Tillman is professor emerita of Educational Leadership, School of Education, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has also held faculty positions at the University of New Orleans and Wayne State University, and recently completed a two-year visiting distinguished professorship at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, CA.

A former public-school educator with teaching and administrative experience, Tillman is a nationally recognized scholar and leader in higher education. Her research and scholarship are focused in three primary areas:  school leadership, the education of all children, particularly African Americans in K-12 education, and culturally sensitive research approaches.  

Her work has been featured in top-tier educational leadership and education publications, including Educational Administration Quarterly, Journal of School Leadership, Educational Researcher, Review of Educational Research and the International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education.

She served as editor in chief of the first of its kind SAGE Handbook of African American education, co-editor of the Handbook of Research on Educational Leadership for Diversity and Equity with J.J. Scheurich and of Identities and the Educational leadership of Black women in the USA with S.D. Horsford.

Tillman’s Culturally Sensitive Research Approaches Framework has been cited and used across disciplines, including in educational leadership and teacher education, and in medical/health care research including research on diabetes in African Americans by researchers at the University of California-San Francisco, and research on pregnancy and childbearing among young African American women by researchers at the University of Minnesota.

In 2004, she was recognized for her research and scholarship when she received the Early Career Contribution Award from the Committee on Scholars of Color in Education of the American Educational Research Association.

Tillman has served in numerous leadership positions in the American Educational Research Association, including vice president of Division A (Administration, Organization and Leadership) and chair of the AERA Publications Committee. She currently serves as co-chair of the AERA 2024 Annual Meeting Program Committee.

She has served as associate director for Graduate Student Development and director of the Barbara L. Jackson Scholars for the University Council for Educational Administration. As a nationally recognized mentor who has advised numerous doctoral students and junior faculty, Tillman received the Jay D. Scribner Mentoring Award from the council in 2009. In 2021, the council established the Linda C. Tillman Social and Racial Justice Award in her honor, and she was its inaugural recipient.

Tillman serves as an educational consultant and conducts program evaluation for state departments of education, colleges of education and research organizations. She also serves as chair of the Advisory Committee for the Black Education Research Center at Teachers College  ̶  Columbia University and is a member of the HistoryMakers Education Committee. She earned her MS degree from the University of Dayton.

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Career Achievement Award

The Career Achievement award honors alumni who have made outstanding contributions to their professions and a difference in the lives of others. The emphasis of this award is on teaching, mentoring, and sharing their skills and talents with others in their profession.


Mark Anthony Gooden
’94 MEd Mathematics Education
’01 MS, PhD Education Policy and Leadership

Mark Gooden is the Christian Johnson Endeavor Professor in Education Leadership at Teachers College  ̶  Columbia University. His research focuses broadly on culturally responsive school leadership with specific interests in the principalship, anti-racist leadership, urban educational leadership and legal issues in education. He is past president of the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA), a consortium of over 100 higher education institutions committed to advancing the preparation and practice of educational leaders for the benefit of schools and children.

In 2017, Gooden received the UCEA Jay D. Scribner Mentoring Award, and in 2021, he was the recipient of the UCEA Master Professor Award for distinguished service in teaching, curriculum development and student mentoring.

Gooden is co-author of Five Practices for Equity-Focused School Leadership. His research has appeared in a range of outlets including the American Educational Research Journal, Educational Administration Quarterly, Teachers College Record, The Journal of Negro Education and Urban Education, Review of Educational Research, Educational Leadership and Education Week.

Before entering higher education, Gooden served as a secondary mathematics teacher and departmental chairperson in Columbus City Schools. He transitioned into higher education as an assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati, where he also directed several leadership programs for seven years. He went on to rise to the role of the Margie Gurley Seay Centennial Professor of Education at The University of Texas  ̶  Austin. While there, he served as director of the principalship program for nearly nine years.

Gooden has spent over two decades in higher education, developing and teaching courses in culturally responsive leadership, race, law and research methods. He has consulted with school districts, universities and nonprofit organizations by designing and delivering professional development courses/workshops in anti-racist leadership, law and community building. He earned his BA in mathematics from Albany State University, a Historically Black College/University.

