By Erin Morgenstern
“And the Emmy goes to…and the Oscar goes to…and this year’s Tony Award goes to…” We have all heard this line before, but when you hear it at the Annual Leadership Awards Gala, the recognition holds much more weight than just doing a stellar job in a movie, song or on stage for one year. The students that are recognized at the leadership award gala at Ohio University are recognized for the amazing leadership they have displayed throughout their time on campus and in our communities over and over again.
These leaders, often unsung, are a display of the wonderful work and dedication that OHIO students have on our campus. The fact that someone is even nominated or applies for one of these awards, shows that they are truly dedicated to those they represent and will become our future leaders once they graduate from Ohio University. How exciting it is to think that some of the past and future recipients of these awards could be the next President of the United States, CEO of a Fortune 500 company or the next Bill Gates or Oprah?!? Well, maybe not Oprah. No one can really be the next Oprah. There is only one Oprah.
In celebration of this year’s event, let’s review some of the top 5 fun historical facts about the annual leadership awards and the year 1983:
1. You may recall a time when family vacations took place in a car, traveling long distances, the smell of stale fast food in the backseat and a lot of “are we there yets” being yelled for inappropriate amounts of time. But, what you may not know is that the same year that the leadership awards began at Ohio University in 1983, the first minivan was making it’s way through the assembly lines of small town America. Introducing the Dodge Caravan!
2. The Annual Leadership Awards Gala wasn’t always a lavish with all the pomp and circumstance. In fact, the first time the awards were given on Ohio University’s campus, students and administrators came together for a small reception that took place in the “old Baker Center”, AKA Schoonover Center, to take pictures with cameras that had real film, drink punch and eat the infamous “Ho Ho” Cake provided by the then titled University Dining Services.
3.For many years, the Women’s Issues, Francine Child’s Diversity Leadership, Blackburn-Spencer and Stonewall Awards have been given during the Annual Leadership Awards program. The focus on leadership recognition for minority groups has been prevalent in the leadership awards since it’s establishment in 1983, which was also the year the Space Shuttle Challenger sent Sally Ride and Guion Bluford (the first American woman and first African-American) into space the same year. It’s awesome to see that 1983 brought about change in our nation and at Ohio University for many groups.
4. Best Actor at the Academy Awards in 1983 was given to Ben Kingsley for his role in the cinematic adventure “Gandhi” beating out other leading men, such as Dustin Hoffman, Jack Lemmon, Paul Newman and Peter O’Toole. Do you think if Paul had been more of a leader on campus at Ohio University before being kicked out, he would have been more likely to receive the Oscar this year? I like to think so. Shame, shame, Paul. Well, at least you still have that dressing thing going for you.
5. One of our most dynamic leaders, Dr. Charles J. Ping, was Ohio University’s acting president in 1983. During his 19 years of leadership, he is known to have led OHIO to it’s highest enrollment after a sharp decline in the years preceding his induction, as well as expansion of international education at Ohio University. Since 2010, the Charles J. Ping International Leadership Award is just one of the 14 awards offered during the leadership awards program. This award recognizes an international student or students that show meaningful leadership at the university and in the surrounding community. We salute you Dr. Ping!