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Ohio State honors four at summer 2011 commencement

COLUMBUS – Four individuals will be honored at The Ohio State University’s summer 2011 commencement for their contributions to society and academics, and their dedication to the university. Approximately 1,900 students will receive degrees at the ceremony, which begins at 1 p.m. on Aug. 28, at the Jerome Schottenstein Center.

Honorary doctorates will be presented to commencement speaker David O. Frantz, professor emeritus of English and respected administrator, and award the honorary Doctor of Fine Arts to Lino Tagliapietra, an Italian glass artist.

The university will also present Distinguished Service Awards to Tami Longaberger, chair of the board and CEO of The Longaberger Company and former chair of the university Board of Trustees; and William Lhota, president and CEO of the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA).


David O. Frantz is a peerless leader in both academics and administration at Ohio State. He recently celebrated 43 years of teaching in the Department of English, where he has built a noted career as a Renaissance expert.

Dr. Frantz has earned universal respect from those who have governed the university, both for his remarkable skills as a facilitator and his incomparable institutional knowledge. He was the first faculty member to serve as secretary of the Board of Trustees, a position he held from 2002 until his retirement from the board in June 2011. In this role, Dr. Frantz coordinated the work of the board and served as a liaison to university leadership. During his tenure, the board saw an increase in membership from nine to 18, as its role accelerated.

Dr. Frantz also has held various leadership positions in the College of Humanities throughout his tenure at Ohio State, including associate dean and acting dean, as well as vice chair of the Department of English. He served as the academic liaison with the Department of Athletics from 2000–2002.

A highly revered educator at Ohio State, Dr. Frantz has received numerous awards and honors. In 2002, he was named the Department of English Undergraduate Professor of the Year. In addition, he has received the Arts and Sciences Honors Faculty Service Award, the Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching, and the Faculty Award for Distinguished University Service.

He is the author of Festum Voluptatis: A Study of Renaissance Erotica, as well as numerous scholarly articles. Next spring, he will be teaching a Shakespeare course at Ohio State.

Dr. Frantz has been a champion of the university’s celebrated partnership with the Royal Shakespeare Company. His commitment and enthusiasm were essential in the development of the unprecedented program, for which he will continue to provide leadership going forward.

Dr. Frantz graduated cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, from Princeton University in 1964. He earned his master’s degree from the University of Michigan in 1965, and his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 1968.

Lino Tagliapietra, DOCTOR OF FINE ARTS

Lino Tagliapietra is one of the world’s preeminent glass artists, renowned for the grace and beauty of his work and for pushing past traditional creative boundaries of glassmaking. Scholars credit Mr. Tagliapietra with having revolutionized the field by dint of the example of his pieces, his willingness to collaborate, and through generously sharing his vision as a mentor to generations of new artists.

Born on the Italian island of Murano—known for centuries as a center of glass­making—Mr. Tagliapietra began his apprenticeship at the age of eleven. At 21 he had earned the status of maestro, and began his career in glass studios executing the designs of others. After establishing the independence to design and execute his own vision, Mr. Tagliapietra launched a new phase in his storied career as the creator of personally driven works of art. His pieces are collected avidly around the globe and are highly prized by major museums, including the Columbus Museum of Art.

By fusing traditional European techniques with an unsurpassed willingness to experiment, Mr. Tagliapietra has had tremendous influence over the modern art of glassblowing and been the driving force behind contemporary artists’ use of glass for creative expression. Mr. Tagliapietra’s passion for his art extends to his relationship with other artists. Having tutored new artists for many years, Mr. Tagliapietra has seen his students go on to claim many of the highest honors in the field.

While his work reaches the heights of technical sophistication, it is lauded not merely for artistic precision but for the emotion it conveys. In fact, the Corning Museum of Glass has cited Mr. Tagliapietra for being “one of the few glassmakers who can successfully transmit his own sensitivity and intellect into an inanimate object.”

