Sixteen individuals, Mid-Ohio Valley Club honored at awards banquet

Sixteen individuals and one club were  honored at the Marshall University Alumni Association’s 77th annual Alumni Awards Banquet held last week in the Memorial Student Center’s Don Morris Room.

The awards banquet highlighted the  2014 Alumni Weekend, which took place last Friday and Saturday,

Here is a list of the distinguished alumni award winners for 2014.


Distinguished Alumnus Award – Dr. Eric R. George

Dr. Eric R. George is a hand surgeon practicing medicine in Louisiana. A native of Huntington and a graduate of Huntington East High School, he received his medical degree from Marshall. He completed General Trauma Surgery Residency at Michigan State University, then completed a fellowship in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Grand Rapids Area Medical Education Center in Grand Rapids, Mich. George currently is Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Surgery at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, La., and adjunct assist professor of orthopaedics in the Department of Orthopaedics at Tulane. His practice, the Hand Center of Louisiana, is a state-of-the-art facility which treats NFL players and key players in the oil and gas industries, among other businesses, and is the largest in the Gulf South region. He owns a luxury hospital, the Omega Hospital, and several ambulatory surgery centers, urgent care clinics, and assisted living centers.

He  graduated from MU’s School of Medicine in 1989 and his  success has not come easily. At Marshall, he was diagnosed with dyslexia, and reading at barely a high school level. Dr. Pat Brown, associate dean of academic and student affairs, said, “Still, he was getting C’s where others were failing. I caught a glimpse of what must be phenomenal intelligence.” George still calls Huntington home. “We still like to get a Stewart’s hot dog, a Tudor’s biscuit and go to a Marshall game,” he said. Last year, a Marshall University Society of Yeager Scholarship was provided by George in memory of his late brother, Aaron C. George, a fighter pilot who was killed in a crash. He continues to be involved in numerous philanthropic endeavors


Alumnus Community Achievement Award – Karen Williams

Karen Williams is a native of Charleston’s westside.  Once Williams graduated from Marshall University in 1975, she immediately started teaching at Glenwood Elementary School which she had attended.  . During her five years of teaching at Glenwood, she discovered one of her major loves and passions was reading. This love was passed on to her students and the community and resulted in her obtaining her first master’s degree from MU in reading K-12. This move allowed her to give back to the community working with the Kanawha Home for Children, being a reading specialist at the district level and being an advocate for reading and literacy in the Kanawha Valley area.

Her commitment to community and literacy are exhibited in her involvement with numerous organizations that place emphasis on  reading and a solid education and how it is imperative that this starts in our homes and communities. She has been the national and state chair of the Association for Developmental Education, on the board and an active member of Kanawha County International Reading Association, on the Board of Directors and a clinician of the Literacy Volunteers of Kanawha County, charter member of the Charleston District Outreach Ministries Tutor Training, a member of the National Dropout Prevention Network and the Kanawha  County Literacy Coalition. Throughout her life, she has placed emphasis on giving back to her community and its residents.


Distinguished Service Award – Charles C. Lanham

Charles C. Lanham had a distinguished career in banking for 55 years after graduating from Marshall College in the spring of 1952. While developing his banking career, he served his alma mater on numerous high levels for decades. Lanham was active for many years with the Alumni Association in Huntington and later became actively involved with the Mason/Gallia/Meigs chapter located in Point Pleasant. He nurtured that chapter which provided thousands of dollars for scholarships for the Big green. In 1977, Lahham was honored by the Alumni Association with the Alumnus Community Achievement Award.

Lanham served for 12 years on the President’s Advisory Board, the forerunner to the current Board of Governors. He also served on three presidential search committees. Lanham served for more than 30 years on the board of Directors of the MU Foundation. For his active and productive work in  supporting the MU library, Lanham was honored in 2005 with the John Drinko Distinguished Service Award. And, the Mid-Ohio Valley Center, is now owned free and clear by Marshall. thanks in large part to Lanham’s efforts. “Over the past 19 years, the time the MOVC has been in existence, the center has served thousands of Marshall University students, which is a direct connection back to the vision of one man, Mr. Charles Lanham,” said Homer Preece, director of the center.


Club of the YearMid-Ohio Valley Club

The Mid-Ohio Valley Club, which directly influenced the decision of 12 students to attend Marshall University through scholarships awarded, is the Club of the Year. The club raised enough money to award 11 $1,000 scholarships to local students, not only from Wood County, but surrounding counties as well as a result of its annual scholarship and fundraising banquet in March 2013. He banquet drew a crowd of 274 people, including local alumni, parents, students and Marshall officials. The club also was awarded one $3,000 medical school scholarship to a local student attending the School of Medicine. The Mid-Ohio Valley Club also co-sponsors the “Rally in the alley,” an annual summer coaches’ tour stop at the North End Tavern in Parkersburg. In the past four years, the club has donated $11,750 in total to the MU Foundation for the Vision Campaign, which included $4,000 in 2013.


