Nominate a deserving recipient for our 2022 Alumni Awards
Each year during Homecoming Weekend the University of Findlay Alumni Association recognizes our distinguished and honorary alumni through an Alumni Awards Celebration.
Watch the recording from our 2021 Alumni Awards Celebration.
2021 Alumni Award Recipients
Old Main Award
Kyle G. Dresbach Pharm. D, a 2014 graduate of the University of Findlay College of Pharmacy, is the 2021 recipient of the Old Main Award for outstanding achievement before the age of 36.
During his time at UF, Dresbach was the President of the Pharmacy Student Leadership Council, The Rho Chi Society, The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, and the Kappa Epsilon Professional Pharmacy Fraternity. Upon graduating, he earned an Executive MBA from The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business. His 3.92 and 3.93 cumulative GPA, respectively, showed his potential for both medicine and business early on, and his educational experiences were a clear beacon for things to come in his professional life.
Professionally, Dresbach has been a leader both in the pharmaceutical and business world. Upon graduating from UF, he was employed as both the Chief of Pharmacy and Executive Officer to Clinic CEO for McConnell Air Force Base where he proposed and implemented an automated notification system deemed Air Force best practice and streamlined pharmacy processes through the design of a $1.4 million renovation resulting in a 21% wait time reduction, among other highlights. He has also been the Associate Chief of Pharmacy Operations for the Central Ohio VA Healthcare System and the Pharmacist-in-Charge for CoverMyMeds, where he now currently works as the Director of Pharmacy Operations.
Dresbach’s exceptional operational leadership, effective communication, and friendly interpersonal skills have all helped him toward efficiently organizing teams, planning solutions and working with a wide variety of people to drive successful execution of key projects.
The University of Findlay recognizes Kyle G. Dresbach for his productive career as a healthcare business leader. The Alumni Association is pleased to name him the 2021 Old Main Award recipient.
Honorary Alumni Award
Paul T. Davis M.D. is the 2021 recipient of the University of Findlay’s Honorary Alumni Award, which is presented to members of the University of Findlay community who have demonstrated loyalty and support of the institution and who do not hold a UF degree.
After graduating from high school in Central City, Kentucky, Davis joined the service as a young radioman in the United States Navy. He saw and earned the accolades of a Meritorious Unit Commendation, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Air Force Outstanding Award. He went on to earn an undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Louisville, and an M.D. from UL’s School of Medicine.
For his professional career in medicine, Davis began as a lab technician before opening his own office as a physician for a period of seven years. Later, he joined McComb Family Practice in McComb, Ohio, providing both inpatient and outpatient primary care as a solo practitioner in the rural community. Davis has worked for and with Blanchard Valley Regional Health Center in Findlay as Chairman of the Department of Family Practice; on the consulting staff; on the courtesy staff; and on the full active staff for a culmination of nine years, from 1986 – 1997.
A long and prosperous career and relationship with University of Findlay includes Davis formerly serving as both the Medical Director and Director for the Physician Assistant Program. His role as Medical Director included recruitment, monitoring of clinical sites, and developing didactic curriculum. As Director of the Program, he served as an Assistant Professor and planned, developed, organized, and implemented the 24-month primary care PA program. After a year as adjunct faculty teaching Adult Medicine II, Davis retired briefly before returning to UF as an Associate Professor, Program Director, and adjunct faculty for the program.
The University of Findlay recognizes Dr. Paul T. Davis for his dedication to the community and for his exceptional educational and medical endeavors. The Alumni Association is pleased to name him as the 2021 recipient of the Honorary Alumni Award.
Ms. Nondace N. Campbell, University of Findlay Assistant Professor Emerita of Reading, is the recipient of the 2021 Arch Award, given for more than 25 years of service by a person who is not an alum of the institution.
After earning an undergraduate degree from Huntington College, now Huntington University, in Huntington, IN, and a graduate degree in Education from The University of Toledo, Campbell’s career with the University of Findlay began in 1972, when it was known as Findlay College. Her love for books and the educational opportunities that come from a solid grasp on reading led Campbell to take on many roles in her career spanning more than 35 years.
Campbell, as a UF professor and a Director of the UF Reading Center, taught a myriad of classes, including Reading Improvement/College and Professional Reading; Adolescent Literature/Young Adult Literature; Reading in the Content Areas; College Writing; Study Skills; and Introduction to Literature.
Additionally, Campbell served on several committees and unselfishly provided many hours of volunteer service for the University. She worked extensively for the Reading Testing, Placement, and Competency Programs; toward the Book Awards Celebration, an annual program for teachers and librarians in Findlay and Hancock County which enabled them to learn about award-winning and recently published titles in young adult literature, and, along with additional funding, provide the distribution of free books for classrooms and/or libraries.
