2010 Distinguished Service Award

Alumni and other friends of The Ohio State University are a passionate lot. They remember their Ohio State ties, serving as ambassadors of the university around the world.
John J. “Jack” Chester, Sr. profile picture

John J. “Jack” Chester, Sr.



A nationally respected litigator, Jack Chester has long been a dedicated advocate for his “adopted” university and, in particular, its Moritz College of Law.

Although he holds an undergraduate degree from Amherst College and a law degree from Yale University, he has never failed to serve The Ohio State University when asked. As an active participant in the College of Law’s National Council and the College of Arts and Sciences Advisory Committee, he has given invaluable advice and counsel to university leaders. As a dedicated adjunct professor, he has taught a popular class in pretrial litigation, now in its tenth year, where he generously shares his substantial knowledge and experience concerning case and trial preparation.

He played a leading role in launching Moritz’s Legislation Clinic as well as the college’s Center for Interdisciplinary Law and Policy Studies by hosting events and leveraging his influence as the leading named partner in Chester, Willcox & Saxbe, a law firm of more than 35 attorneys. He played a leading role in helping to complete the Moritz College's Barrister Club  project, and he has personally and through his firm supported a number of university-wide programs, including the College of Humanities, the Athletics Department and WOSU.

Jack was a member of the Ohio House of Representatives from 1953 to 1958 and served as special counsel to the President of the United States in 1974. He is the recipient of the Columbus Bar Association's Professionalism Award, the Ohio State Bar Foundation Honorary Life Fellowship Award and has been named a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers.

John E. (Jack) Lucks, Jr.



Jack Lucks is a founding partner in Columbus-based Continental Real Estate Companies and serves as director of Continental Realty, Continental Building Systems, Continental Office Furniture and Continental Equities Companies.  A 1961 graduate of The Ohio State University in business administration and marketing, he continues to share his considerable business acumen with his alma mater, enabling the university to create new programs and strengthen existing ones.

His counsel on building and renovation projects and his expertise in forging community connections have proven to be invaluable to the university leadership over the past several decades. He served as chair of The Ohio State University Foundation Board of Directors from 2004 to 2009, during which time the university brought in more than $1.2 billion in private support. He currently serves as a member of the Campaign Steering Committee as it plans for the largest fund-raising campaign in university history.

Along with his wife, Cherie, he has been a longtime supporter of the University Medical Center, especially the Heart and Vascular Center, with its pioneering Women's Cardiovascular Health Program, and the Comprehensive Cancer Center-Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute. In addition, he has dedicated his time and support to the Wexner Center for the Arts; the Knowlton School of Architecture; the Fisher College of Business; and the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

John O. Riedl profile picture

John O. Riedl



A distinguished career as an innovative teacher of mathematics, sensitive administrator and forward-looking regional campus dean and director distinguishes John O. Riedl’s more than four decades of service to the Ohio State University.

After joining the Ohio State mathematics faculty in 1966, he quickly became a leader in developing and teaching both an honors program in the discipline as well as an intensive introductory course for less prepared students. His commitment to the needs of all undergraduates led to his appointment as assistant, then associate dean of the College of Mathematics and Physical Sciences, where he eventually served as acting dean for two years.

In 1987, he was appointed dean and director of the university's Mansfield Campus. Under his leadership, the Mansfield Campus achieved a stable budget and completed a successful capital campaign, enabling the creation of new endowed scholarships, a faculty development endowment, a business program and a new learning center. He led the completion of a campus master plan, established new academic majors, partnered with the MedCentral College of Nursing is establishing a baccalaureate program, and developed an exchange of services agreement with 22 local schools, among numerous other accomplishments. Following his 2003 retirement, he has remained actively involved with the Ohio State Richland County Alumni Club and continues to teach mathematics at the Mansfield Campus.

Chris Spielman profile picture

Chris Spielman



Chris Spielman first inspired Ohio State football fans more than decade ago with his skill as a Buckeye All-American linebacker and winner of the Lombardi Trophy. But it is his devotion to his wife, Stefanie, as she battled breast cancer, that continues to inspire all who know him.

A highly recruited high school football player, the Canton, Ohio native chose to come to Ohio State to play for Earle Bruce. During his college football career, he was a two-time All-American and a three-time All-Big Ten selection as best college football lineman. He still holds the Buckeyes' record as the career leader in tackles. In 1988, after graduating from Ohio State, he was drafted by the Detroit Lions, playing with them for eight seasons. He subsequently played with the Buffalo Bills and the Cleveland Browns before retiring in 1999 with a serious neck injury. He has been a college football game analyst for ESPN since 2001.

When Stefanie's breast cancer was discovered in 1998, Chris chose to forego the Buffalo Bills' 1998 season to support his wife, shaving his own head as she lost her hair during chemotherapy. Together, Stefanie and Chris launched The Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research at Ohio State's Comprehensive Cancer Center - James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute. Recognizing the importance of a strong caregiver to a patient battling cancer, the couple formed Stefanie's Champions to benefit The Stefanie Spielman Patient Assistance Fund as well as the research fund.