Among numerous citations in this country and overseas, Mr. Tagliapietra has received lifetime achievement awards from the Glass Art Society and the Museum of Arts and Design, and the President’s Distinguished Artist Award from the University of the Arts. He has been recognized as a Master Teacher/Master Artist by the Hite Art Institute at the University of Louisville and as Humana Distinguished Professor by Centre College. He is also the recipient of a Distinguished Educator Award from the James Renwick Alliance at the Smithsonian. Among numerous accredited affiliations, he is a Foreign Honorary Member of the Ameri­can Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Fellow of the Corning Museum of Glass.


William J. Lhota is the president and chief executive officer of the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA).

In 2004, after a long career at American Electric Power in which he rose to become a division president and oversaw power transmission and distribution in 11 states, Mr. Lhota accepted the reigns of COTA. Taking over an agency in transition, Mr. Lhota transformed COTA into a thriving and well-respected public transportation provider. Hailed by The Columbus Dispatch for his shrewd leadership, Mr. Lhota strengthened operations from top to bottom while overseeing 17 million passenger trips per year.

In his capacity as COTA’s chief, Mr. Lhota has reached out to Ohio State faculty and staff to help mark “Rosa Parks Day,” a national tribute to the civil rights pioneer. He has worked to maintain an ongoing relationship between Ohio State and COTA by contributing to research projects on transportation in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Geodetic Science. In addition, he has collaborated with Ohio State’s Transportation and Parking Services to identify solutions to mass transit problems.

Mr. Lhota, who earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Ohio State and holds a master’s in management from MIT, has repeatedly and generously given his time, talents, and ideas to benefit the university community and its programs.

As an active member of the College of Engineering’s Strategy Council, Mr. Lhota has helped guide numerous college initiatives and has most recently served on the search committee to select the dean of engineering. As a member and chair of The Ohio State University Alumni Association board of directors, Mr. Lhota played a central role in strengthening the relation­ship between Ohio State and its former students. Tapped by President Gee to co-chair a task force to realign and modernize university advancement efforts, Mr. Lhota helped reinforce an unbreakable tie between the university’s and Alumni Association’s larger mission and daily work.

A recipient of The Ohio State University Distinguished Alumni Award, Mr. Lhota also has been inducted by Junior Achieve­ment into the Central Ohio Business Hall of Fame in recognition for his service and leadership.


Tami Longaberger is an internationally renowned businesswoman and advocate, a dedicated philanthropist, and a celebrated community leader. She serves as chief executive officer and chair of the board of The Longaberger Company, the Ohio-based maker of handcrafted baskets and other products.

She is an active and engaged participant in statewide affairs, as well as initiatives across the globe. Currently, she serves as a member of the Columbus Partnership, a group of chief executives who work with public leaders to strengthen Ohio, as well as chair of the Arab Women’s Leadership Institute.

Ms. Longaberger has a long history of service on several boards and councils. Her past roles include serving as chair of the National Women’s Business Council, a 2004 member of the U.S. delegation to the United States Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland, and chair of the U.S. Executive Committee for the 2002 Helsinki Women Leaders Summit. She was named to the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame in 1995.

A passionate philanthropist, Ms. Longaberger has been an integral partner with the American Cancer Society for the Horizon of Hope® campaign, a national breast cancer fundraising and awareness initiative, which has raised over $15 million for research and education.

Additionally, she leads her family foundation, which has made donations of $11 million in the past decade to nonprofit organizations nationwide with a special emphasis on the rural communities of southeast Ohio.

Ms. Longaberger is an enthusiastic supporter of her alma mater, Ohio State, where she served as a member of the Board of Trustees from 1996-2005, including as chair from 2004-2005. She and her family are ardent champions of the university, namely through their support of the Longaberger Alumni House. Ms. Longa­berger’s legacy at Ohio State includes serving as vice chair of The Ohio State University Alumni Association, co-chair of a task force to realign and modernize university advancement efforts, director of the University Foundation, and on the board for both the Wexner Center Foundation and what is now the John Glenn School of Public Affairs.

Ms. Longaberger’s book, Weaving Dreams: The Joy of Work, The Love of Life, was published in 2010 by John Wiley & Sons.