During Homecoming and Family Weekend 2021, University of Findlay’s Alumni Association recognized nine alumni, faculty, and staff members who exemplify the values, ethics, and mission of the University.
Those who were awarded were:
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 for 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.
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.
As part of Whitson Properties, the family business, Whitson was among the finest examples of philanthropy toward the University. The Whiston family helped create scholarships and sponsored 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.
Bret M. Bahn, 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.
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 enlisted in the Navy and served three years in active-duty service. After enlisting, he 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, MD. 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 different types of injections and procedures.
Mr. Eugene A. Fernandez has been named a recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award for 2021.
Fernandez is a two-time graduate of Findlay College/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-one 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.
Lieutenant Colonel William J. Layer 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, 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 and served with the Operations, Intelligence, and Logistics and the Weapons, Environment, and Technology teams, and tackled many sensitive and difficult assignments. 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.
Reverend Keith H. Lewis has been named a 2021 recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award.
Upon graduating from Findlay College/University of Findlay in 1963, Lewis enlisted in the United States Air Force, attending Basic Training and Officer Training School at Lackland Air Force Base (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. He received a Bronze Star Medal with Valor.
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, AL, 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.
Mrs. Tonya Thorbahn 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. During this period and continuing to the present day, she has been the Teaching and Mentoring Intervention Specialist.
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.
Ms. Nondace N. Campbell, University of Findlay assistant professor of reading, emerita, 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, 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.
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.
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, KY, Davis joined the service as a young radioman in the United States Navy. He 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 providing both inpatient and outpatient primary
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.