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Ohio State honors four at spring 2008 commencement

COLUMBUS – Four individuals will be honored at The Ohio State University's spring 2008 commencement for their contributions to society and academics, and their dedication to the university. Ceremonies begin at 1 p.m. Sunday (6/8), at Ohio Stadium.

Honorary doctorates will be presented to Brien A. Holden, an internationally renowned leader in eye and vision science; and commencement speaker Brian Williams, anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News.

The Distinguished Service Award will be presented to two dedicated Ohio State alumni: Edward Cooperman, chair of Edmarc Investments, and Barbie Tootle, president of Left Field Consulting.

Brien A. Holden, Doctor of Science

Brien Holden is Scientia Professor in the School of Optometry and Vision Science at the University of New South Wales in Australia. He is CEO of the Institute for Eye Research and a director and deputy CEO of the government's Vision Cooperative Research Centre.

An internationally renowned leader in the eye and vision science arena, Professor Holden founded the Cornea and Contact Lens Research Unit in 1976 at the Univer¬sity of New South Wales, doing cutting-edge research on corneal physiology and new contact lens materials and designs. The unit has grown into the Institute for Eye Research, the major partner in the Vision Cooperative Research Centre, a government-sponsored centre dedicated to new and better ways of seeing based on research into myopia development, refractive surgery, anti-infection strategies, vision care delivery, and many other areas of basic and applied vision science.

A graduate of the University of Melbourne, Professor Holden holds a doctorate from The City University in London. He gained fame in the 1970s for discovering the cellular changes occurring at the level of the corneal endothelium that are induced by stimuli affecting the corneal epithelium of the eye, which had a huge impact on long-wear contact lenses. His research at the University of New South Wales has measured the fundamental oxygen needs of the cornea—developing cornea implants, accommodating gel intraocular lenses—and worked to develop unique contact lens materials in partnership with the contact lens industry. He has published more than 300 peer-reviewed articles on his research.

Professor Holden has had many visiting appointments at universities across the globe, including a 1978 appointment at The Ohio State University's College of Optometry.

His international work includes serving as chair and CEO of the International Centre for Eyecare Education; global chair of Optometry Giving Sight; chair of the Refractive Error Working Group of the World Health Organisation; and board member of the International Agency for Prevention of Blindness and its Vision 2020: Right to Sight Global Initiative. In addition, he serves as deputy co-chair of Vision 2020 Australia and chair of the board of management of VisionCare NSW.

Through these organizations, Professor Holden helps millions of people in underserved areas throughout the world who are blind or vision impaired because they have no access to eye examinations and vision correction.

His many honors include the 1986 Ruben Gold Medal from the International Society for Contact Lens Research, the 1988 HB Collin Research Medal from the Australian Optometrical Association, the 1988 Glenn A. Fry Award from the American Academy of Optometry, and the Medal of the Order of Australia for services to research and humanity.

Brian Williams, Doctor of Journalism

Brian Williams is only the seventh anchor and managing editor in the history of NBC Nightly News.

Since joining NBC News in 1993, Mr. Williams has become one of the nation's foremost television journalists, covering virtually every major breaking news event and traveling extensively around the world. He is a veteran of political campaigns and elections and the Middle East, and he has traveled to dozens of U.S. cities and foreign countries in the course of covering the news over more than two decades.

In his first two years on the job, he became the most highly decorated network evening news anchor of the modern era. He has received six Edward R. Murrow Awards, seven Emmy Awards, the duPont-Columbia University Award, and the industry's highest honor, the George Foster Peabody Award. Most were awarded for his work in New Orleans while covering Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Vanity Fair magazine later called his work "Murrow-worthy," and The New York Times said his reporting of Katrina was "a defining moment as a network reporter and anchor." In 2006, Time magazine named Brian Williams one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

Williams is a former NBC News chief White House correspondent and former anchor and managing editor of The News with Brian Williams on MSNBC and CNBC. He traveled for two years with the president on board Air Force One and has covered numerous nominating conventions and presidential campaigns and elections. He has moderated several presidential debates, including co-hosting the Obama-Clinton debate in Cleveland earlier this year.