Campbell is currently involved with the University through its Mazza Museum, a place that she has personally seen grow from its humble beginnings as four works of art housed in UF’s Shafer Library to its current state as the largest and most diverse collection of picture book art in the world. Retired from teaching at UF, she volunteers as a docent at the Museum where, among other duties, she is in charge of filling out and sending roughly thirty to thirty-five birthday cards to author/illustrator friends of Mazza every month.
The University of Findlay recognizes Nondace N. Campbell for her success in reading education and the Alumni Association is pleased to announce her as the 2021 Arch Award recipient.
Gold Medallion Award
Mr. Paul M. Whitson ’91 is the recipient of the Gold Medallion Award, an honor posthumously bestowed to alumni who had superb records of distinguished career accomplishments and had made outstanding contributions to their profession, to their university, and/or to their community, but who had not been appropriately recognized by the University prior to their deaths.
A friend of the University long after his graduation, Whitson served on UF Advisory Boards for Curtain Raisers, Business Affiliates, and College of Business Hospitality and Sport Event Management. In 1996, he became associated with Whitson Properties, and, as General Manager for Country Inn & Suites and an avid supporter of UF sports, he regularly worked with the UF athletics department to offer discounted overnight stays for visiting teams. Whitson also provided complimentary rooms at the hotel for visiting dignitaries and speakers at UF, and, for several years, played host at Country Inn & Suites to parents and alumni for an afternoon barbecue during Homecoming Week. Additionally, his hotel played host for regional meetings of the church council affiliated with UF and Winebrenner for many years.
As part of Whitson Properties, the family business founded by his father George and mother Shirlee, and with which he worked with his brother John, Whitson was among the finest examples of philanthropy toward the University. The Whiston family helped create scholarships and sponsored many various events for areas across campus. In 2016, Whitson Properties made a commitment to UF’s Center for Student Life and College of Business as well as the Hospitality Management Program. Their gift is felt daily, as the building, having now come into its own as a focal point and essential part of campus, is considered to be yet another reason that the University is a leader in Ohio and beyond.
Whitson and his family also established the Angel and Butterfly Foundation and supported the building of the Angel and Butterfly Park in Findlay as a memorial, honor, and living tribute to Whitson’s daughters, both of whom died in childhood.
The University of Findlay recognizes Paul Whitson for his dedication to philanthropy, family, and community, and the Alumni Association is pleased to announce him as the 2021 Gold Medallion Award recipient.
Distinguished Alumni Award
Bret M. Bahn '99 M.D. is the recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award for 2021.
Bahn, following in his father’s footsteps as a graduate of what was then Findlay College, graduated from University of Findlay in 1999. He was the valedictorian of Riverdale High School in Mt. Blanchard, Ohio, and came to UF on scholarship that was made available to valedictorians at the time.
As a 1st Team All-Ohio placekicker in high school, of great importance in his decision to become an Oiler was also the coach of UF’s football team at that time, College Football Hall of Fame member and four-time NAIA National Champion Coach Richard “Dick” Strahm, who Bahn called a “very important role model.” Bahn eventually became the placekicker for the 1997 UF National Championship team and was named 1998 Academic All-American the following year as a punter.
Upon graduating from UF, Bahn worked for Blanchard Valley Hospital in Findlay, saving up for his medical education at Medical College of Ohio (now University of Toledo). During that period, and after he graduated from the MCO program, he began to think of his past relatives, including his grandfather, who served in the United States Navy, and the many positives that they had taken from their service to the country. The Navy paid for three years of his medical school ion exchange for a three-year commitment of active-duty service.
After enlisting, Bahn attended a surgical internship at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, and decided to pay back his time to the Navy as a flight surgeon, eventually logging about a hundred hours behind the controls on a dual piloted aircraft.
Upon leaving the service, Bahn completed his anesthesia residency at the University of Michigan in 2011 and his interventional pain fellowship at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland, and he is now an interventional pain management physician at NWO, where he cares for those with pain and provides specialized interventions and care for them through multiple different types of injections and procedures.
Bahn and his wife of 21 years, Annette, met at UF, and are the parents of four children, Gannon, Lainey, Tanner, and Cooper.
The University of Findlay recognizes Dr. Bret Bahn for his commitment to his country and medical care. The Alumni Association is pleased to name him a Distinguished Alumnus of 2021.
Mr. Eugene A. Fernandez '77 M'08 has been named a recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award for 2021.
