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Old Dominion University will present Distinguished Alumni Awards to seven former students Oct. 20 at the annual Founders' Day luncheon in the Ted Constant Convocation Center.

The program will also include the presentation of the Batten Award, given in recognition of philanthropic leadership; two Town-N-Gown Community Service Awards; and the Albert B. "Buck" Gornto Jr. Regional Service Award.

This year's distinguished alumni are:

• Alphonso V. Diaz (M.S. '70) - Diaz, who earned his master's in physics, became vice chancellor for administration at the University of California, Riverside, in January 2006 after a full career with NASA, which included a position as director of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

• Rear Adm. Charles H. Griffiths Jr. (M.E.M. '05) - Following a distinguished career in the U.S. Navy, Griffiths joined Raytheon in 2002, where he currently is director of strategy and business development for maritime mission systems in Integrated Defense Systems. His master's degree is in engineering management.

• Lenore E. Hart (M.F.A. '00) - Hart is the author of several novels, including "Ordinary Springs" and "Waterwoman," a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Authors selection. Her first young-adult novel, "The Treasure of Savage Island," was published in 2005. She is a professor in the master's program for creative writing at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

• Linda L. Lilley (M.S. '84) - Lilley's teaching experience spans 25 years, with the last 18 in the ODU School of Nursing. Now an associate professor emerita, she is finishing the fifth edition of "Pharmacology and the Nursing Process," for which she is the lead author. Lilley also serves as an editorial contributor for articles submitted to the American Journal of Nursing.

• Thomas J. Murphy '83 - Murphy is CEO of Athena Design Systems Inc., based in Santa Clara, Calif. The company tackles the problems that come with packing more and smaller transistors on a semiconductor. He joined Athena in 2005 after 12 years at Cadence Design Systems, the world's largest chip-designing software company. He is the inventor of clock-tree synthesis, a process to improve chip performance. Murphy received his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering.

• Deborah K. Stearns '80 - Stearns, who joined Advantis/GVA in 1975, currently oversees three offices in Norfolk, Newport News and Richmond, offering brokerage, property management and construction services to third-party clients. The region's offices employ 125 people and generated revenues of approximately $30 million in 2005. The chair of the ODU Real Estate Foundation, she received her bachelor's degree in business administration.

• Ella P. Ward (M.S. '93) - Ward was elected this year to the Chesapeake City Council, becoming only the second African American female to be elected to this office in the city's history. Ward worked for 35 years in Portsmouth Public Schools as a teacher and administrator before retiring as assistant principal of Craddock Middle School in 2004. She was elected vice president of the Virginia Board of Education in 2006. Her master's is in educational administration.

ODU's Batten Award will be presented posthumously to E.V. Williams, who was founder and chairman of E.V. Williams Co. Inc., a major road construction company. Williams, who died in November 2003, attended Old Dominion in the 1930s. His generous gifts to his alma mater have benefited the Perry Library, the Center for Real Estate and Economic Development and the College of Business and Public Administration. His contributions have also endowed two chaired professorships and will support faculty research grants, fellowships, stipends and development for decades to come. ODU recently named the Engineering and Computational Sciences Building in recognition of his philanthropy.

Town-N-Gown will present its service awards to Alice Coles and William Drewry.

The Bayview Citizens for Social Justice, the nonprofit group Coles helped found, obtained funding and support from federal, state and private sources that led to improved housing, a clean water system and an economic development plan to bring jobs, and thus hope, to residents of this Eastern Shore village.

Drewry has been a professor in ODU's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering since 1976. He authored the "Bayview Environmental and Community Action Plan" in collaboration with the Bayview Citizens for Social Justice, helping assess the environmental needs of the group and area. Drewry also co-wrote "Water and Wastewater Feasibility Study - Bayview, Virginia," and helped prepare overlay maps of the environmental planning area.

The Gornto Regional Service Award will go to Dr. Robert Rubin, a retired orthodontist, former lecturer and consultant in orthodontics at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth. Rubin, who has served as an associate professor in ODU's School of Dental Hygiene, is a past president of the Tidewater Orthodontic Society. He wrote "Your Dental Health," a weekly dental health column, for The Virginian-Pilot for five years and served as moderator and producer of "Let's Face It," a weekly program broadcast on local public radio. He is a former president of the United Jewish Federation of Norfolk and Virginia Beach.

For more information about the luncheon call 683-5759.

This article was posted on: October 13, 2006

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