18:00 PM

Ohio State honors four at summer 2010 commencement

COLUMBUS – Four individuals will be honored at The Ohio State University’s summer 2010 commencement for their contributions to society and academics, and their dedication to the university. Ceremonies begin at 1 p.m. on Sunday (8/29), at the Jerome Schottenstein Center.

Honorary doctorates will be presented to Lord Charles Henry Plumb, a British public servant and lifelong advocate for farmers and agriculture, and commencement speaker, Columbus mayor Michael B. Coleman.

The university will confer Distinguished Service Awards on Jack Chester, senior partner in the Columbus law firm of Chester, Willcox & Saxbe LLP; and posthumously to Virginia Zirkle, in recognition of her six decades of service to her alma mater as a home economist at the Putnam County Ohio State Extension.

Michael B. Coleman, Doctor of public service

Michael B. Coleman is serving his third term as mayor of Columbus, Ohio. Since taking office in 2000, his focus has been to improve the quality of life for families in Columbus neighborhoods and to create jobs by continuing to improve Columbus’ high quality of life.

The City of Columbus and The Ohio State University have joined forces on a number of projects over the last 11 years to improve safety and services in the University District—the city neighborhood closest to campus where thousands of students live. Those include the Moody/Hall Neighborhood Policing Center; 150 new streetlights; the Joint Patrol Project, in which an Ohio State University Police officer works in tandem with a Columbus Police officer to patrol the University District and campus; and university assistance in funding refuse collection in the University District.

Mr. Coleman has leveraged incentives to create and retain more than 65,000 jobs and bring more than $4.5 billion in private investment to Columbus throughout his tenure. Businesses have access to an educated workforce including graduates from Ohio State and 17 other regional colleges and universities. Columbus is centrally located to national markets and a growing transportation, distribution, and logistics hub.

Columbus is the 16th largest city in the country. Under Mayor Coleman’s leadership, the city has been recognized and ranked among the best in the nation. RelocateAmerica calls Columbus one of the 10 best large cities and one of the 10 most affordable metro areas. It was recognized as the nation’s 8th best place to live by CNN and Money magazine, which also declared Columbus as the nation’s safest big city. Forbes Magazine has recognized Columbus as the top up-and-coming tech city and the top city in which to retire. Columbus regularly makes top rankings as a hot destination for relocation of businesses and continues to earn top rankings for its stable housing market, affordability, and as a top city for African Americans, young professionals, and members of the GLBT community.

Mr. Coleman earned an undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Cincinnati in 1977 and a law degree from the University of Dayton in 1980. Prior to becoming mayor, he served as president of Columbus City Council from 1997 to 1999, and as council member from 1992 to 1999. He has been honored by numerous organizations, both locally and nationally, for his work on behalf of health care, the environment, economic development, after-school care, housing, and human rights.

Charles Henry Plumb, Doctor of public service

Lord Charles Henry Plumb is a British public servant and lifelong advocate for farmers and agriculture. He is an active member of the House of Lords, the European Union Sub-Committee Internal Market, and a partner and founding member of the European Union government affairs law firm Alber & Geiger.

Lord Plumb boasts a successful career in European politics in both the National Farmers Union and the Conservative Party, which ultimately led to his term as president of the European Parliament—the highest legislative body in the EU—from 1987–1989. He is the only Briton to hold this high post. During his 20-year tenure (1979–1999) in the European Parliament, he also served as Speaker for Agriculture and chair of the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development. Additionally, he was president of the National Farmers Union, the International Federation of Agriculture Producers, and the Royal Agriculture Society of England, and chair of the International Policy Council on Agriculture, Food, and Trade.

Upon retirement from his long and distinguished political career, Lord Plumb founded the Henry Plumb Trust in 1999 to continue his advocacy for rural and farming communities around the world. The Henry Plumb Trust aids and promotes agricultural projects worldwide, including educational scholarships and research awards for organizations and individuals working in the agriculture industry.

Lord Plumb is a decorated public servant. His many honors and awards include the Great Cross of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Gold Medal for Distinguished Services to Agriculture by the Royal Agriculture Society of England. He was knighted by Her Majesty The Queen in 1973.

John J. Chester Sr., Distinguished service award

Jack Chester is senior partner in the Columbus law firm of Chester, Willcox & Saxbe LLP. A nationally respected litigator, Mr. Chester joined the family practice in 1948 after receiving his undergraduate degree from Amherst College (1942) and his law degree from Yale University (1948). He was a member of the Ohio House of Representatives from 1953 to 1958 and served as special counsel to the President of the United States in 1974.

He has long been a dedicated advocate for The Ohio State University and, in particular, its Moritz College of Law. As an active participant in the College of Law’s National Council and the College of Arts and Sciences Advisory Committee, he has given invaluable advice and counsel to university leaders. As an adjunct professor, he has taught a popular class in pretrial litigation, now in its 10th year, in which he generously shares his substantial knowledge and experience concerning case and trial preparation.

Mr. Chester played a leading role in launching Moritz Law’s Legislation Clinic as well as the college’s Center for Interdisciplinary Law and Policy Studies. He helped to complete the college’s Barrister Club project, and he has personally and through his firm supported a number of university-wide programs, including the College of Humanities, the Athletics Department,and WOSU.

He is the recipient of the Columbus Bar Association's Professionalism Award and the Ohio State Bar Foundation Honorary Life Fellowship Award, and he has been named a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers.

Virginia I. Zirkle, Distinguished service award

Virginia Zirkle is known in Ohio's Putnam County as an “Ohio State legend,” a title that befits her six decades of service to her alma mater.

A 1945 graduate of Ohio State, Professor Zirkle worked briefly as a teacher before joining the Putnam County Ohio State Extension as a home economist in 1947, where she remained until her 1988 retirement. In 1978, she attained the rank of full professor, one of the first so named without having a doctoral degree. Fiercely proud of Ohio State’s land-grant mission, she encouraged countless first-generation college students to pursue higher education at Ohio State and its Lima campus. She played a leading role in establishing the Putnam County Educational Service Center, where students can enroll in Ohio State classes throughout the year before attending Ohio State Lima or the Columbus campus.

Professor Zirkle backed up her strong belief in the university with her generous support for student scholarships and the new Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center on the Columbus campus. She was a member of the Putnam County Alumni Club since 1945, becoming its permanent secretary in 1975, and was an active committee member of the College of Home Economics and Human Ecology.

Despite her retirement of more than 20 years, she remained an engaged volunteer for her university and her community until her death in January 2010.