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Alumni Awards 2021

The College of Education and Human Ecology at The Ohio State University is proud to present the 2021 Hall of Fame and Alumni Award recipients chosen by the EHE Alumni Society.

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Hall of Fame

James J. Buffer Jr.

Professor Emeritus of Technology Education (posthumous)

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Jim Buffer had an illustrious career at four universities, serving longest at Ohio State for 22 years starting in 1967. Always innovative, he developed several graduate degree programs, including a neurosciences program and research lab that involved faculty in medicine, engineering and education. They pioneered the study of brain development to understand how we learn.

In the College of Education, Buffer developed the Office for Research and Development Services, with an outreach program to provide training and development services to the private sector. They worked with major manufacturing corporations, universities, and banking, financial and sales operations throughout the United States, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Indonesia.

These relationships allowed him to involve graduate students in outreach and research endeavors as well as provided the opportunity for him to travel internationally to work with clients. His expertise, recognized worldwide, resulted in his serving on the boards of banks and corporations and lecturing at universities globally.

A key project was Buffer’s creation of an Industrial Arts Curriculum funded by $2 million from the government, business, labor unions and more. The curriculum introduced middle school students to the world of construction and manufacturing by teaching the processes of large-scale construction and mass production industries. The four-year evaluation involved 20,000 students and their teachers in 13 states.

He and colleagues published the curriculum commercially and managed workshops at 45 institutions to prepare teachers to use the system. The curriculum guided the revision of the college’s technology teacher education program, and other universities followed suit.

Buffer also served as president of the Council for Technology Teacher Education and the National Council for Industrial and Technology Teacher Education. Thanks to him and other faculty, his program at Ohio State was ranked No. 1 nationwide for many years by U.S. News and World Report.

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Mac Stewart

'73 PhD, Education: Special Services

By the time he had completed his PhD, Mac Stewart had made such a strong impression at Ohio State, he was named a residence hall director. He next became dean of University College, an entity dedicated to bringing educationally vulnerable students in need of remedial coursework up to speed.

In 2001, what is now the Office of Diversity and Inclusion tapped Stewart as interim vice provost, then named him vice provost for minority affairs. He quickly moved to secure more scholarship opportunities for students of color studying abroad, which is still one of the hallmarks of the office.

Stewart also was a key administrator in creating the Bell National Resource Center on the African American Male, viewed as the premiere center of its kind by K-12 and postsecondary leaders. During the same time, he created the World Service Program, education abroad that helped hundreds of Buckeyes learn by experiencing other cultures.

Stewart freely gave his time to professional organizations and leading journals. For decades, he was engaged with the nationally recognized, peer-reviewed journal Negro Educational Review. He served at various times as editorial board member, editor-in-chief and president.

He also was a founding member and board member for the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education and a vice chair of the board of trustees for the International Foundation for Education and Self-Help.

Throughout his career, Stewart gave special attention to historically, underrepresented, minority students, serving as a friend, mentor, and informal counselor for countless students of color. He devoted his professional life to improving the delivery of educational services for students of color and the socioeconomically disadvantaged in postsecondary institutions.

“Dr. Mac A. Steward is one of the living giants of diversity, equity and inclusion work at The Ohio State University,” wrote his nominator. “He was a man ahead of his time, as the programs and initiatives he championed to bring greater diversity, equity and inclusion to Ohio State now represent some of the cornerstone initiatives of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.”

Long before it was fashionable, Stewart recognized that inclusion has merit, and diversity brings us strength.

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William Pickard

'71 PhD, Education

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William Pickard has widely influenced a range of fields with his well-rounded education, innovative business ventures and a deeply ingrained belief in helping the less fortunate. With a career that spans more than 60 years and reflects success on many levels, he pays forward by supporting young entrepreneurs though career and internship opportunities.

“I’m a visionary who believes in the potential of anyone with a positive attitude and a great idea,” he wrote in his bestseller book, Millionaire Moves: Seven Proven Principles of Entrepreneurship.

After earning his PhD in education from Ohio State, Pickard began his major investments with ownership of a McDonald’s restaurant, making him one of the first Black McDonald’s owners in the country. He parlayed that success into an array of prosperous companies, including co-ownership of a handful of Black newspapers and a co-partnership role in the MGM Grand Casino in Detroit.

He served on numerous boards of directors for organizations such as the Greater Detroit Chamber of Commerce and the National Urban League.

