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Old Dominion University will present Distinguished Alumni Awards to six graduates today at the annual Founders' Day luncheon in the Ted Constant Convocation Center.

The program will also include the presentation of the ODU Community Service Award, the Town-N-Gown Rita M. Costello Community Service Awards, the Albert B. "Buck" Gornto Jr. Regional Service Award and the Distinguished Entrepreneurial Award.

The Distinguished Alumni Awards are given to ODU graduates in recognition of outstanding service to the community, state, nation or mankind, or for outstanding accomplishments in their profession. Those being honored are:

• Maj. Gen. John Bednarek '75, biology - commander of the Army's 25th Infantry Division in Hawaii. Bednarek is a product of the ODU Army ROTC Battalion. He later completed a master's in personnel management from Troy State University and has attended the Army War College.

• Michael A. Franklin '95, health sciences - president and CEO of Atlantic General Hospital Corp. in Berlin, Md. continued his education at Virginia Commonwealth University, graduating in 2001 with a master's degree in health administration.

• Larry Kittelberger (M.B.A. '75) - senior vice president, technology and operations, Honeywell Corp. Kittelberger earned a bachelor's degree in computer science from Pennsylvania State University. In 1997, as a result of his dedication to the Virginia Council on Information Management and his efforts to improve Virginia, Gov. George Allen declared Feb. 18 as Larry Kittelberger Day.

• Shamina Singh '91, political science - chief operating officer and director of communications and strategy for Citi's Global Community Relations Division. Singh earned a graduate degree from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, Austin.

• George T. Singley III (M.E. '77), mechanical engineering - member of the Commission on Army Acquisition and Program Management in Expeditionary Operations and a vice chairman of the Association of the U.S. Army and consultant to the Army Science Board. Singley received an M.B.A. from the College of William and Mary and B.E.A. in mechanical engineering from the University of Delaware.

• Tommy Smigiel '00, interdisciplinary studies-elementary/middle school education - assistant principal at Granby High School in Norfolk. In 2007, Smigiel was selected as Norfolk Public Schools' Teacher of the Year while on the teaching staff at Norfolk's Norview High School. He subsequently was named 2008 Virginia Teacher of the Year and was one of four finalists for National Teacher of the Year honors.

Old Dominion University Community Service Award

The Old Dominion University Community Service Award will be presented to Donald J.P. Swift, eminent scholar of ocean, earth and atmospheric sciences at ODU. Swift has been a professor at the university, on two different occasions, for a total of 25 years.

Swift was inspired to become a community service activist when he worked with a handyman, David Hoover, on fixing up Swift's home. When Hoover failed to come to work one day, Swift learned that it was because he was in prison. Since Hoover had no family, Swift kept in contact with him. The first thing that Hoover requested was a subscription to The Virginian-Pilot so that he could teach other inmates to read; Swift obliged. What started as a little program gained the approval of the authorities, and expanded in scope as The Sondra Ford Swift Self-Improvement Program. The name was Hoover's idea, after he learned about the death of Swift's wife.

Swift holds the Slover Chair of Oceanography and has been designated as an eminent professor. He has been awarded the F.P. Shepard Medal for excellence in Marine Geology.

Town-N-Gown Rita M. Costello Community Service Awards

The Town-N-Gown Rita M. Costello Community Service Awards recognize individuals from many aspects of the larger community who have demonstrated unusual concern for and commitment to serving others. This year's recipients are:

Jerry A. Bridges

Bridges was appointed executive director of the Virginia Port Authority (VPA) by the Board of Commissioners and took office on Feb. 5, 2007. He is responsible for the broad programmatic areas of marketing, development, finance and promotion of Virginia's marine terminal facilities located in the Hampton Roads harbor - Newport News Marine Terminal, Norfolk International Terminals and Portsmouth Marine Terminal - and the Virginia Inland Terminal located in Warren County, Va.

Prior to his arrival at the VPA, Bridges served as executive director of the Port of Oakland. He was responsible for the overall operations, management and financial performance of the Port of Oakland's three lines of business at the Oakland International Airport, the Oakland Seaport and extensive commercial real estate holdings.

Bridges currently serves on the board of directors of Virginia International Terminals Inc., Hampton Roads Partnership board of directors and executive committee, Greater Norfolk Corporation executive committee, Chrysler Museum of Art board of trustees, ODU Executive Advisory Council and the Norfolk Education Foundation board of directors.