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Hatice Zeynep Inan
’03 MA, ’07 PhD, Education

Hatice Zeynep Inan graduated from Ohio State specializing in early childhood education. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in guidance and psychological counseling from Bogazici University. She achieved full professorship at Bursa Uludag University in Turkey and is currently employed at Texas A&M University  ̶  San Antonio.

Inan is a highly experienced leader, researcher, mentor, counselor and supervisor. She teaches graduate, undergraduate and in-service educators while actively serving on scholarly national and international committees and boards, including the Turkish National Center of Science and Technology Center (TUBITAK), the Kazakhstan National Center of Science and Technology Evaluation (NCSTE) and the European Health and Digital Executive Agency (HaDEA).

With over two decades of teaching experience, Inan has worked with students of all ages, from pre-kindergarten to doctoral students, and has provided professional development for in-service educators and directors. She has held various academic and leadership positions at multiple universities, ranging from vice dean of the College of Education to program coordinator of early childhood education.

Inan's expertise encompasses early childhood development and contemporary education approaches, models and programs, as well as high-quality early childhood education. Her contributions have facilitated the transformation of numerous schools to encompass contemporary education philosophies. Furthermore, she is proficient in both quantitative and qualitative research methods.

She has published 67 peer-reviewed articles, books andchapters. Notably, five of her publications were derived from theses she supervised, and one received the "Top 5 Article Teachers Should Read" award from the National Science Teaching Association.

Her dedication to advancing education extends to active participation in national and international professional meetings and involvement in several projects aimed at promoting high-quality education for children at both national and international levels. Inan has authored Turkey's first early childhood education standards. Currently, she is working as a co-principal investigator on the Campus CARES school building project at Texas A&M. Additionally, she conducts research on Head Start programs and The Landscape of Early Learning in San Antonio, funded by the City of San Antonio Workforce Division, for the benefit of children and the larger community.

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Meritorious Service

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Corey O’Brien
’06 MEd Mathematics, Science and Technology

Before earning an MEd at the College of Education and Human Ecology, Corey O’Brien graduated from Ohio State with a BS in Ecology, Evolution and Organismal Biology (2001). He served in the Ohio Army National Guard for nine years, including two deployments to the Middle East — Kuwait in 2003, and he volunteered for Iraq in 2004-2005. His service led to two awards: a Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal and a Combat Action Badge.

O’Brien has been a science teacher at Hamilton Township High School since 2006. Being an educator and a veteran, he has had a unique opportunity to use his experiences and contacts to continue to serve military-connected families. He has served prominently in the Purple Star Schools program, with Hamilton Township High School being the first in the state of Ohio and in the nation to receive the Purple Star School designation.

He became president of the Ohio Association of Purple Stars Schools, was on the MIC3 State Council and Ohio’s Purple Star Advisory Board, all for five years. As president, O’Brien presented to Ohio’s State Board of Education, at multiple Ohio School Board Association conferences and MIC3 ABM’s (Annual Business Meetings). He has also played a crucial role in spreading the Purple Star program around the state and country.

Since 2017, O’Brien has volunteered with the Resurrecting Lives Foundation, which raises awareness about brain health issues that contribute to veteran suicides, such as traumatic brain injury and PTSD. He has given speeches to multiple groups for fundraising events, worked as a consultant and was featured in the PBS Western Reserve Documentary, “Out of Our Brains, Not Out of Our Minds: America’s Veterans - Our Heroes in Uniform.”

He consulted for the foundation’s recent short film “Brainstorms”, which premiered at the Soho International Film Festival and the Cinema Columbus Film Festival at the Gateway Theater, where he was a panelist for the Q and A session afterwards. The film won “Best Narrative Short” and “Best Actor” at the GI Film Festival in San Diego. The foundation provides a platform for him to demonstrate, from his personal experiences, the challenges and needs military-connected families face, and to describe opportunities and resources necessary for healing, recovery, and support.

O’Brien is associated with the David Lynch Foundation and its Transcendental Meditation Program for veterans. He was interviewed by the foundation’s Executive Director Bob Roth on his Sirius XM Radio Show “Success Without Stress” and is featured on Roth’s podcast “Stay Calm with Bob Roth - Meditation for Veterans.” In 2019, O’Brien was an invited panelist for the Brooklyn, NY, Town Hall on the evidence-based “Science of Meditation: Trauma, Health, and The Brain.”