Nancy Pelphrey Herd Village Scholarship – Kristopher Pack and Katelyn Daly

Kristopher Pack of Beckley is a member of Marshall’s cheerleading squad, majoring in nursing.  Among his volunteer activities are Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity philanthropics; Big Brothers, Big Sisters; Homes for our Troops; Humane Society; RAINN, Ronald McDonald House charities and Race for the Cure.

Katelyn Daly of Vienna, W.Va., is an environmental science major and a member of the marching band. Among her volunteer activities are the MU Campus Flood (a religious organization); Team Amplify (drama team), CYG Refuge (a youth group) and  membership in the 19th St. Church of God. She also teaches swimming during the summer.


Nate Ruffin Scholarship Award – London Straughter

London Straughter is from Charleston, the son of Karl and Teresa Straughter.  Before coming to Marshall in the fall of 2011, he attended WVU Institute of Technology on a baseball scholarship. He currently is a senior, majoring in Management, Marketing, and Energy Management with a minor in Entrepreneurship. After graduation, he plans to continue his studies at Marshall, as he pursues a master’s in business administration and a master of science in human resource management.


Young Alumni Award – James Lester

James Lester graduated from Marshall in 2007. To be eligible for the Young Alumni Award, the recipient must be 35 years old or younger, be an active member of the alumni association, show outstanding achievement in their field of endeavor, have  a personal commitment to their community and demonstrate personal commitment to Marshall University and its students. Lester is a counselor with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and a doctoral candidate in psychology.  As a disabled military veteran, he strives to improve the lives and liberties of his fellow veterans and others with disabilities, not only professionally, but also by serving several organizations and agencies around the state on boards of directors, advisory groups, and multiple committees. Lester believes it is important to help in any way, whether it is quietly providing monetary donations, getting on the phone and advocating for support from local politicians, volunteering at local centers, or by serving on committees or boards.


Carolyn Hunter Faculty Service Award – Adam M. Franks, M.D.

Adam M. Franks is an associate professor in the Department of Family and Community Health at the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.  A 1994 graduate of the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine,  Franks completed a residency in family medicine at Marshall and a fellowship in advanced maternal care (surgical obstetrics) at the University of Tennessee-Memphis.   Since joining the faculty at Marshall in 2001, Franks has provided comprehensive primary care at Marshall Family Medicine in Lavalette in Wayne Count.  Franks has served as an assistant scoutmaster and medical officer for the Tri-State Area Boy Scout Council, is an active member and Elder at  Highlawn Presbyterian Church and a volunteer coach for the Wayne County Youth Soccer League.

Awards of Distinction

College of Education and Professional Development – Charles R. Shuff

Charles R. Shuff grew up in Huntington and graduated from Huntington High School, then Marshall University, earning a B.A. in physical education and social studies. As a professional educator, Shuff  spent his entire career in the Prince Georges County Public School System  (1968-2004) in Maryland, primarily teaching physical education. Shuff also coaches soccer at Suitland High School in Maryland. He was recognized in 1984 by the Prince Georges Journal (Newspaper) as co-coach of the year. In 1987, he was selected as the MAHPERD Elementary Physical Education teacher of the year for Prince Georges County. Shuff retired from teaching in Prince Georges County in 2004 after 36 years of service, educating children. Today, he lives in Annapolis Maryland, where he enjoys following the Herd and keeping up with things happening at Marshall.


College of Business – John C. Burris(awarded posthumously)

John C. Burris’ musical ability earned him a full scholarship to Duke University after graduating as salutatorian of Wahama High School in 1973 but he chose to accept Marshall University’s academic scholarship to study business administration, graduating summa cum laude in 1977. After graduation, AT&T and Lucent Technologies offered Burris a position in its management trainee program which took him all over the world.   In 1991, Burris became the Managing Director/Vice President-Europe for the AT&T Business Products joint venture in London.  His success in this part of the world led to him being sent to Sydney, Australia, and then Hong Kong as the Managing Director/VP for Asia Pacific.  He engineered the entire infrastructure of the organization. In 1994, Burris returned to the United States as the VP and General Manager of the Gulf States Area and settled in Fort Lauderdale.  In 1998, he was chosen for Leaders Council, the highest honor in Lucent Technologies. In 1999, Burris joined Citrix Systems for a 10-year run.  He was a key contributor to the company’s growth with revenues increasing from $400 million to $1.4 billion.


