Distinguished Alumni 

Since 1980 the College of Business Administration and Graduate Programs Office  has honored an alumnus(a) as the Distinguished Alumnus(a) of the Year. The individual chosen for this honor is recognized each year at the Annual Spring Dinner and Awards Ceremony sponsored by the Business Administration Alumni Council. Individuals chosen for this award are Alumni from the College who have shown their support to the college and university in a variety of ways. Some of our past recipients have been outstanding community leaders, company presidents, philanthropists, mentors, and scholarship donors. The following abbreviated biographies illustrate the high caliber of Alumni from the College of Business Administration and the Graduate Programs Office.

Past Distinguished Alumni of the Year Award

2007 Barry E. Fetterman
2006 Robert Obee
2005 Joseph Grunewald
2004 David K. Creamer
2003 Stuart Neidus
2002 Michael D. Solomon
2001 Lynne S. Dragomier
2000 Michael R. Kennedy
1999 Rod Dammeyer
1998 David McCauley
1997 Julia Curry Montgomery Walsh
1996 R. B. "Yank" Heisler Jr.
1995 R. Douglas Cowan
1994 Lawrence F. Ahern
1993 Kenneth E. Wertz
1992 Harold R. Jenkins
1991 Robert C. Weber
1990 Charles V. Batton
1989 Vincent A Chiarucci
1988 Kenneth Nieman
1987 Charles J. Pilliod Jr.
1986 Judith A. Jones
1985 Newton D. Becker
1984 Leigh E. Herington
1983 Norbert Lewandowski
1981 Roger K. Derr
1980 Peter G. Kost

Barry E. Fetterman

Distinguished Alumnus Award: 2007

Barry E. Fetterman retired from Sirach Capital Management, an institutional money manager, in June of 2003 after serving as a Principal and Portfolio Manager of the firm since 1990.  He was also a member of the firm’s Board of Directors.

Barry’s career included a wide range of experiences in the finance industry.  He was one of four original partners in an investment banking firm that specialized in providing banking services to the investment management industry.  As a Vice President with SEI Corporation, a leading financial services firm, he held a number of management positions during his ten years with the firm.  He served as the Director of the Western Region responsible for the firm’s Financial Services and Information Systems Divisions.   He additionally served as a consultant to many of the largest money managers in the Western United States.  Barry began his career with IBM in Cleveland, working in the Data Processing Division.

Barry met his wife, Jo Ann, while both were attending Kent State University, and he was a member of and two year Co-Captain of the Varsity Soccer Team.  Barry served on Kent State’s Centennial Commission, and has been on the Board of the Kent State University Foundation since 2000 where he currently chairs the Investment Committee.  He also volunteers as a member of the Board of Directors of the Bainbridge Island Land Trust.

Barry has an MBA (1976) and a BBA (1974) from Kent State.  He was elected to the Beta Gamma Sigma business honorary.

Robert W. Obee

Distinguished Alumnus Award: 2006

Robert W. Obee is a three-time summa cum laude graduate from Kent State with Undergraduate, Masters and Doctoral degrees in Business Administration.

He is currently Senior Vice President of Operations Planning and Strategy at YRC Regional Transportation where he leads strategic change initiatives across the YRC Regional Transportation operating companies which include New Penn, USF Bestway, USF GlenMoore, USF Holland and USF Reddaway.

Mr. Obee joined Roadway Express in 1983 as Manager of Operations Research. He held positions as Director, Industrial Engineering and Vice President, Operations Planning and Engineering. In 1999 Robert became Roadway’s first Chief Information Officer and in 2003 added corporate and strategic planning responsibilities as its CIO and VP of New Venture Commerce. He served as Chief Technology Integration Officer for YRC Enterprise Services prior to his promotion to Senior Vice President of Operations and Planning.

Mr. Obee led the Roadway teams working with Yellow counterparts planning synergy initiatives during the transition period after Yellow Corporation announced plans to acquire Roadway Corporation. Robert then led one of the largest of those initiatives, integrating the Yellow and Roadway information technology functions. The success of this initiative was recognized by CIO Magazine in the August 2005 issue.

He is an active member of civic, business and not-for-profit organizations. He and his wife Janine live in Akron. They have two children Courtney and Perry.

Joseph P. Grunenwald '75, '81

Distinguished Alumnus Award: 2005

Dr. Joseph P. Grunenwald earned his Master of Business Administration and his Doctorate of Business Administration in Marketing from Kent State. He earned his Bachelor of Engineering from Youngstown State University.