Bridges served 20 years as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps in active/reserve status and received his bachelor's degree in social sciences from Appalachian State University.

Beverly K. Sell

Sell, a native of Portsmouth, serves as coordinator for Five Points Partnership Inc., a coalition of citizens, businesses, churches, schools and city public safety representatives that works toward revitalizing the Norview area of Norfolk. The corporation opened the Five Points Community Farm Market with the intention of providing a gathering place where Norview residents could feel a sense of belonging and community identity. Due to these efforts, the nonprofit corporation won the Ernie Morgan Action Award and the Community Farm Market won the Virginia Neighborhood of the Year award in 2004.

In 2002, Portfolio selected Sell as one of Hampton Roads' Most Influential People, and she received the 2003 Jefferson Award for voluntary service to Hampton Roads and the NAACP Martin Luther King Award in 2006. She is president of Alumni & Friends of Cradock, board member of Cradock Preservation and Revitalization, and co-founder and board member of Norfolk United Facing Race, which holds small-group dialogues on race, reconciliation and respect.

Sell also serves as president of Sell & Reese Marketing Inc., an advertising, marketing strategies and event planning company that specializes in small and medium-size businesses.

She studied communicative arts at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Albert B. "Buck" Gornto Jr. Regional Service Award

The Albert B. "Buck" Gornto Jr. Regional Service Award is given to an individual who has shown outstanding commitment and service to this region of the commonwealth. This year's recipient is E. Dana Dickens III.

Dickens was appointed president and CEO of the Hampton Roads Partnership in 2005. Previously, he was the president/owner of First Service Insurance, providing life and health insurance, retirement services and accident insurance for public schools in Virginia.

Dickens has a distinguished background in public service in Hampton Roads, having served as vice chairman on the Suffolk Planning Commission and chair of the Subcommittee on Ordinances. Later he successfully ran for Suffolk City Council and became the first ever "rookie" councilman elected mayor. He served two terms as mayor of the city of Suffolk.

Dickens served on the board and executive committee of the Hampton Roads Partnership prior to being appointed as its third president. He also sat on the executive committee of the Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance and served as vice chair of the Mayors and Chairs Caucus of Hampton Roads.

His other leadership positions include serving as chair of the Western Tidewater Water Authority and chair of the High Growth Coalition. He also sits on the boards of the Virginia High Speed Rail Development Committee and the Urban Land Institute.

Selected by the Rotary Club as Suffolk First Citizen in 2003, Dickens was also presented the award of excellence for the Local Government Elected Official From a City With Population Over 50,000 at the 2003 Annual Conference of the Virginia Downtown Development Association. The Virginia chapter of the American Planning Association selected him for its 2004 Leadership Award for Excellence in Virginia Planning. Dickens also served on the Virginia Municipal League's Legislative Committee and chaired the VML Finance Committee.

In 2006, Gov. Timothy Kaine appointed Dickens to the Commonwealth Transportation Board.

Distinguished Entrepreneurial Award

The Distinguished Entrepreneurial Award is presented in recognition of individuals who, through their creative spirit and entrepreneurial leadership, have strengthened the vitality and progress of the Hampton Roads business and educational communities. This year's recipient is Luke M. Hillier '94

Hillier is chairman of the board and chief executive officer of ADS Inc., one of the nation's leading special and tactical operations equipment providers for the Department of Defense and other federal agencies. He oversees both East and West Coast operations with a workforce of more than 200 and annual sales of $588 million.

In 1999, Hillier founded Mythics Inc., the largest Oracle software reseller, an Oracle-based information system solutions provider, and served as chief executive officer. He grew Mythics from a garage startup with no employees into the dominant Oracle solutions provider with more than 100 employees and annual sales exceeding $250 million. In 2004, Mythics won Oracle's Partner of the Year Award. Hillier is currently its chairman of the board.

A Virginia Beach native, Hillier graduated from Old Dominion University in 1994 with a bachelor's degree in financial management. He remains active with ODU's College of Business and Public Administration, serving as vice chair of its Executive Advisory Council, and was a featured speaker in the 2006 Landmark Executive-in-Residence Speaker Series. A devoted supporter of ODU's football program, he established the Luke Hillier Endowed Football Scholarship.

Hillier is a member of Young Entrepreneurs Organization of Hampton Roads, the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce and the National Government Contractors Association.

This article was posted on: October 10, 2008

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