College of Information technology and Engineering – Charles Neighborgall

Charles Neighborgall, who was born in Huntington, has worked his entire career at the Neighborgall Construction Company. He started as a water boy, and now he is Chairman of the Board of Directors. He has been a laborer, carpenter, assistant estimator, estimator, assistant project manager, project manager, senior project manager, general manager, vice president, chief operating officer, president and chief executive officer. During this time, the company put nearly a billion dollars worth of commercial and institutional building construction in place. Neighborgall earned a bachelor of engineering science degree at Marshall in 1967 and currently serves as an advisory board member for the engineering program. He has remained very active with ties to many organizations at Marshall, such as the Artists Series, the Society of Yeager Scholars, he Alumni Association, the Thunder Club, the Big Green and the Quarterback Club.


College of Liberal Arts — Aubrey King

Aubrey King received his B.A. degree magna cum laude from Marshall in 1963.While at MU, he majored in political science with minors in economics and history and was a four-year member of the Marshall debate team. Born and raised in Iaeger in McDowell County, he was a 1959 graduate of Iaeger High School. After graduating from Marshall, he was awarded a Rotary International Fellowship for a year’s study at the Indian School of International Studies in New Deli, India. He later received his master’s degree in political science from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. King has spent more than three decades as a professional lobbyist in Washington, D.C., where he has represented diverse trade associations and other clients. He also has been an adjunct lecturer at George Washington University, teaching the politics of tourism and recreation.


Marshall University School of Medicine – R. Mark Hatfield

R. Mark Hatfield, O.D., M.D., F.A.C.S., is founder and managing member of Retina Consultants, PLLC, in Charleston.   After earning a doctor of optometry degree from Illinois College of Optometry, he received his M.D. degree from the Marshall University School of Medicine in 1983.  He completed a surgical internship at Marshall, an ophthalmology residency at the University of Illinois School of Medicine, and a vitreoretinal fellowship at Rush Presbyterian St. Luke’s in Chicago.  Hatfield has been honored with numerous awards over his career including Outstanding Student Awards in 1980 and 1981 and was elected to membership in the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society while at Marshall.   Last year, he received the Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary Distinguished Alumnus Award and was named by the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine Alumni Association as the 2013 Distinguished Alumnus.

In addition to his medical practice, Hatfield is a busy lecturer who has presented at a number of professional meetings, including ones sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control, the West Virginia Optometric Association and the West Virginia Academy of Ophthalmology.   He is a generous supporter of Marshall University and the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.  A native of Logan, Hatfield is married to the former Monica Wilton, former chair of the Marshall Foundation and a two-time Marshall graduate. They are the parents of three adult children.


College of Arts and Media – William Campbell and Leslie Petteys

William “Skip” Campbell was born in Huntington and  spent most of his boyhood shuttling between a little farm in southern Ohio and his mother’s ancestral home in Huntington because of his brother, Don’s, bout with rheumatic fever which necessitated the family being close to a hospital. Skip attended a number of different schools due to his brother’s illness. He joined the Navy reserve in 1964 after graduating from Huntington High School. In 1968, he returned to Huntington and earned a degree in math from Marshall. After graduating from MU, he taught math and computer science at South Point High School in South Point, Ohio, for 17 years. In 1989, Campbell retired from teaching and opened up Huntington Software  and ran it until 2002.  In 2002, he started working at River Valley Child Development Services in Huntington. He retired from RVCDS in 2011 and is living with his wife, Leslie Petteys, in the family’s  home on 7th Avenue. Skip loves all forms of art and is eager to help with art education in Huntington.

Dr. Leslie Petteys is professor emeritus of piano and graduate studies in music at Marshall. Her work in American music and interest in women composers gained Petteys national recognition. She contributed numerous articles to scholarly journals and publications and has been invited to present lectures and lecture-recitals for the national meetings of several scholarly associations. She has performed as a solo and collaborative pianist in 13 states and the District of Columbia. Her greatest joy at Marshall was her work with students, many of whom have gone on to become teachers and professional musicians. Since retirement, she continues to work with young people as a mentor. Petteys and her husband, William “Skip” Campbell, have recently become active members in the city-wide committee, River to Rail project, and in various other projects to preserve and beautify the west end of Huntington.


College of Health Professions – Kelly Levy

Kelly Levy, who originally is from Springfield, Ohio, has dedicated her life to giving back to those in the Tri-State communities. Currently, she serves as vice president of family service at Hospice of Huntington where she is responsible for developing and coordinating bereavement, chaplain, social work and volunteer programs for hospice patients and their families. Levy graduated cum laude from Marshall in 1983 with a bachelor’s degree in social work. She now serves on the university’s social work advisory board and also as a field instructor for the work practicum students. She remains active in the National Association of Social Workers.