Joe is currently the President of Clarion University of Pennsylvania. Prior to becoming President, he held the positions of Director of Continuing Education, Interim Executive Dean of Vanango Campus, Department Chair and Professor of Marketing, Dean of the College of Business, and Provost and Academic Vice President at Clarion.

Joe currently serves on the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education’s Executive Council of the Chancellor, Academy for the Profession of Teaching Executive Committee, the Commission for the Universities and the SyTech Board. He is also on the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference. He is a member of the Pennsylvania Association of Colleges and University.

Locally in Clarion he is a member of the Clarion County Industrial Authority, President of the Board of Directors of the Clarion County Economic Development Corporation, and Member of the Board of Directors of the Clarion county Chamber of Business and Industry — just to name a few.

He has received numerous Honors and Awards including the “Citizen of the Year” award from the Clarion Area Chamber of Commerce.

David K. Creamer '86, '90

Distinguished Alumnus Award: 2004

After receiving his B.B.A. in Accounting from Ohio University, Dr. Creamer worked as the Senior Auditor for the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare in Columbus. In 1982 he became the Director of Internal Audit at Kent State. During this time he earned a Master of Science degree in Accounting at Kent. He then became the Comptroller for Kent State where he continued his education and earned his Ph.D. in higher education administration in 1990. He left Kent State to become the Comptroller and University Secretary for Iowa State University. Dr. Creamer left Iowa for Shawnee State University and then moved on to the University of Alaska. He returned to Kent State in 1998. He currently serves Kent State as Vice President for Administration, overseeing a budget in excess of $400 million for the University’s eight campuses. He has served on Ohio’s Higher Education Funding Commission and the Graduate Funding Commission. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Better Business Bureau and NEO Beam, Inc. Dr. Creamer also is a Portage County Commissioners’ representative to the Regional Council of the Northeastern Ohio Trade and Economic Consortium (NEOTEC). He served as past chair for the Inter-University Council Business and Finance Officers. He and his wife, Debbie, reside in Tallmadge with their two sons.

Stuart D. Neidus '73

Distinguished Alumnus Award: 2003

Stuart D. Neidus currently holds the position of Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Anthony & Sylvan Pools Corporation. He served as Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Essef Corporation from September 1996 to August 1999. From 1992 to 1996, he served with Premier Farnell plc, successor to Premier Industrial Corporation, most recently as Executive Vice President. Mr. Neidus also spent 19 years with the international accounting firm KPMG LLP, including eight years as a partner.

Mr. Neidus earned his BS in Accounting at Kent in 1973, where he served as President of the Beta Alpha Psi chapter. Also, Mr. Neidus recruited at Kent and hired numerous Kent graduates. He was instrumental in establishing the KPMG Accounting Chair at Kent and oversaw its funding for many years. He serves on Kent’s College of Business Advisory Board .

Mr. Neidus currently serves on the boards of several companies and has actively participated in varying capacities with numerous local not-for-profit organizations. He and his wife, Sally who has both undergraduate and master degrees from Kent, reside in Gates Mills, Ohio, with their three daughters. Their high respect for the value of Kent’s educational programs has been passed along as one of their daughters is currently a sophomore in the School of Fashion Design.

Michael D. Solomon '74

Distinguished Alumnus Award: 2002

Michael D. Solomon received his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in Marketing from Kent State in 1974. He Built his career in the information technology industry over the past twenty five years. He ran his own manufacture's representative business in the late 70's and early 80's, working with many companies, including Apple Computer, and setting up their distribution in Ohio and surrounding states. He helped to create the desktop publishing industry in the late 80's while serving as vice president of sales and marketing at Aldus Corporation, the publishers of PageMaker software in Seattle. He was CEO of Lightsource, an innovative graphics software company in the early 90's, and has since worked as an independent investor/advisor and as a venture capitalist with Mohr Davidow Ventures in Menlo Park, California. He worked with or started many companies through the developmental years of the Internet, including companies acquired by Netscape, Microsoft, eTrade, CMGI, and Direct TV. Michael currently works on his own as an advisor and investor with early stage software companies. Through his leadership and commitment, the Michael D. Solomon Entrepreneurship Speaker Series in the College of Business was established.

Lynne S. Dragomier

Distinguished Alumnus Award: 2001

Lynne S. Dragomier received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from Kent State in 1972. She continued her education by taking classes toward her Masters at Walsh University and by taking numerous leadership seminars. For nearly two decades she has worked for The Hoover Company in increasingly responsible positions. In 1994 she was named Vice President of Administration, becoming Hoover's first female vice president.