Williams was the first NBC News correspondent to reach Baghdad during the 2003 war in Iraq and was part of a U.S. Army helicopter mission that was forced down by enemy fire south of Najaf. He nonetheless has returned to Iraq several times.

He is a native of Middletown, New Jersey, where he spent many years as a volunteer firefighter. He attended Catholic University and George Washington University, both in Washington, D.C., and he is a former White House intern. He is a member of the board of directors of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation.

Williams is a frequent guest on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart and has often appeared with David Letterman, Jay Leno, and Conan O'Brien. After he hosted Saturday Night Live in November, Entertainment Weekly said his name belongs alongside SNL's all-time greats. He has written for The New York Times, Time, Newsweek, and The Wall Street Journal.

Edwin M. Cooperman, Distinguished Service Award

Edwin M. Cooperman is chair of Edmarc Investments, a privately held consulting and venture capital firm. He is also a principal of T C Solutions, a privately held investment and financial services consulting firm.

He is former chair of the Travelers Bank Group and executive vice president of Travelers Group. Travelers merged with Citicorp to become Citigroup, one of the world's largest financial services companies. After joining Travelers in 1991, he became chair and CEO of Primerica Financial Service Group. Previously, he had a dis- tinguished career at American Express, starting as an attorney in 1972 and becom¬ing chair and co-chief executive of Travel Related Services, North America, the primary operating division of American Express Company, housing its card, travel, and travelers cheque units.

A 1964 graduate of Queens College, Cooperman earned a JD from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law and an LLM from New York University School of Law. He became an associate professor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where he served as counsel to a cadet accused of violating the academy's honor system. The incident received national news coverage and was the subject of an NBC television movie.

Cooperman's service to Ohio State is wide-ranging and thoughtful. He is a member of The Ohio State University Foundation Board and a long-time member of the Moritz College of Law's National Council, an alumni advisory group. He has assisted the law school in revamping its communication/public relations strategic plan and served as chair of the college's $30 million "Investing in Momentum" campaign. He played a leadership role in the building of the Barrister Club in the South Campus Gateway and has endowed a designated professorship in the College of Law.

In addition, he has lent his time and support to the Ross Heart Hospital, serving as vice chair of its campaign committee, and to Ohio State's Agricultural Technical Institute's Equine Program, where he has bred several horses.

Cooperman has made exceptional contributions to the cultural, economic, and social life of New York City, including raising funds for the revitalization of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. In 1990, his career was featured on a half-hour CNBC special called "Profiles in Power."

Barbara J. Tootle, Distinguished Service Award

Barbie Tootle is president of Left Field Consulting, providing training in creativity and organizational and personal development, consultation on communication strategies, and speech writing services for leaders in corporate, higher education, and nonprofit organizations.

A two-time graduate of The Ohio State University, Tootle holds a bachelor's degree in business administration and a master's in sociology. She joined the Ohio State staff in 1969 as an administrative assistant in the Disaster Research Center. In 1974, she became coordinator of the Office of Greek Affairs, where she served for 11 years as advisor to 63 undergraduate fraternities and sororities. She was one of the key contributors to the 1999 Greek Life Task Force, created to evaluate, strengthen, and improve fraternity and sorority life at Ohio State. She is a founder and past president of the Association of Fraternity Advisors.

In 1985, Tootle joined the Office of the President at Ohio State, where she worked for Presidents Jennings, Gee, and Kirwan before retiring in 1999. During her tenure in the president's office, she served first as program coordinator, then as director of editorial projects, director of special projects, and, finally, as special assistant to the president.

Tootle remains an active member of the Ohio State community, notably as The Ohio State University Alumni Association representative on the Ohio Union Council, helping to plan the new union, now under construction. A meeting room in the new union will be named for her, thanks to gifts from former students. She continues to represent her alma mater by educating alumni at many alumni clubs and has been the featured speaker at several annual Alumni Leaders Conferences at the Alumni Association.

Her work with women's athletics through the Ohio State Varsity "O" Women's Alumnae Society is recognized with the Barbie Tootle Buckeye Spirit Award. Additionally, she continues to be involved with campus groups, including Mortar Board, Sphinx, Pi Beta Phi, and Ohio Staters, Inc. She is a member of the National Speakers Association, a director of the National Order of Omega, and a trustee of Columbus' Thurber House.