Ceremony honors successful alumni in downtown Kent

Marisa Stephens, a senior managerial marketing major, accepts the “Golden Flash” award during the Alumni Awards ceremony on Friday, Oct. 13, 2017. Stephens won the only student award this year and was later crowned as Homecoming Queen.

Logan Lutton

The fourth annual Alumni Awards honored six alumni and one current student at a ceremony in Franklin Hotel Bar Friday.

Recipients from across the country were recognized for their achievements in their careers and for their work in their communities. 

The event treated winners and their guests to dinner and cocktails. Afterward, a video presentation was shown that included interviews from the winners.

The seven honorees were chosen from a group of 160 applicants. There are six categories nominees may fall into, including the Distinguished Citizen Award and the Professional Achievement Award. Individuals are typically nominated by someone they know.

Meg May, the president-elect of the Kent State University Alumni Association National Board of Directors, was one of the 18 board members who chose the winners.

“I think it’s wonderful that so many of the award recipients make it a point to come to the event so that we can recognize them in person for the contributions they have made to the university,” May said. “It’s really cool to see what everyone is doing after they get their education here and get out into the world and use it.”

Elizabeth Bartz was the winner of the Kent State Advocacy Award. She attended the ceremony wearing a jacket she purchased from the KSU Fashion School Store. 

Since graduating in 1980, she has gone on to become the founder, president and CEO of State and Federal Communications Inc., an Akron-area company dedicated to lobbying compliance law.

“I lived in Washington D.C. for 12 years, but one of the reasons I wanted to come back to Northeast Ohio was to deepen my relationship with Kent State University,” Bartz said. “It meant a lot to me when I went here.”

She remains involved on campus through the Elizabeth Z. Bartz Scholarship, which benefits seniors at Howland High School who plan to attend Kent State.

Bartz is also involved with the Promising Scholar Program, a scholarship opportunity for incoming freshmen in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.  

“Bev Warren says ‘students first,’ and I am all about meeting that goal so that students who graduate from Kent State can take that opportunity and not worry about having to pay back that debt,” Bartz said.

Cara Gilgenbach, the faculty representative for the National Board of Directors, was also in attendance. She worked alongside May to select the recipients.

“This event always makes me really proud to be affiliated with Kent State,” Gilgenbach said. “It’s kind of a feel-good event because you get to recognize not only the people who win the awards, but the all the people attending the event that are Kent State alums. I think it’s a great way to kick off homecoming weekend.” 

Logan Lutton is the science and alumni reporter. Contact her at [email protected]