Active in civic affairs, Lynne serves as a Board of Trustees member for Maytag Corporation Foundation, Kent State, Stark Community Foundation, Ohio Foundation of Independent Colleges, and Mercy Medical Center. She was elected to the Canton YWCA Stark County Alumni Assoc., North Canton Talk About Potential, Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce and the United Way Vision Council Steering Committee.

Lynne has been involved in the establishment of the future Frank Vaughn - Hoover Corporation Executives Electronic Classroom. She also played a role in the new conference center which was opened during the past year at the Stark Campus.

Lynne resides in North Canton, Ohio with her husband Michael '72, '94 and two sons, Michael and Matthew.

Michael R. Kennedy

Distinguished Alumnus Award: 2000

Mike Kennedy, President and CEO of MRK Technologies, Ltd., is a 1965 graduate of the Kent State College of Business Administration.

Upon graduating from Kent, Mike began his business career with the Burroughs Corporation (now Unisys). He started as a sales associate and after two years became the sales manager in Cleveland.

In 1972 Kennedy co-founded L.D.I. Corporation, a computer distributor and leasing company. The company grew to $75 million in sales by 1987 when it went public (listed on the NASDAQ). Under Mike's leadership as president and CEO, L.D.I. increased sales to $350 million by 1994 when Nations Bank acquired the company.

Prior to the sale of L.D.I., Mike led a management revision of a division of the company, forming MRK Technologies, Ltd. MRK Technologies provides e-commerce and enterprise resource planning solutions to companies by integrating multi-vendor computer products, systems, and leasing solutions.

Mike is very committed to community activities and public service. He has served on the Board of Trustees of Health Cleveland (Fairview Hospital), the Board of Trustees of the Epilepsy Foundation of Northeast Ohio, and the endowment committee of Malachi House. He is also a board member of three for-profit companies. Mike is a graduate of Leadership Cleveland.

Mike continues to give back to his alma mater. He served on the Technologies Task Force of the Kent State Centennial Commission, and is the Chair of the Business Advisory Council for the College of Business Administration. Under Mike's leadership the Council has risen to new heights in membership, involvement and guidance.

Mike, his wife Diane, also a 1965 College of Business graduate, and sons Matt and Sean reside in Rocky River, Ohio.

Rod Dammeyer

Distinguished Alumnus Award: 1999

Mr. Dammeyer is President of C.A.C. llc, a private company offering capital investment and management advisory services. Mr. Dammeyer retired as Managing Partner of Equity Group Corporate Investments, a diversified management and investment firm, in June 2000, having served in that position since February 1998. Mr. Dammeyer retired as Vice-Chairman of Anixter International, Inc., a global distributor of wiring systems and networking products, in December 2000, having previously served as its Chief Executive Officer from January 1993 to February 1998 and its President from October 1985 to February 1998. Mr. Dammeyer is also a director of Antec Corporation, Stericycle, Inc. and TeleTech Holdings, Inc. He is also a trustee of Van Kampen Closed-End Funds.

Rod is a past president of the Kent State Alumni Association, past foundation board member, and is currently a member of the KSU Campaign Steering Committee.

Mr. Dammeyer has been listed in Forbes' America's Most Powerful People.

David McCauley

Distinguished Alumnus Award: 1998

In 1983, David W. McCauley and his partner, Dennis Grady, purchased the Dice Decal Corp., a Stark County firm that specialized in screen printing. Dave had been general manager of the company since 1974. The partners changed the name to Grady McCauley, Inc. and expanded the design and production of fleet identification decals were broadened to include retail graphics and imaging.

Grady McCauleyís venture into retail graphics and world class, digital-imaging technology has enabled the company to move from its 1983 sales of $2 million to sales of eight times that amount in 1996. Customers include Office Max, Camelot Music, K-Mart, Dunkin' Donuts, BP, Goodyear, and many others. David McCauley is the company's President and Chief Operating Officer. In early 1997, Dave completed a new, 120,000-square-foot-facility for his company and its 165 employees.

Dave is a member of the Business Advisory Council of the College of Business Administration at Kent State. Also, he was recently appointed to the University's Centennial Commission; he serves as a member of the Task Force on Student Recruitment and Retention. Dave and his wife, Nancy, live in Hartville, Ohio, with their four children.

Julia Curry Montgomery Walsh

Distinguished Alumnus Award: 1997

Julia Curry Montgomery Walsh (magna cum laude, B.S. Business Administration) was the first woman in Kent's history to serve as student body president. When attending the National Conference of Student Body Presidents in Washington, she had the opportunity to meet then "First Lady" Eleanor Roosevelt, who remains her lifetime mentor and was the first of many "first ladies" to know Walsh, one of the country's most influential female investment brokers and financiers.