Fernandez is a two-time graduate of University of Findlay, having studied as a triple-major as an undergraduate, earning a Bachelor of Science in Accounting, Marketing, and Business Administration in 1977. He added a Master of Business Administration thirty years later, in 2008. Fernandez completed his undergraduate education in just three and a half years while a member of the football team for which he was co-captain. He held a 3.49 GPA as an undergraduate and a 4.0 GPA as a graduate student.
A leader in many capacities, Fernandez was CEO/CFO of Fernandez & Kaiser Inc. in Bellevue, Ohio; the Director of Operations and Retail Division Controller for Norwalk Furniture Corporation in Norwalk, Ohio; and held several positions in leadership for Marathon Petroleum Corporation, including, among others, as Manager of Process improvement, Territory Manager for Asphalt Marketing Sales, and Supervisor for Financial Analysis & Leasing.
As an adjunct instructor at UF for several semesters, Fernandez taught Managerial Accounting and worked with Dana Scholars in 2019.
Currently the CFO of Community Services Institute in Findlay, Fernandez, who holds a black belt in Six Sigma, a methodology that uses proven strategies, tools, and statistical methodologies to improve virtually any process, is dedicated to coaching and training prospective and active professionals in continuous improvement.
The University of Findlay recognizes Eugene Fernandez for his success both as a University of Findlay student and as a professional. The Alumni Association is pleased to name him a 2021 Distinguished Alumnus.
Lieutenant Colonel William L. Layer '68 is a 2021 recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award.
Layer, a 1968 graduate of Findlay College/University of Findlay, earned a wealth of military medals as an enlisted member of the U.S. Army, including a Purple Heart for Military Merit and Wounds Received in Combat, four Overseas Bars (for each six months in a combat zone), two Army Commendation Medals, and National Defense Service Medals for service in Vietnam, Desert Storm, and Iraqi Freedom. He held several positions as a member of the District of Columbia National Guard, was a Dislocation Civilian Officer and Project Manager for Iraq/Central Asia Refugees/Intel, Director of Command/Public Affairs for Iraqi Freedom, and coordinated high level meetings between the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Reconstruction and the Commanding General.
Layer began a career in Washington as historian to the Air Force One operation in the first Reagan administration where he covered the hostage release from Iran, the Grenada intervention and certain diplomatic aspects of the Falklands' War. He later was on the staff of Air Force Legislative Liaison assisting senior officials preparing for congressional hearings and overseeing responses to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees. He also served with the Operations, Intelligence, and Logistics and the Weapons, Environment, and Technology teams, and, drawing on his military experience and knowledge of military history and weapons, tackled many sensitive and difficult assignments. Layer coordinated BBC and French television documentaries on military operations in Iraq, and, following the release of the film Monuments Men, he coordinated with the Army Museum Support Center to showcase the center's extensive collection of militaria. The resulting major media coverage publicized the need for the national museum for the Army.
Layer was in his Pentagon office on 9/11 during the attack, and shortly thereafter was called to temporary duty to oversee area studies of Central Asia and refugee plans for Iraq. He was mobilized in December 2002 as part of the 352's advance party. In February 2004 he was wounded in an insurgent ambush outside Iskanderia, Iraq. His account of saving artifacts of Iraq's Hashemite monarchy (1923-1958) was featured in Asian Affairs, the journal of the Royal Society of Asian Affairs in 2013. Mr. Layer was retired from the Army in 2007 at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel after 26 years of service in the Active Army, National Guard, and Army Reserve, a career he began as an enlisted man.
Going on to have progressively responsible experience in media and national security, and to publish widely in popular/professional press, Layer held positions as the Legislative Liaison/Congressional Actions Division Secretary of the Air Force; the Media Liaison for the National Guard Bureau; and in the Office of the Chief of Public Affairs – Media Relations: Operations, Intelligence, and Technology. Currently, Layer is a Foreign and Domestic Policy Writer and Media Consultant, publishing articles in Washington Times, Asian Affairs, and Journal of Southwestern Military History, among others.
Layer holds an additional Masters in History from The Ohio State University, as well as a Masters in National Security Studies (with distinction) from the Naval War College. He holds diplomas from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, and the USAF Special Operations School with additional experience in the military police and intelligence areas.
The University of Findlay recognizes William Layer for his dedication to the U.S. Military and for his exceptional career as a writer and historian. The Alumni Association is pleased to name him a 2021 recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award.
Reverend Keith H. Lewis '63 has been named a 2021 recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award.
Upon graduating from then Findlay College in 1963, Lewis enlisted in the United States Air Force, attending Basic Training and Officer Training School at Lackland Air Force Base (AFB). Shortly after, he married his wife, Patricia, and earned his wings after pilot training at Craig AFB.
