The induction ceremony for the 2015 Class of the College of Business Hall of Fame took place Monday, April 27, at the Foundation Hall, home of the Erickson Alumni Center.
The latest class of inductees includes:
- J. Richard Damron Jr., former president and CEO of Home Diagnostics, Inc.
- Calvin A. Kent, former vice president, Center for Business and Economic Research (CBER) at Marshall University and former dean of the College of Business, Marshall University.
- Paula George Tompkins, founder and CEO of ChannelNet
- Janet Smith Vineyard, president of the West Virginia Oil Marketers and Grocers Association (OMEGA)
- Dr. Stephen J. Kopp, former president of Marshall University (posthumously)
Here is a brief look at each inductee:
Richard Damron Jr. is a senior executive with over 30 years of global and domestic experience with companies and corporate divisions ranging in size from start-up to $200 million revenue in health care, life sciences and financial sectors. He has a successful track record in both the public and private sector.
Damron was the President, Chief Executive Officer, and a board member of Home Diagnostic Inc. (Nipro Diagnostic) from February 2001 to March 2009. He led the operational and financial reengineering of this manufacturer and marketer of diabetic testing systems, took the company through a successful IPO in 2006, and was named by Forbes magazine as one of the 200 Best Small Companies in 2008. He has been employed in the medical products industry since 1980, in both operational and financial roles.
Prior to joining Home Diagnostics, he was a consultant and provided business and strategic planning to a variety of business and not-for-profit organizations. In 1996, Damron became Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Apollo Eye Group Inc. He was responsible for SEC reporting and compliance, strategic planning, budgeting and financial management for the retail optical and vision care company.
Other business affiliations include: Senior Vice President, Mergers and Acquisitions and Chief Financial Officer of Chiron Vision Corp, partner in the investment firm of Tullis Cook & Company, the Executive Vice President of Operations at Cooper Vision Cilco, Senior Manager at Hayflich & Steinberg, and Senior Accountant at Smart & McGinnis. In addition he has been active in numerous community activities.
He earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Accounting from Marshall and is a CPA. While at Marshall, he was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity.
He resides in Boca Raton, Florida, with his wife, Pattie, who also earned her B.A. from Marshall in 1973.
Calvin A. Kent, Ph.D. AAS, retired in January from Marshall, where he had been a former dean of the College of Business, Vice President for Business and Economic Research and Director of the BB&T Center for American Capitalism.
Currently he is Distinguished Professor of Business Emeritus and Senior Economist at Marshall’s Center for Business and Economic Research.
He came to Marshall from Washington, D.C., where he was the administrator of the Energy Information Administration and Assistant Secretary for the Department of Energy during President George Herbert Walker Bush’s administration.
For 12 years he held the Herman W. Lay Chair in Private Enterprise at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Before that he was professor of economics at the University of South Dakota and chief economist for the South Dakota Legislative Research Council.
He has been mayor or chair of the city council in three different cities, including Huntington. Kent is a former co-vice chair of Gov. Cecil Underwood’s Fair Tax Commission and served as committee chair on Gov. Joe Manchin’s Tax Modernization Committee.
Active in many civic and community activities Kent is also a lay minister, Sunday school teacher, elder and choir member at First Presbyterian Church in Huntington. He has been married for 52 years and has two daughters and six grandchildren.
Paula George Tompkins is a strategic visionary with a deep understanding of marketing and technology. Her 30-plus-year career encompasses the full spectrum of marketing, from direct mail and call centers to multi-channel and omnichannel experiences. She is an authority on leveraging digital touch points to drive store traffic. An inventor, Tompkins holds two U.S. patents for ChannelNet’s SiteBuilderTM software technology.
She started her career as a commercial banker in 1974 with a stint on Wall Street at the Bank of New York. Abandoning Wall Street in 1975, she went on to break gender barriers at both 3M and General Electric (GE) industrial sales divisions as a sales engineer. At GE, she sold computer components to Silicon Valley companies.
In 1985, she founded The SoftAd Group, which was renamed ChannelNet in 2004. She has led the company’s creation of thousands of multichannel marketing and sales solutions for corporate America. Over time, the solutions have evolved from 5 ¼” and 3 ½” diskettes and early iterations of multimedia to CD-ROM and client/server technology, the Internet, tablets and other mobile devices.
Tompkins actively works to promote the school’s programs. She has served on the university’s foundation board of directors for 12 years.
In 2014, Marshall University’s Yeager Leadership Institute presented Tompkins with the second annual William E. Willis Leadership Award for her exemplary leadership in three areas — learning, guidance and honor.
She has appeared on numerous television programs and has been featured in many online and print publications. Also renowned in the international business arena, Tompkins has been the focus of articles in a number of periodicals around the world.
