Distinguished Alumni 1993

Past award recipient bios as they appeared in that year's event program (*deceased)

GEORGE B. DAVIS AWARD: Ronald A. Bender, ‘62 BA

Since his graduation from Fenn College in 1962, Ronald Bender has been a great source of activity and inspiration at Cleveland State, as well as a vital asset to various efforts, endeavors and projects embarked upon at CSU.

President and Chief Operating Office of Euthenics, Inc., a civil engineering consulting firm, he is also former president for both the CSU Alumni Association and the College of Engineering Alumni Organization. He has also served on the Board of Directors of the Cleveland Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) in addition to serving as its President in 1986 and 1987. In 1990 he was honored by the Cleveland Section as ASCE Civil Engineer of the Year and is now recognized as an ASCE Fellow, the highest honor bestowed by the organization.

Ron believes public universities like Cleveland State are extremely important to a region like Northeast Ohio for it offers education at an affordable price, in the process reaching out toward people who might not otherwise have access to higher education. “My advice to current students is that you’re not going to get anywhere these days without an education,” he says. “Also, while grades are important, involvement in organizations and work experience are vital as well and often times the deciding factor of whether someone gets hired.”

It was that type of professional experience that Ron feels helped him in his career field. “Fenn was a hands-on college and that has carried over today with the co-op program. With professional training, you’re always more prepared,” he says, citing the seven current CSU graduates that his company employs. “CSU grads work well in our business.”

Married for 31 years, Ron lives with his wife, Sue, in Strongsville. He has two sons, one a graduate of Ohio University and the other a graduate of Cleveland State University.

LIFETIME LEADERSHIP: Hon. Jane L. Campbell, ‘80 MA

Ohio State Representative Jane L. Campbell’s commitment to the good fight has highlighted her legislative career. A member of the Ohio House of Representatives since 1984, Jane has long taken up causes on behalf of the public at large, effecting legislation involving domestic violence shelter funding, odometer fraud of on automobiles and rights for institutionalized patients, among other accomplishments.

It has also been her commitment to Ohio’s working families that has distinguished her legislative tenure and made her a champion for the people. “I believe we need to invest in working Ohio, especially the families,” she says. Toward the end, she believes that one of the biggest challenges she now faces is trying to develop a state budget that adequately and equally distributes funds.

For instance, she would like to see the state provide day case and health care for Ohio’s low-income families. She would also like to see the state provide part-time student grants for people with families who want and need to go back to school, yet can only do so part time and with financial assistance. Presently, grants are only available for full-time students.

Jane is also working on “school-funding equity,” redefining the formula that distributes funds for local school districts, a formula that adjusts for various regional differences in property tax. She believes education on the whole needs to be bolstered in Ohio, citing the low percentage of college graduates compared with other states, a problem which she believes can be attributed to the relatively high cost of education.

Prior to her election, she served as executive director of Friends of Shaker Square, field director for ERAmerica and was one of the founders of WomenSpace, a coalition of over 60 organizations working for the betterment of women. She lives in Cleveland with her husband Hunter Morrison and their two daughters, Jessica Elizabeth and Catherine Joanna. She is also a deacon at Heights Christian Church and has been appointed to serve as a member of the National Committee on Welfare Reform.

EMERGING LEADERSHIP: Donna Y. Ford-Harris, ‘84 BA/’88 MA/’91 Ph.D.

During her tenure as a student and educator, Donna Y. Ford-Harris has diligently sought to improve the well-being and educational status of urban and minority students.

An assistant professor at the University of Kentucky’s College of Human Environmental Sciences, Donna was the recipient of a three-year $800,000 grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to explore issues of substance abuse among our nation’s youth. Her main concerns, however, extend into the areas of urban education, multi-cultural education and human development and learning, as well as issues related to the achievement of African-American students in urban school settings. She also serves as an educational consultant to several school districts, as a reviewer of manuscripts and grants submitted for publication and funding consideration and on the board of directors for the Lexington (KY) Children’s Museum. 