After service as an F-4 pilot with the 335th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Seymour Johnson AFB, Lewis deployed in 1972 with the 335th at Ubon Royal Thai AFB, until he was forced to eject from his aircraft over North Vietnam and was taken as a Prisoner of War. He spent 177 days in captivity, and Capt. Lewis was released during Operation Homecoming on March 29, 1973. He was briefly hospitalized to recover from his injuries at Andrews AFB, Maryland.
His Bronze Star Medal w/Valor Citation reads, in part:
[Lewis] distinguished himself by heroic actions against an opposing armed force while a Prisoner of War in North Vietnam. With complete disregard for his own safety and personal welfare in a period of severe enemy harassment, this officer took complete care of a seriously wounded fellow prisoner without assistance from the Vietnamese. By his courageous actions and humanitarian regard for his fellow man in an environment of heavy enemy pressure and brutal treatment, he has reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.
Lewis received an Air Force Institute of Technology assignment to complete Theology/Seminary Training from September 1973 to June 1976. He subsequently served as Base Protestant Chaplain with the 3700th Air Base Group at Lackland AFB; as Installation Protestant Chaplain at Ramstein AB in Germany; as Senior Protestant Chaplain at Ellsworth AFB; as Installation Staff Chaplain with the 31st Combat Support Group at Homestead AFB; as Installation Staff Chaplain and 16 AF Chaplain with the 401st Combat Support Group, 401st Tactical Fighter Wing at Torrejon AB in Spain; and then as Center Staff Chaplain at Lowry Training Center, Lowry AFB, until his retirement from the Air Force in 1993.
After retirement, Lewis served as the priest at Saint Mary’s Episcopal Church in Jasper, Alabama, for 13 ½ years, retiring in 2007. In 2010, he was received as a priest in the Anglican Diocese of the South where he serves currently for Good Shepherd Anglican Fellowship.
Additionally, Lewis was appointed in 2020 for a four-year term by Governor Kay Ivey to the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs (ADVA). The ADVA is in charge of all veteran service for the state, and is also responsible for running the VSO in the counties, making sure that veterans get benefits, access to VA hospitals, disability ratings, and compensation. As a result of being the only clergy on the ADVA board, Lewis was recruited to be on the Governor’s Challenge, a committee working on many issues for understanding, veteran suicide, and coming up with strategies to combat veteran suicide.
The University of Findlay recognizes Keith Lewis for his success in the United States Military and his dedication to veterans and the church. The Alumni Association is pleased to name him a Distinguished Alumnus of 2021.
Mrs. Tonya Thorbahn '06 M'10 is a 2021 recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award.
Thorbahn holds two degrees from University of Findlay – a Bachelor of Arts in Intervention Specialist Education from 2006 and a Master of Arts in Education earned in 2010. She holds an additional Master of Education in Learning and Technology from Western Governors University.
As a career educator for Findlay City Schools (FCS), Thorbahn began teaching at Washington Intermediate School as an Intervention Specialist, where among her duties were interpreting building data as a member of the Building Leadership Team, producing a bi-weekly newscast integrated with the Math and Language Arts curriculum, and streamlining the building schedule to benefit students in Special Education.
In 2013, Thorbahn started teaching at Bigelow Hill Intermediate School where she teaches currently. For three years, from 2013 – 2016, she was the Resident Educator Mentor at Bigelow Hill, helping to mentor new teachers within the district, providing support with curriculum and classroom management, and organizing reciprocal teaching observations. During this period and continuing to the present day, she has been the Teaching and Mentoring Intervention Specialist, for which she is facilitator for weekly teacher-based team meetings, coordinator for leadership events and fundraisers within the building Lighthouse Team, and secures funding for the Makerspace and LEGO Robotics team. Additionally, Throbahn successfully executed a district-wide Cardboard Challenge, an event with student-made cardboard creations,
cardboard arcade games, a MAZE, and more.
In addition to her career with FSC, Thorbahn is an adjunct professor for UF’s College of Education, where she teaches courses in Collaboration and Consultation for Special Education, while integrating educational technology concepts and working with students on a “Genius Hour” project, a project that utilizes inquiry-based and student-directed learning.
Thorbahn has received numerous accolades, among them, FCS Teacher of the Week and STEAM Teacher of the Year and Ohio Teacher of the Year District 1, as well as a host of others.
The University of Findlay recognizes Tonya Thorbahn for her dedication to leadership and mentoring and for her exceptional career as an educator. The Alumni Association is pleased to name her a 2021 recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award.