Lifetime Achievement Award

LAA Winners

(pictured above) David Housel, Mike Warren, Melissa Herkt, and Sam Ginn receive their medals representing Auburn University Alumni Association's 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award during a ceremony Saturday, March 14, 2015, at The Hotel at Auburn University & Dixon Conference Center.

The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes recipients for outstanding achievements in their professional lives, personal integrity and stature, and service to the university. It was established in 2001 to honor extraordinary accomplishments by members of the Auburn family. Recipients of Lifetime Achievement Awards are selected by a committee of Auburn administrators, trustees, faculty and alumni.

This year’s recipients are 1959 graduate Sam Ginn, pioneer of the wireless industry.; 1977 graduate Melissa Herkt, leader for women in the engineering world; 1969 graduate David Housel, former Athletic Director for Auburn University and Auburn man, and 1968 graduate Mike Warren, president and CEO of Children’s of Alabama.

A Press Release is available for download.

Photographs from the event are available for purchase at this link.

2015 Lifetime Achievement Award Winners

Sam GinnSam Ginn Class of 1959

Auburn University Bachelor of Science, Industrial Management; Master of Business Administration, Stanford University (1969); Honorary D.S., Auburn University (1998)

Sam Ginn has more than 42 years of experience in the telecommunications industry. After graduating from Auburn in 1959 with a degree in industrial management, he served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps. Ginn began his career in 1960 with AT&T as a student engineer. His early years at AT&T led him to increasing responsibilities in sales, engineering and operations. Ginn was transferred to California in a time of upheaval in telecommunications. Out of that upheaval came the creation of the wireless industry, where Ginn became founder, chair and CEO of AirTouch Communications, which later merged with Vodafone to become the world’s largest wireless communications company. Since the merger, Ginn has been active in charitable boards, startup companies and is chairman of the Ginn Family Foundation. In addition, Ginn made a gift of $25 million to Auburn University to establish an undergraduate degree program in wireless engineering, the first accredited wireless engineering degree program in the country. This accreditation was received because Ginn assembled an advisory board composed of executives from most of the major telecommunications companies who helped provide direction when the program was being developed and who continue to be involved in guiding the program and helping to insure the curriculum remains on the cutting edge. The College of Engineering is now the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering in his honor. In addition to his major contributions to the wireless engineering program, Ginn co-chaired Auburn’s last major fundraising campaign, during which the university raised $609 million, the largest campaign amount in the school’s history. In 2012, Ginn was appointed as the first chairman of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), an organization designated by congress to build a nationwide mobile broadband network for first responders. In 1992, Ginn was inducted into the State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame and just this year, he was named to the Wireless Hall of Fame Class of 2014 by the Wireless History Foundation (WHF). Ginn was given engineering’s Distinguished Alumni award in 2004 and he has served on the board of trustees for the university. Ginn and his wife, Ann, reside in Hillsborough, Calif., and they have three children and six grandchildren. Sam is a life member of the Auburn Alumni Association.

