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Ohio Northern University honors six with Distinguished Alumni Awards

Jul 6, 2016

Ohio Northern University’s Alumni Association presented Distinguished Alumni Awards during a banquet on June 4.

The awards, recognizing outstanding service and loyalty, were presented to Phillip Caris, Michael Kaufmann, Carla Kim, Douglas Mock, Robert Smith and Thomas Vukovich. The banquet was part of Northern’s 2016 Alumni Weekend, held June 3-5.

“The Distinguished Alumni Award is the highest honor that Ohio Northern bestows upon its graduates,” said Dan DiBiasio, president of Ohio Northern University. “In selecting its recipients, we examine personal character, career achievements, community engagement and loyalty to the University. As such, these individuals are role models for Polar Bears everywhere, and we are delighted to honor them with this prestigious award. These alumni are true testaments to the lasting impact of a Northern education.”

Caris is the owner of PCLU Consulting Services, which specializes in business strategy development and implementation, business development planning, and the development of organizational capabilities. After graduating from Northern in 1982 with a bachelor’s degree in management and marketing, Caris took a sales and marketing position at Cooper Tire and Rubber Company in Findlay, Ohio. He served in this role until 2000 when he was named director of sales and marketing, European operations. In 2002, he was promoted to vice president of sales and marketing, which included oversight of more than $2.5 billion in topline revenue in the United States and Canada. He retired from Cooper Tire in 2015. As an ONU alumnus, Caris serves on the Dicke College of Business Administration Advisory Board, and he has been a major sponsor of the business college’s annual Scholarship Golf Outing. The College of Business Administration honored him with its Outstanding Service Award in 2013.

Kaufmann, who graduated from ONU in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, is the chief financial officer for Cardinal Health in Dublin, Ohio. Cardinal Health is a $103 billion global health care services company with operations in the U.S. and seven other countries. As CFO, Kaufmann is responsible for all the company’s financial activities, including external reporting, investor relations, tax strategy/planning and capital deployment. The Institute for Women’s Leadership awarded him a 2014 “Guys Who Get It Award,” and the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association awarded him a 2012 “Honorable Mention” for his support of women in the workforce. He also was quoted by The Wall Street Journal in an article titled “Women at Work: A Guide for Men.” Kaufmann is a member of the ONU Board of Trustees and a past member of the Dicke College of Business Administration Advisory Board.

Kim is principal investigator in the Carla Kim Lab at Children’s Hospital Boston and associate professor in the Harvard Medical School Department of Genetics. Her research interests involve the relationships between stem cell biology, cancer biology and lung biology. After graduating from Ohio Northern in 1997 with a bachelor’s degree in biology, Kim attended the University of Wisconsin, Madison, for a doctorate in genetics. She next engaged in a postdoctoral fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for Cancer Research. In addition to running her research lab through her present joint appointment at Harvard and Children’s Hospital Boston, Kim mentors graduate students, lectures, attends seminars and writes grants. Kim is a member of the University’s Board of Trustees. She and her husband, Charles (also an ONU graduate) have established an endowed scholarship at ONU for women in the sciences.

After graduating from Ohio Northern in 1978 with a bachelor’s degree in marketing, Mock earned an MBA from Miami University and joined J.J.B. Hilliard, W.L. Lyons Inc. as a stockbroker. After working as a project manager with AccuRay Corporation, Mock joined the family business started by his father: Mock Woodworking in Zanesville, Ohio. Mock has been president and owner of Mock Woodworking since 1986, and the company has expanded from a small one-man shop to a 46,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility. The company has received numerous awards of excellence and craftsmanship awards, and has been named Subcontractor of the Year and Supplier of the Year by major customers. As a Northern alumnus, Mock has served as a member of the Board of Trustees since 2004, serving on the Executive Committee, the Investment Committee and the most recent Presidential Selection Committee. He is the former vice chair of the Finance Committee and current chair of the Advancement Committee.

Smith, who graduated from ONU in 1975 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, is chairman and CEO of Spero-Smith Investment Advisers in Cleveland, Ohio. Smith joined Spero-Smith as president in 1993, and under his leadership the investment firm’s assets have grown from $50 million to more than $795 million today. Smith currently serves as chair of the Board of Directors of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority and chair of the Cuyahoga Community College Visitors Committee. Smith has been appointed to serve in leadership roles by Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, former Gov. Ted Strickland and Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson. As an Ohio Northern alumnus, Smith has served on the Board of Trustees for 22 years; he also is immediate past chairman. In 2009, he became the first recipient of the Dicke College of Business Administration Outstanding Service Award. He received both a Pinnacle Award and honorary doctorate from ONU in 2012.

Vukovich is co-chair of the University of Akron Retirees Association, a recognized campus organization that brings together more than 300 retirees of the university for advocacy, service and educational, cultural and social activities. After graduating from Ohio Northern in 1965 with a bachelor’s degree in education, Vukovich taught at Liberty Junior High School in Youngstown, Ohio, and Stow High School in Stow, Ohio. He pursued an MBA at the University of Akron and later became a student adviser. This led to a lengthy career at Akron; he retired in 2000 as associate provost for student and enrollment services, during which he was responsible for more than 200 staff members and a budget of more than $11 million. As a Northern alumnus, Vukovich has been a member of the Getty College of Arts & Sciences Advisory Board for more than 20 years. He and his wife, Diane, established The Vukovich Scholarship for Excellence in Mathematics and Science in 2008.