Tompkins has lectured at Columbia University’s School of Business, the University of California Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, Stanford University and Marshall University.
Born and raised in Huntington, Tompkins holds a bachelor’s in business administration from Marshall. Her main residence is in the Silicon Valley area of California.
In July of 1993, she became the executive director of the West Virginia Petroleum Marketers Association (WVPMA) and West Virginia Association of Convenience Stores (WVACS). Three years later, Vineyard led the merger of these two associations and the West Virginia Grocers Association to create the West Virginia Oil Marketers and Grocers Association Inc. (OMEGA) and was named president of the new organization.
In 2006, OMEGA entered into a joint venture with the West Virginia Trucking Association (WVTA). In January 2013, OMEGA began managing the West Virginia Wholesalers Association (WVWA) and on Jan. 1, 2014, she and her staff took over management of the Independent Insurance Agents of West Virginia, Inc. (IIAWV).
In addition to her role with OMEGA, Vineyard acts as president of WVTA and executive director of WVWA, and CEO of IIAWV. She promotes cooperation between the industries through the pursuit of their common interests and goals and by providing support and services to members.
Vineyard has been married for 31 years to Gary Vineyard, and together they have one son, Craig, who resides in Huntington
Jan Vineyard holds an A.S. in Retailing, B.B.A. in Marketing and Transportation, and a M.B.A. from Marshall University. While at Marshall, she was a member of Alpha Xi Delta Sorority.
Under his leadership, Marshall experienced unprecedented growth and development. The strategic vision and priorities that guided Marshall under President Kopp’s leadership stressed the importance of student success and developing the tools and resources required to advance this success. The Marshall Commitment, an 11-element action plan for advancing academic quality at Marshall, expressed and embodied this action agenda.
During Kopp’s presidency, more than $300 million in new buildings and building renovations were completed or begun, remaining in progress today. These projects include the $56 million Arthur Weisberg Family Applied Engineering Complex, the downtown Visual Arts Center, the Veterans Memorial Soccer Complex, and a three-building indoor practice complex, which includes an indoor practice facility, student-athlete academic center and the Sports Medicine Translational Research Center.
Marshall’s academic profile grew dramatically with new high-demand majors and degree programs, including digital forensics and the new schools of pharmacy, physical therapy and public health. Under Kopp’s leadership, the four-year undergraduate engineering program was re-established and is now fully accredited.
External funding for research doubled and a $30 million research endowment was established at Marshall, following the successful mini-campaign to raise $15 million in private gifts. President Kopp was the architect for the West Virginia Research Trust Fund legislation, which matched dollar-for-dollar the private gifts to Marshall in support of research.
Additionally, during his tenure, Marshall became a leading university for advanced, high-performance computing and Internet-2 connectivity. The evolution of this platform has positioned Marshall University to partner and compete globally anytime, anywhere with anyone at any level.
Marshall University continues to excel as the nation’s leading, accredited graduate DNA forensics program and has added to it the only accredited digital forensics program in the world.
In response to the needs of local, state and federal intelligence and law-enforcement communities, the university launched an undergraduate major in digital forensics. In conjunction with these developments, the Rahall Transportation Institute at Marshall has advanced to become one of the top university transportation centers in the country.
Besides its continued progress in infrastructure development and academic innovation, Marshall has also grown in enrollment and in the geographic area it serves. Under Kopp’s guidance, Marshall welcomed the largest freshman classes in its 175-year history and undertook a groundbreaking initiative in international student recruitment.
Dr. and Mrs. (Jane) Kopp were always proud to call West Virginia home and quickly became endeared with the people and beauty of Huntington. Kopp was honored by Create Huntington for his efforts to help improve the livability of Huntington and his counsel was frequently sought for his candid and thoughtful approach to business and community matters.
He lent his expertise to a variety of area economic development organizations
Kopp had a true appreciation for the arts and recognized their importance in building a strong and vibrant community. His support helped make possible the Old Main Corridor and Fourth Avenue beautification projects. Kopp led Marshall through the purchase of the former Stone & Thomas building, which has become a downtown visual arts center and an anchor of the new city landscape, bringing Marshall and downtown Huntington closer together.
In addition, Kopp lined the president’s office suite with student artwork – hand-picked to highlight the immense visits artistic talent he saw in the Marshall community.
Kopp joined Marshall following leadership positions with Midwestern University, Central Michigan University and Ohio University. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from the University of Notre Dame, and his Ph.D. in Physiology and Biophysics from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
He served as a postdoctoral fellow at the St. Louis University Medical Center, and a research fellow and NIH Fellow in the department of biochemistry at the University of Illinois at Chicago prior to joining the faculty of Midwestern University.