Other pioneering accomplishments of the Akron native include being the first woman to serve on the Board of Governors of the American Stock Exchange, being accepted by the Advanced Management Program of the Harvard University Business School, and chairing a standing committee of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. These and other successes are chronicled in her biography "Risks and Rewards: A Memoir."

Mr. R. B. "Yank" Heisler, Jr. '74

Distinguished Alumnus Award: 1996

R. B. "Yank" Heisler Jr. serves as President and Chief Executive Officer of Society National Bank, Keycorp's flagship bank in Ohio. Heisler graduated cum laude in 1970 with a B.A. in biochemistry from Harvard University and earned his MBA from Kent in 1974. At Kent, he was inducted into Beta Gamma Sigma, an honorary business fraternity for academic excellence. Heisler is a resident of Shaker Heights.

October 1, 2011 Yank Heisler retired from his position of Dean of the College of Business.  See photos of his farewell celebration.

Mr. R. Douglas Cowan

Distinguished Alumnus Award: 1995

R. Douglas Cowan is President and Chief Executive Officer of The Davey Tree Expert Company. He joined Davey in 1974 as Corporate Controller and was promoted to successive positions and responsibility: Vice President of Finance in 1979; Executive Vice President in 1984; President and Chief Operating Officer in 1985; and Chief Executive Officer in 1988. Mr. Cowan has been a member of Davey's Board of Directors since 1982.

He is Chairman-Elect of the Executive Council of the Conference Board, and a member of the National Arborists Association and International Society of Arboriculture. He is also active in a variety of local organizations, serving as Chairman of the Kent State University Foundation and a member of the Akron Regional Development Board.

Today the Davey Company is one of the country's largest and most successful employee-owned companies. Mr. Cowan is a passionate advocate of employee ownership.

He is a graduate of Kent State with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration.

Mr. Lawrence "Larry" F. Ahern '63

Distinguished Alumnus Award: 1994

The Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award for 1994 was given posthumously to Mr. Lawrence "Larry" F. Ahern. Mr. Ahern, who died suddenly in October 1993, was a prominent Cleveland businessman. Accepting the award was Mr. Ahern's wife, Mrs. Carol Ahern, and his brother, Mr. Thomas Ahern. Council president, Mr. Randy Kline, presented them with a plaque in remembrance of Mr. Ahern's many contributions to Kent State.

Mr. Ahern devoted much of his energy and enthusiasm to volunteering for his alma mater. He was an active member of the Business Administration Alumni Council (BAAC) and was avid behind the Networking Programs that the Council initiated in 1992. He was also an enthusiastic supporter of the Kent Alumni Association, serving as Guest Auctioneer for the Spring for Scholars Auction in the Spring of 1992.

He worked for the Cleveland-based financial planning and insurance firm, Ohio Financial Group, Inc., for about 25 years, and became president of the company in 1986. He was a former president of the Chapter Life Underwriters in Akron, the General Agents and Managers Association in Cleveland and Akron, and the Field Advisory Committee of Mutual Benefit Life. Mr. Ahern also served on numerous boards including: Philpott Rubber of Cleveland, Ramwear Inc. of Mentor, and the Shorby Club of Bratenahl.

Mr. Kenneth E. Wertz '52 '68

Distinguished Alumnus Award: 1993

The Distinguished Alumnus Award for 1993 was presented to Mr. Kenneth E. Wertz, BBA in Management Science 1952 and MBA 1968. Mr. Wertz was chosen for this award for his outstanding contributions to the College of Business Administration and Graduate School of Management, Kent State and the community. Mr. Wertz began working for Colonial Machine Company part-time as an undergraduate student, and worked there for forty-three years. He held the office of President for thirty-one years, and retired in January 1993.

Keeping the Kent State tradition alive in the family, Nancy A. (Barton) Wertz, holds both a B.S. and an M.Ed. in Education from Kent State. The Wertz's son, Eric E. Wertz, worked on his Master's Degree in the KSU School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

In his service and philanthropy to the University, Mr. Wertz served as an Associate Director of the Kent State University Foundation from 1980-1994, has been a member of the Dean's Council for the College of Business Administration and the Graduate School of Management since 1987, and the Presidents Club since 1990. He and his wife hold joint annual membership in the Kent State University Alumni Association. Mr. Wertz is also a patron of the Glauser School of Music Spring Pops Concert. The Ken and Nancy Wertz Scholarship Fund was initiated in 1992 through the Founders Scholarship Program. It is awarded annually to students interested in pursuing a degree in the College of Business Administration.

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