Throughout his wife's illness, Chris never refused an opportunity to increase public awareness of cancer and to promote the critical importance of medical research. He continues to use his public persona unselfishly to continue the fight so important to his late wife.

Stefanie Spielman profile picture

Stefanie Spielman



Stefanie Spielman is without peer in her courageous and selfless dedication to a cause. During her too-short lifetime, she touched countless lives throughout Ohio and beyond with her grace and compassion.

In 1998, after being diagnosed with breast cancer, Stefanie and her husband, Chris, decided to go public with her illness and use their prominence in the community to draw attention to the disease and the need for medical research. The couple launched The Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research in partnership with Big Bear grocery stores, hoping to raise $250,000 for Ohio State's Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Center. Within a short time, the fund raised $1 million and, over the next decade, the Spielmans raised more than $6 million for cancer research.

Inspired by the devoted care she received from Chris, Stefanie formed Stefanie's Champions, a fund-raising event to honor other caregivers of cancer survivors. The event, now in its 10th year, has raised more than $1 million for The Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research. She also created The Stefanie Spielman Patient Assistance Fund to help breast cancer patients and their families who are struggling financially. In 2002, she was inducted into the Ohio Women's Hall of Fame for her work.

Despite enduring four bouts of cancer recurrence, Stefanie continued to promote breast cancer awareness and support through personal public appearances, speaking engagements, media interviews, endorsements and, along with Chris, personal financial support. She leaves a legacy of hope and caring.

Ellen Tressel profile picture

Ellen Tressel



Ellen Tressel's belief that a world-class library is the heart of a learning community was manifested in her leadership during the campaign for the renovation of Ohio State's William Oxley Thompson Library. With her husband, Coach Jim Tressel, she worked tirelessly to secure support for the magnificent structure that now stands at the head of the Oval.

As campaign co-chair, Ellen gave speeches, hosted events, suggested names and visited prospective donors, and even taped a televised tour of the renovated facility. In addition, she and her husband have been generous in their personal support of the Thompson Library.

She has been an equally enthusiastic volunteer in an effort to raise funds and awareness for the James Cancer Center and Solove Research Institute, serving as honorary co-chair for the Power to Change Lives Campaign that helped raise more than $104 million to support cancer research and expansion programs. She also makes weekly rounds with the Buckeyes football team to offer encouragement to cancer patients at The James. A frequent speaker to community groups, she donates her honoraria to the Tressel Family Fund for Cancer Research and Prevention.

Her community involvement is far-reaching and includes Nationwide Children's Hospital. the Ronald McDonald House, the Alzheimer's Association of Central Ohio, the Mount Carmel College of Nursing, the Youngstown State Minority Student Endowment, the fellowship of Christian Athletes, Athletes in Action, the American Federation of Aging Research and her alma mater, Youngstown State University.

William D. Wells profile picture

William D. Wells



William D. Wells is president and CEO of Davis & Son, Inc., a Westerville-based company that develops. builds and maintains family houses and commercial properties. He serves as chairman of the Davis Foundation, and, as nephew of Dorothy M. Davis and caretaker of her legacy, he has made a profound difference at The Ohio State University, both as a thoughtful member of the University Foundation Board and as an engaged advocate for the university's mission.

A member of the Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital Board, Bill has been a strong supporter of Ohio State's Heart and Vascular Center, helping to strengthen heart health research through the Dorothy M. Davis Heart and Lung Research Institute. In addition, Bill is a longtime supporter of the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research Fund and of Stefanie's Champions serving with his wife, Jackie, as the first honorary co-chairs of the now 10-year old cancer patient support event.

A love of athletics, especially baseball,  inspired Bill and the Davis Foundation to play a leading role in building the William E. Davis Stadium, one of the premier collegiate baseball facilities in the nation. The Wells have also endowed two baseball scholarships for Ohio State's student athletes. Their support extends to the Fisher College of Business, where the Davis Chair in the college's Center for Entrepreneurship supports university-wide collaboration and involvement among students and faculty.

Virginia Zirkle profile picture

Virginia Zirkle



Virginia Zirkle is known in Ohio's Putnam County as an "Ohio State legend," a title that befits her 60 decades of service to her alma mater.

A 1945 graduate of Ohio State, Virginia worked briefly as a teacher before joining the Putnam County Ohio State Extension as a home economist in 1947, where she remained until her 1988 retirement. In 1978, she was attained the rank of full professor, one of the first so named without having a doctoral degree. Fiercely proud of Ohio State's land grant mission, she encouraged countless first generation college students to pursue higher education at Ohio State and its Lima Campus. She played a leading role in establishing the Putnam County Educational Service Center, where students can enroll on Ohio State classes throughout the year before attending Ohio State Lima or the Columbus campus.

She backed up her strong belief in the university with her generous support for student scholarships and the new Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center on the Columbus campus. She was a member of the Putnam County Alumni Club since 1945, becoming its permanent secretary in 1975, and was an active committee member of the College of Home Economics and Human Ecology. Despite her retirement of more than 20 years, she remained an engaged volunteer for her university and her community until her death in January 2010.

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