Melissa HerktMelissa Brown Herkt Class of 1977

Auburn University Bachelor of Science, Civil Engineering

Melissa Herkt entered the male-dominated field of engineering in 1977 and quickly began breaking the barriers to help pave the way for women in civil engineering. She was the first female co-op student and worked for Alabama Power for three quarters. Following graduation from Auburn, she was hired by Exxon, where she became the first female engineer posted overseas. In that post, she was a construction engineer on a $30 million project in Denmark. This post led her to head up several billion-dollar operations in both North and South America. She was then appointed as the first female construction manager for Exxon, where she led a $300 million refinery expansion in France and a $400 million project in the UK and Denmark. Herkt has spent a great deal of her career rising in the ranks and breaking new boundaries. She served as president of Process Systems and Solutions – Americas, a division of Emerson Process Management, one of the largest and most respected engineering companies in the world. Herkt was responsible for a half-dozen vital industries approaching $900 million in annual revenue. She oversaw 4,000 employees and provided cutting-edge process-improvement solutions. Honors include induction into the National Academy of Construction in 2009 and the State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame in 2008. Herkt continues to provide for students at Auburn University through the Melissa Brown Herkt Endowment for scholarships in civil engineering. She also is actively involved with engineering student outreach and has traveled with student teams to Bolivia twice. Herkt is part of the Auburn Alumni Engineering Council, which assesses and reviews processes used in each engineering department, and contributions through that committee have significantly strengthened the college’s academic programs. Herkt received the Construction Industry Institute’s 2004 Outstanding Implementer Award; she serves on the CII executive committee and is the past director of Mascaro Sustainability Institute, promoting green construction. She has received outstanding alumni awards from Gadsden State, Auburn University and the Chancellor of Alabama’s college system. In 2014, she was selected to serve on the AU Foundation Board. Herkt resides in Round Rock, Texas. She is a life member of the Auburn Alumni Association.

David HouselDavid Housel Class of 1969

Auburn University Bachelor of Arts, Journalism

David Housel graduated from Auburn University in 1969 with a BA degree in journalism from the College of Liberal Arts. After working for the athletic ticket office from 1970-1972, he was an instructor in the journalism department and advisor to the Auburn Plainsman from 1972 until 1980. He then rejoined the athletic staff as assistant sports information director, and went on to become sports information director in 1981 and assistant athletic director for the university in 1985. Housel became Auburn’s 13th Director of Athletics in April of 1994, and set standards to evaluate and measure the department’s competitive success, fiscal responsibility, rules compliance, and academic success of student-athletes during his 10-year tenure. Under his leadership, the Tigers won eight national titles, 38 SEC titles and added softball and equestrian to the sports roster at the university. Student-athletes during his tenure posted their highest graduation rates in school history and a number of athletic facility improvements were added to campus, including the construction of Samford Stadium at Plainsman Park, Jane B. Moore Field, the Lovelace Museum, the McWhorter Center for Women’s Athletics, and the Tatum Strength and Conditioning Center. Housel was named director of athletics emeritus upon his retirement from the director position in 2005. During his career, he has served as president of the SEC Sports Information Directors, chair of both the NCAA public relations and communications committees, a member of both the NCAA Championships Cabinet and Executive Committee of the Southeastern Conference and worked 18 consecutive Final Four tournaments at the request of the NCAA. Along with his positions in committees in the NCAA and SEC, Housel also served as chair of the dean’s council for Auburn University’s College of Liberal Arts. For his significant contributions to the field of sports communication, Housel has been awarded membership in the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, the Sports Information Directors Hall of Fame and has received distinguished service awards from the Walter Camp Football Foundation and the Alabama chapter of the National Football Hall of Fame. He is an honorary member of the Auburn Football Letterman’s Club and University Singers and received the Coach Jack Meagher Award at Auburn in 2011 for making significant contributions to society through athletics. In addition to these awards, in 2005, the press box in Jordan-Hare Stadium was officially named the David E. Housel Press Box. Housel has authored five books, including Saturdays to Remember (1973), Auburn University Football Vault (2007) and his 2014 publication, Auburn University Flashback: The History of the Tigers. Housel and his wife, Susan ’73, live in Auburn. He is a life member of the Auburn Alumni Association.

Mike WarrenMike Warren Class of 1968

Auburn University Bachelor of Arts, History; J.D., Duke University (1971); J.D., Birmingham Southern University (2003)