Donna believes that it is important for children to have an opportunity for achieving their academic potential because it leads to future accomplishments. “I want them to be successful,” she says, qualifying that success is measured by how much of your dreams you can attain. “It’s important for people to realize that if a child has a dream of becoming a housewife, then that is not a sign of underachievement. The dream itself is a goal. It is something that motivates.” 

“My ultimate goal in my work is to reverse the underrepresentation of minority students in gifted programs,” she says. “That’s what keeps me focused. My work gives me an opportunity to do what I enjoy to do and do best.”

Donna is married to John Harris III, former CSU Dean of the College of Education. She will begin a new position as assistant professor of education at the University of Virginia in September.

CIVIC ACHIEVEMENT: Frances Hunter, ‘88 MA

Frances Hunter places a high premium on involvement. The Recruitment/Placement Specialist for Cleveland State’s Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs, she also volunteers her services to numerous community organizations including the Citizens League, the Candidates Committee and the Ohio Literacy Network, extending her teaching skills from the classroom to the board room to the neighborhood.

Having begun her teaching career in Berkeley, California, she came back to Cleveland in 1976 to assist in the desegregation of the Cleveland Public Schools. At that time, she received the Educational Policy Fellowship from George Washington University’s Institute for Educational Leadership and began working with the Greater Cleveland Project, a coalition of 74 religious, business, social service and neighborhood organizations. She became the Project’s director in 1978. In 1981 she became the Director of the Cleveland YWCA’s Department of Public Affairs and Racial Justice and in 1986 began her work with CSU’s Levin College of Urban Affairs. In her role of Recruitment/Placement Specialist, she is responsible for the development and implementation of the Graduate Assistant Program, overseeing internships, career placement activities and graduate student recruitment.

Currently, Fran is also the Vice President of the Cleveland Public Library’s Board of Trustees, Chairperson for the YWCA’s 125th Anniversary committee, a member of the Conference of Minority Public Administrators, a member of the Black Women’s Political Action Committee and an Elder in the First Presbyterian Church in East Cleveland.

“All the problems we see arising today,” she says, “come from a lack of understanding other people and other cultures. I really believe in the advice “walk in someone else’s shoes.” It is very important for someone who wants to be an effective public or corporate leader.”

Frances has two children, her son Richard who lives in Cleveland and her daughter Kim who resides in Michigan.

SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT: *Timothy J. Russert, ‘76 JD/’07 LL.D.

The arena of Sunday morning political punditry is a crowded one, with various voices vying loudly for ears. Nevertheless, NBC’s Timothy Russert has asserted himself admirably, becoming one of the more authoritative voices on the political scene. His straight-arrow interviewing and understanding of the political process, his ability to disseminate and relate information and his wry sense of irony all blend to provide an experienced voice that illustrates both the fortunes and folly of politics for NBC’s Meet the Press.

During the 1992 presidential election, Tim became a familiar face and an authoritative voice on the political scene. A Senior Vice President and Washington Bureau Chief of NBC News, Tim has served as both moderator for NBC’s Meet the Press since December 1991 and as national political analyst on NBC’s Today Show since June 1991. During his tenure with NBC, he has supervised live broadcasts from Rome for Today, negotiating and arranging for a televised private mass and greeting from Pope John Paul II, a first for American television. In 1990 he oversaw production of the prime time news special “A Day in the Life of the White House.” From 1986 to 1991, he participated in the coverage of six U.S./U.S.S.R. Summits in Geneva, Malta, Washington and Moscow.

Prior to joining NBC News, Tim served as Counselor to New York Governor Mario M. Cuomo in 1983 and 1984. From 1977 to 1982, he served first as Special Counsel and then Chief of staff to United States Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan. In 1980, he was selected as a Fellow of the Commission of European Communities. In 1992, he received the John Peter Zenger Award from the New York State Bar Association.

A Buffalo, New York native, Tim graduated from John Carroll University prior to attending Cleveland State. He is admitted to the bar in both New York State and the District of Columbia and is married to Maureen Orth, a writer for Vanity Fair Magazine. They live in Washington, D.C. with their six-year old son, Luke.