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Ohio State awards philanthropic honors to Skestoses, Baumgardner and Shockey

Honorees support research, scholarship and student life

Four of The Ohio State University’s most committed and generous supporters were recognized last week with the institution’s highest awards for philanthropy and volunteerism.

George and Justine “Tina” Skestos received the Everett D. Reese Medal, the university’s highest honor in recognition of exceptional service in private philanthropy. This year, two honorees —Catherine Baumgardner and Georgie Shockey — were named recipients of the John B. Gerlach Sr. Development Volunteer Award, recognizing great dedication and personal investment in university fundraising efforts.

Catherine Baumgardner“The word ‘philanthropy’ has its roots in the Greek and Latin words for ‘kindness, benevolence, and love of humankind,’ and I cannot think of better exemplars of these worthy traits than George and Tina Skestos, Catherine Baumgardner and Georgie Shockey,” said President Kristina M. Johnson. “Their generosity and vision is advancing our researchers’ innovations, energizing our faculty and encouraging our students to aim for — and achieve — their highest educational aspirations through scholarships. We are grateful for their ongoing commitment to, and support of, Ohio State, and will continue to strive to meet the high standards they have set.”

Over nearly four decades, George and Tina Skestos have supported efforts throughout Ohio State. George Skestos served on the university Board of Trustees from 1992 to 2001, which included one year as chair. During that time, the university embarked on development of the athletic campus, including the Jerome Schottenstein Center, Bill Davis Stadium and the renovation of Ohio Stadium.

He also served on the boards of University Hospital, University Hospital East and the Wexner Medical Center for 23 years, and was instrumental in founding the Executive Health Program and acquiring buildings and plans for Ohio State East Hospital and CarePoint East.

The Skestoses are bolstering the teaching, research and clinical programs of the College of Veterinary Medicine. The college collaborated with and provided guidance to them as they embarked on establishing Gigi’s Dog Shelter, whose mission focuses on giving dogs in rural shelters access to high-quality care.

Nonagenarian George Skestos is driven by intellectual curiosity. Though he is not a graduate of Ohio State — but rather “That School Up North” — he has pursued many lifelong learning offerings through the university.

“In addition to the buildings, I would like to leave the staff and students the wisdom that I learned during my time as a trustee,” he said. “Ohio State allows you to create your own path. The opportunity is there for the taking. Do as I did: Reach out and grasp it.”

Engaged with the university in a volunteer capacity for many years, Baumgardner served on many committees and the Alumni Advisory Council before being chosen to serve on the Alumni Association Board of Directors. She was elected to a two-year term as chair in 2019, and while ensuring the board remained remarkably productive throughout the pandemic, she led during transitions of the alumni association president and CEO and university president.

Georgie ShockeyBaumgardner has loyally given to areas across the university for three decades, including creating a scholarship in honor of her parents, the Styrcula-Zavatsky Family Women & Philanthropy Scholarship Fund.

“I hope to inspire others to give their time, talent and treasure, too, as they define their own Buckeye traditions and legacies,” Baumgardner said. “My Ohio State volunteer journey has been the ride of a lifetime, and I can’t wait to see what lies ahead.”

For more than 20 years, Georgie Shockey has dedicated her time and professional expertise to the Alumni Association and the College of Education and Human Ecology — she is a graduate of the college, with a degree in nutrition.

Shockey has been actively engaged in past and current fundraising endeavors. As a director on the Foundation Board, she continues to help inspire the organization toward new fundraising heights as part of Time and Change: The Ohio State Campaign.

A longtime generous contributor to student scholarships, she is also committed to Ohio State's efforts in the fight against cancer and to protecting the ice core samples in the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center.

“From my background in nutrition to supporting the future of ice cores that hold the secrets to climate and medical insights — it can all only be done at an institution as diverse as Ohio State,” Shockey said. “The power of giving and advocating for this university is very much a highlight for me, and I hope to continue to serve in this way for years to come.”

“George, Tina, Catherine and Georgie are model leaders who care deeply about Ohio State and the people we serve. Their significant contributions will lead to a brighter future for us all,” said Michael C. Eicher, Ohio State’s senior vice president for Advancement and president of The Ohio State University Foundation. “Our university is forever changed because of their philanthropic support and generous investment of time.”

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