After graduating from Auburn and attending law school at Duke University, Mike Warren began his career practicing law with the Birmingham firm of Bradley, Arant, Rose & White for 12 years before joining Alabama Gas in 1983. Warren became president of Alagasco in 1984 and was named president and CEO of Energen in 1997, and chair in 1998. Under Warren’s leadership, Alagasco was named one of the 100 best companies to work for in America in the book by the same name and the Fortune magazine annual listing for two years. In 2001, Warren was named Alabama CEO of the year by The Birmingham News and in 2008, he was named president and CEO of Children’s of Alabama, the state’s only free-standing pediatric medical facility. Warren has been involved in many state and local efforts and served as chair of the Business Council of Alabama, the United Way, Leadership Birmingham and Leadership Alabama. He has also chaired the Metropolitan Development Board, the Alabama Symphony and his area American Heart Association. He has had a pivotal role in helping with the establishment of and fundraising for the Provost Leadership Undergraduate Scholarship Program (PLUS) at Auburn, a program that provides scholarships to deserving minority students. He and his family have established the William Michael Warren Endowed Undergraduate Student Leadership Awards in the College of Agriculture’s Department of Animal Sciences to honor his father, a longtime faculty member, and to support animal sciences students who demonstrate both academic excellence and leadership. In 2012, the Greater Birmingham Auburn Club awarded Warren the title of Distinguished Alumnus of the Year and just recently, Warren was selected as Birmingham’s Game Changer at The Vulcans, given by the Vulcan Park & Museum. Warren and his wife, Anne, live in Birmingham and have three children. He is a life member of the Auburn Alumni Association.

Previous Award Winners

2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 and Prior

Young Alumni Achievement

Young Alumni Achievement Award

The Young Alumni Achievement Award, sponsored by the Office of Alumni Affairs, has been created to recognize extraordinary accomplishments by members of the Auburn family. One recipient will be recognized each year for significant achievement in his/her professional life and/or for distinguished community service. The award will be presented as part of the annual Lifetime Achievement Awards Banquet and Ceremony held in March.

2015 YAAA Winner

J. Benjamin Chappell Class of 2003

Raymond J. Harbert College of Business

Ben Chappell is the owner and principal of Interior Elements, a contract furniture dealership based in Jackson, Mississippi, which represents elite manufactures Knoll, DIRTT, Kimball, and KI. In 2010, Chappell became the youngest principal of a Knoll-aligned dealership in the world. Merging a rep group he founded in Birmingham, Alabama with Interior Elements of Mississippi and expanding into Tennessee and Georgia. Chappell has formed one of the largest contract furniture dealerships in the Southeast with IE’s four-state footprint. Chappell has planned and executed the interiors packages for numerous capital projects, including the University of Mississippi, Mississippi State University, the University of Alabama, the University of Alabama – Birmingham (UAB), Auburn University, Florida State University, UAB Hospital, Children’s Hospital of Alabama, University of Mississippi Medical Center, Baptist Health Systems (Jackson, Miss.), Retirement Systems of Alabama (RSA), the Alabama National Guard, Comcast, C Spire, Trustmark Bank, and numerous K-12 systems throughout the Southeast, including the largest in Alabama: Mobile County (Ala.) Public Schools. Chappell sits on the Advisory Board of Directors for the Mississippi State University School of Architecture and the Advisory Board of Directors for the Auburn University Interior Design program, which has been recognized as one of the top five interior design programs in the nation. Chappell sponsors two scholarships to the Raymond J. Harbert College of Business at Auburn University and two additional scholarships to Auburn University’s Interior Design program in the College of Human Sciences. He has served on the Board of Directors of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) for both the Delta Regional Chapter and the Alabama Chapter, in addition to the Board of Directors for the Young Business Leaders of Jackson. Chappell also helps fund the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Mississippi. He graduated from Auburn University with a bachelor’s degree in finance and in May 2014, Chappell received an Executive MBA from Auburn University. He and his wife, the former Anna Donaldson of Jasper, have two children.

Previous Award Winners

2013 | 2012 | 2011


Alumni Professor Award

Twenty-five, five-year non-renewable Alumni Professorships are sponsored by the Auburn Alumni Association, with funds endowed from annual giving. The Alumni Writer-in-Residence, a creative writer from the English faculty, is the only ongoing appointment. The Professorships carry an annual $3,500 salary supplement. The Vice President for Academic Affairs/Provost calls for nominations from department heads through deans. The awards are presented on the basis of research, publishing, and teaching.