Between O’Brien, his father Terrence and his grandfather Charles, they have 56 years of military service covering four wars. His family has many Ohio State alumni, including his brother Colin and his daughter, Mary Robbins.

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New Leader Award

The New Leader award is granted to alumni who are age 36 or younger and have already made significant professional accomplishments. Recipients of this award show great promise for continuing their contributions to their professions, the college, and society.

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Nick Nocera
’18 BS Hospitality Management

Nick Nocera is a rising star within the business world. His drive, passion and commitment to business and entrepreneurial potential rise to the next level. There is no doubt that Nocera will drive change and innovation in business and be a future leader.

Nocera's career began at his family-owned restaurant chain in operations, which led to working for Pernod Ricard (PRNDY) in sales and marketing, building programs for the organization’s digital transformation and expanding distribution networks working with brands like Absolut Vodka and Jameson Irish Whiskey.

Following Pernod Ricard, Nocera was partner and executive vice president of an environmental safety company. He developed a proprietary, sustainable disinfectant solution. He performed studies with the U.S. Department of Health and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), receiving the highest level of approvals. He then developed an environmental protocol to keep facilities at the highest level of cleanliness.

This led to Nocera managing environmental safety protocols for massive organizations, including The Kraft Group, BioMed Realty, New England Patriots and Blackstone.

Following his success in the environmental space, Nocera invested in a few early-stage companies, including Databuoy Corporation, a world-class solutions platform for public safety and security developed by top engineers and technologists at the United States government’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) for gunshot detection and localization. In addition to investing in a liquor brand, he supported Dezo, the world’s first all-natural fruit and vodka seltzer.

Nocera's most recent venture is XSET, INC. At XSET, he plays a pivotal leadership role as general manager, co-owner and secretary of its Board of Directors. He has been instrumental in building the world’s fastest-growing, most diverse and most innovative gaming lifestyle media brand.

Nocera has applied his knowledge in operations and relationship building to accelerate and scale the XSET brand, including playing a pivotal role in the Series A funding round of $18M from the likes of Ezekiel Elliot, Young Money Music, Quality Control Music, Ozuna, Lil Wayne, BlockTrust and Swae Lee.

He has built and developed a range of strategic partnerships with VaynerSports, Major League Baseball, Breakaway Music Festival, Dunkin Donuts and the recent acquisition of Queens Gaming Collective. Beyond the above impact, his ability to implement structure, process and organization, which he has spearheaded for XSET, has allowed for significant acceleration for the organization.


Royel M. Johnson
’15 PhD Higher Education and Student Affairs

Royel Johnson headshotRoyel M. Johnson is associate professor in the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California. He is also chair of Rossier’s PhD in education program and is director of the National Assessment of Collegiate Campus Climates, which is the nation’s leading tool for accessing campus racial climates.

Johnson is a nationally recognized expert on college access, student success, as well as campus climate and culture change for racial equity in higher education. He is a productive scholar with over 50 publications, including articles in leading journals such as the Journal of Higher Education, Teachers College Record, and Peabody Journal of Education. He has also edited three books: Racial Equity on College Campuses: Connecting Research and Practice, Enacting Student Success: Critical and Alternative Perspectives for Practice and Creating New Possibilities for the Future of HBCUs with Research.

He has garnered more than $5.3 million in grants and contracts from federal, state and private funders. A highly sought after speaker and consultant, Johnson has delivered more than 100 invited talks for college campuses, companies and other organizations.

Johnson is co-editor of Educational Researcher, the flagship journal for the American Educational Research Association (AERA). He currently serves on the editorial boards for the Journal of Higher Education, Review of Higher Education, and Journal of Diversity in Higher Education. For the Association for the Study of Higher Education, he is producer and co-host of their Presidential Podcast Series, which is now in its second season.

In recognition of Johnson’s outstanding early-career achievements, he was awarded the 2020 Distinguished Young Alumni Award from the University of Illinois. He also has received the 2020 Emerging Scholar Award and 2022 Outstanding Contribution to Multicultural Education and Research Award from ACPA — College Educators International; and the 2023 Early Career Award from AERA, Division G.

Johnson is a two-time graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he earned a BA in political science and an EdM in educational policy studies. His PhD in the college’s Higher Education and Student Affairs program was with a cognate in race and social policy.