The crown jewel of Pickard’s business success is Global Automotive Alliance, his highly profitable company that has employed more than 3,000 people in the U.S and Canada and was listed in Black Enterprise’s Top 100 List of industrial/service companies. The company made automotive history as the first minority-owned group to supply top-tier plastic parts to the top three American automakers.

Pickard’s legendary career and innovative achievements have been recognized nationally by two U.S. presidents. He was named the first chairman of the African Development Foundation by President Ronald Reagan in 1982, and he was appointed to the National Advisory Committee on Trade Policy Negotiation by President George Bush in 1990. A year later, Bush assigned Pickard to a seat on the Federal Home Loan Bank Board - Indianapolis Bank.

A belief in people over profits has inspired Pickard and guided his achievements as a businessman and trusted mentor. He has supported legions of organizations, including giving to higher education and historical and cultural institutions.

At Ohio State, his generous contributions produced the Dr. William F. Pickard Scholars Program, supported the Anthony Todd Bell National Resource Center on the African American Male and more.

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Career Achievement

J. Jackson Barnette

’68 MA Higher Education Administration, ’72 PhD Educational Research, Development and Evaluation

J. Jackson Barnette has had a prolific career, publishing more than 100 research articles, serving in faculty and administrative roles at 10 major universities over 50 years and teaching in four countries. He currently is a professor of bioinformatics and biostatistics and associate dean of Academic Affairs in the School of Public Health and Information Sciences, University of Louisville.

Barnette found a unique fit for his expertise within the field of medicine. In addition to teaching biostatistics, he has taught preventative and behavioral medicine, community and public health and more. He offers outstanding support to students, having chaired or been a member of nearly 200 doctoral committees and 45 master’s committees.

After serving as a fellow in the Academic Leadership Program of the Big Ten Academic Alliance, Barnette began holding senior administrator positions. He also led 11 program accreditation teams and was a member of four more. He has served as the evaluator for many research grants and as trainer for faculty and practitioners.

His many awards include the President’s Prize from the American Evaluation Association and induction into the Association of Schools of Public Health (ASPH)/Pfizer Public Health Academy of Distinguished Teachers.

In 2006, he was invited by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to the Launch of the Public Health Foundation in India, which created five new schools of public health. Most recently, he was a member of the American Public Health Association Delegation to Cuba.

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Laura Lukes

'05 MEd, Mathematics, Science and Technology Education

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Laura Lukes, affiliate assistant professor and assistant director at the Stearns Center for Teaching and Learning, George Mason University, surpasses the standards of a devoted educator. She began as a high school teacher in Arizona specializing in earth and space science.

With a grant, she established the Saguaro Rock and Mineral Museum for her students and integrated it into the curriculum. At the same time, she taught geology at two local community colleges.

After five years as a celebrated teacher, Lukes was selected as an Albert Einstein Distinguished Fellow, serving in the Office of Polar Programs, National Science Foundation. She then was appointed director of the foundation’s Joint Science Education Program, leading a research-focused trip to Greenland and creating partnerships with international institutions and government agencies.

Lukes next earned a PhD in geoscience education at North Carolina State University in only three years. At the same time, she taught at the university, continued to instruct online courses at an Arizona community college and chaired the Geological Society of America’s Education Committee.

Lukes has received numerous awards for her research and teaching. She is an Elected Fellow of the Geological Society of America and received the society’s 1917 Biggs Award for Excellence in Earth Science Teaching.

Today, she continues as a reflective practitioner who designs her own curriculum, integrates assessment to gain feedback and redesigns her teaching to benefit students. She is a champion for education, which includes leading the formation of the multi-institutional Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Collaboratory.

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Hans van der Mars

'84 PhD, Physical Education Teacher Education

A professor at Arizona State University, Hans van der Mars is a leading expert in sport pedagogy and physical education teacher education. With more than 100 co-authored, refereed publications, 300 plus professional presentations and significant textbooks, he is known for adeptly combining theory and practice, thereby making research usable by practitioners.

One nominator wrote, “I find it impressive that Dr. van der Mars … produced such quantity and quality of research while simultaneously serving as a (Journal of Teaching in Physical Education) co-editor and directing programs at two major universities.” Van der Mars has launched many graduate students’ careers, and his significant research funding has advanced the profession.

Van der Mars is a champion for increasing physical activity for young children. He has testified often before state legislative committees in Arizona and Oregon, when he was faculty with Oregon State University, to promote this subject.