2014 Alumni Professors

Ellen Behrend

Ellen Behrend

Clinical Sciences
College of Veterinary Medicine


Virginia Davis

Virginia Davis

Chemical Engineering
Samuel Ginn College of Engineering


Lisa Samuelson

Lisa Samuelson

Tree Physiology
School of Forestry & Wildlife Sciences

Peter Johnson

Peter Johnson

Mathematics and Statistics
College of Sciences & Mathematics

Valentina Hartarska

Valentina Hartarska

Agriculture Economics
College of Agriculture

Current Alumni Professors

Art Chappelka
Forestry and Wildlife

Daniel Kim
Mechanical Engineering

Yu Lin

Nannan Liu
Entomology and Plant Pathology

Haroldo Toro
Veterinary Pathobiology

D. Allen Davis
Fisheries & Allied Aquacultures

Henry Kinnucan
Ag. Econ & Rural Sociology

Margaret Ross
Educational Found., Leadership & Technology

Herbert Jack Rotfeld

Chris Correia

Drew Hamilton
Computer Science and Software Engineering

Jay M. Khodadadi
Mechanical Engineering

Tin-Man Lau
Industrial Design

Kenneth W. Noe

Frank Bartol | Email
Anatomy, Physiology & Pharmacology

Curtis M. Jolly | Email
Agricultural Economics & Rural Sociology

Mary T. Mendonca | Email
Biological Sciences

Subhash C. Sinha | Email
Mechanical Engineering

Wei Wang | Email
Industrial Design

Mark G. Steltenpohl | Email
Geology & Geography

Susan Brinson
Communication & Journalism

Steve Duke
Chemical Engineering

M. Daniel Givens

John W. Saye, Jr.
Curriculum & Teaching

Joey Shaw
Agronomy and Soils

Henry Fadamiro
Entomology and Plant Pathology

Narendra K. Govil
Mathematics and Statistics

Aleksandr Simonian
Mechanical Engineering

Bill Trimble

Daowei Zhang
Forestry and Wildlife Sciences

Chantel Acevedo*
English - Alumni Writer-in-Residence

*Alumni Writer-in-Residence (may be renewed at the end of five years)


The Distinguished Graduate Faculty Lectureship

Jointly sponsored by the Auburn Alumni Association and the AU Graduate School, the Distinguished Graduate Faculty Lectureship Award carries with it a $2,000 award from the Alumni Association. The recipients are nominated by deans, department heads, etc. and chosen by the Graduate Faculty Council on the basis of excellence in research.

The 2014 Distinguished Graduate Faculty Lectureship Recipient

Paula R. Backscheider, Philpott-Stevens Eminent Scholar, specializes in Restoration and eighteenth-century literature, feminist criticism, and cultural studies. She is the author of several books including Daniel Defoe: His Life (winner of the British Council Prize), Spectacular Politics, Reflections on Biography, and Eighteenth-Century Women Poets and their Poetry: Inventing Agency, Inventing Genre (winner of the Modern Language Association Lowell Prize). Two of her books have been selected for the Choice Outstanding Academic Book award. She has published articles in PMLA, Theatre Journal, ELH, and many other journals.

A former president of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, she has held ACLS, NEH, and Guggenheim Fellowships and is one of the few American members of the Institute for Advanced Studies, University of Edinburgh. Her most recent book is Elizabeth Singer Rowe and the Development of the English Novel. An award-winning teacher, she is dedicated to discussion courses and creating an atmosphere in which students can be themselves and feel free to take risks.


Minority Achievement Award

Thank you for your support of our great faculty and staff. This award honors an individual of any race or ethnic background whose efforts have attracted minority students to AU and/or whose efforts have contributed to the success, retention and graduation rates of minority students at AU. Additionally, this award honors an individual who has contributed to improved race relations and fostered a sense of community within the university. The recipient will be presented $1,000 and a plaque.

2014 Minority Achievement Award Winner

Robin Sabino | Website
English, College of Liberal Arts

Robin Sabino is a Professor at in the English Department at Auburn University where she directs the Department’s Undergraduate Studies Program. She is also the Director of the Africana Studies Program in the College of Liberal Arts. Her research focuses on language contact, variation and change. Ongoing projects include exploration of variationist models, multilingualism, continued development self-instructional materials for Tsalagi, and a descriptive study of monophthongization in Apalachicola, FL. Recent publications include Language Contact in the Danish West Indies: Giving Jack His Jacket (Brill 2012) and “The A-curve and Personally Patterned Variation: More Tools for Investigating Language Variation and Change” (American Speech).

The Auburn Alumni Association recognizes one Minority Achievement Award recipient each year.

Previous Recipients

Rosephanye Dunn-Powell
College of Liberal Arts

Jared Russell
College of Education

Dr. Carla Jackson Bell
College of Architecture Design and Construction

Nels Madsen



Shirley Scott-Harris


Cal Clark
Political Science

Curtis M. Jolly
Agricultural Economics

Juan E. Gilbert
Computer Science & Software Engineering


William Powell

Vivian M. Larkin
Rehabilitation and
Special Education

Overtoun Jenda
Discrete and Statistical Sciences

Dennis W. Weatherby
Minority Engineering Program


Undergraduate Teaching Excellence Award

This award is given to teachers who are exceptional in their quality of teaching, knowledge of subject,interest in students and availability to them, impact on the nominator's personal educational experience, and influence within Auburn University. Teachers are nominated by students, alumni, and colleagues.Recipients are honored each year and each receive an honorarium award of $1,000 and a plaque.

2014 Award Recipients

Brian Connelly

Brian Connelly

Business Management
Harbert College of Business


Stephen Schmidt

Stephen Schmidt

Animal Sciences
College of Agriculture


Rod Turochy

Rod Turochy

Civil Engineering
Samuel Ginn College of Engineering

Previous Recipients


Christy L. Bratcher: Agriculture

Sang-Eun Byun: Human Sciences

Jill Crystal: Liberal Arts


Robert S. Boyd: Sciences and Mathematics

Shelly McKee: Agriculture

Karla Simmons: Human Sciences


Sridhar Krishnamurti: Liberal Arts

Veena Chattaraman: Human Sciences

Jung Won Hur: Education


Stuart Wentworth:Engineering

Wheeler Foshee: Horticulture

Theresa McCormick: Education


Carolyn Robinson: Horticulture

Shari Park-Gates: Consumer Affairs

Ted Becker: Political Science



Kelly Bryant: Graphic Design

Joey Shaw: Agronomy & Soils

Ed Williams: Communication & Journalism


Mark Byrne: Chemical Engineering

Elizabeth Brestan Knight: Psychology

Phillip Zenor: Mathematics & Statistics


Brian Gibson: Aviation Managemen

Sheri Brock: Health & Human Performance

Paula Peek: Consumer Affairs


Jack B. Brown: Mathematics & Statistics

William J. Moar: Entomology & Plant Pathology

Christine Sundermann: Biological Sciences


Roger Lien: Poultry Science

Pamela V. Ulrich: Consumer Affairs



James E. Brown: Horticulture

Steven P. Brown: Political Science

Margaret Fitch-Hauser: Communication & Journalism

Susan Hubbard: Nutrition & Food Science

Nels Madsen: Mechanical Engineering

Gary Waters: Finance


Louise Katainen: Foreign Languages & Literatures

Russell B. Muntifering: Animal & Dairy Sciences

Marilyn Read: Consumer Affairs

Douglas Robinson: Science & Mathematics

David Williams: Horticulture


Clarence D. Brown, Jr.: Rehabilitation & Special Education

Wayne E. Clark: Entomology & Plant Pathology

Lenda Jo Anderson Connell: Consumer Affairs

William Hardy, Jr.: Agricultural Economics

Kelley D. Jolley: Philosophy

Mary T. Mendonca: Biological Sciences

1999–1987 Recipients (pdf)

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