His work led to his 2011-2014 service on the President’s Council on Fitness, Sport and Nutrition Science Board. Since 2016, he also has been a member of the Standing Committee - Education Sector of the National Physical Activity Plan created by the Physical Activity Plan Alliance.

Van der Mars’ outstanding record of excellence for three decade has seen him inducted as a fellow by multiple associations, including the National Academy of Kinesiology and the National Association for Kinesiology in Higher Education. In 2018, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame of the Society for Health and Physical Education (SHAPE) America.

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Christopher L. Washington

'02 PhD, Human Resource Development

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Christopher Washington is provost and executive vice president of Franklin University, where he began as faculty in 1999. He has dedicated his career to helping higher education institutions expand their resources and global partnerships, with emphasis on new technology and initiatives that position them as leaders in driving change.

As chief academic officer at Franklin, he has expanded enrollment by focusing on opportunities for nontraditional students who complete degrees or earn advanced degrees. He also increased the number of academic programs, including authorizing four new doctoral degrees that changed the institution’s status with its accrediting body, the Higher Learning Commission.

Washington emphasizes global literacy in the curriculum at Franklin and ensures the campus reflects a positive disposition toward global difference. He supports internationalization through Franklin’s partnerships with universities in Europe, Central America, the Middle East and Asia. He was selected for the Fulbright Specialist Roster and currently is a Fulbright Application Reviewer.

Washington has served in multiple leadership roles. He was a consultant evaluator for the Higher Learning Commission, contributes to Ohio Department of Higher Education committees and has been a leadership facilitator for the Chief Academic Officers Leadership Program of the American Council on Education.

Washington currently is National Board Chair of Global Ties U.S. and has sat on numerous local boards, such as the International Visitors Council. Frequently called upon for interviews by the media, he is a member of the U.S. Speakers Bureau sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and of the Forbes Nonprofit Council.

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Meritorious Service

Donna Ball

'77 BS, Elementary Education

Donna Ball is an experienced education administrator who has dedicated 43 years and counting to the field. Her positive attitude and strong belief in challenging students to be their best has impacted thousands of students and hundreds of educators during the course of her career. She retired as a principal in 2012 from Marysville Exempted Village Schools, having begun as a teacher with Westfall (Ohio) Local Schools.

Since then, she was been a project manager for the Ohio Instructional Leadership Academy, a part of the Ohio Association of Elementary School Administrators that offers principals and teacher leaders leadership skills training to support student achievement. She is also an adjunct professor with Concordia University, Chicago, in their master’s in administrative licensure program.

Today, while continuing to teach with Concordia, she is supervisor of student teachers for the college, sharing her vast experience with future early childhood educators.

In addition to her work directly within the profession, Ball volunteers regularly for Ohio State to support events and enhance opportunities for the college’s students. She served for a decade on the college’s Alumni Society Board of Governors, including a term as president. She has been the college’s representative to the Alumni Association, where she served on the committee to select faculty for the Distinguished Teaching Award.

Ball has received numerous awards and honors throughout her career. In 2021, she received the D. Richard Murray Award from the Ohio Association of Elementary School Administrators. It honors an educator for outstanding service to benefit administrators and the children they serve.

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New Leader

Desiree Vega

'08 MA, '11 PhD, School Psychology

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Early in her career, Desireé Vega began carving a niche for herself as an expert in the field of bilingual school psychology. Now an associate professor of school psychology at the University of Arizona, she focuses on articulating ways to bolster the resiliency of students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds in order to advance their academic outcomes.

While at her prior faculty position at Texas State University, Vega was co-principal investigator on a $1.03 million U.S. Department of Education grant to develop a bilingual specialization training program. The project addressed the shortage of bilingual school psychologists by supporting the preparation of 24 students in this specialty area. She currently consults on a $1.3 million grant project focused on keeping interdisciplinary teams evolving.

Vega has received multiple awards, including being inducted as a faculty fellow into the American Association of Hispanic Higher Education and being recognized as an Early Career Scholar by the Society for the Study of School Psychology.

Her work is published in some of the highest impact school psychology journals, and she is the associate editor of the Journal of School Psychology.

At the community level, Vega is engaged in immigration advocacy. For instance, she has volunteered with the organization Keep Tucson Together, where she assisted people preparing asylum applications. She also has worked with the Immigrant Student Resource Center on campus and with clinics renewing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals applications.