12:00 AM

Ohio State honors two at summer 2006 commencement

COLUMBUS – Two individuals will be honored at The Ohio State University's summer 2006 commencement for their dedication to the university. Ceremonies begin at 1 p.m. Sunday (8/27) at the Jerome Schottenstein Center.

Distinguished Service Awards will be presented to two Ohio State alumni who have worked tirelessly on behalf of the university: Vincent T. Aveni, who heads the First Realty Property Management Company, and W. Ray Persons, senior litigation partner at King & Spalding LLP in Atlanta, Georgia.

Vincent T. Aveni, Distinguished Service Award

Vincent T. Aveni was the founder and CEO of Realty One, Inc., in greater Cleveland until his 1990 retirement, when he became chair emeritus.

In 1997, he sold Realty One to Insignia Financial, a New York Stock Exchange company. Today, he heads the First Realty Property Management Company, overseeing three-quarters of a billion dollars in property, including condominiums, shopping centers, office buildings, and apartments.

After graduating from The Ohio State University with a degree in business administration in 1947, Aveni began his career in real estate, eventually building Realty One into one of the largest residential brokerage firms in the United States. He has served as president of both the Cleveland Area Board of Realtors and the Ohio Association of Realtors. He is a life member of the board of directors of the National Association of Realtors and has received its highest level of recognition, the Distinguished Service Award.

A dedicated community volunteer, Aveni serves as a board member of the Cleveland Orchestra and chair of the National Leadership Board of The Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Center.

Aveni has long maintained close ties with his alma mater, especially to the Fisher College of Business, where he played a leading role in the university's successful "Affirm Thy Friendship"
campaign and continues to serve on the Fisher College's campaign committee. A member of The Ohio State University Foundation Board, he represented the board on the Alumni Advisory Council from 1999 to 2001. Since the inception of the Alumni Association's Advocates Program more than 20 years ago, he has worked to ensure that legislators are aware of and knowledgeable about university issues and concerns.

In 1999, the Vincent T. Aveni Athletic Scholarship Fund was established to provide valuable grants-in-aid to deserving undergraduate athletes. The Pat and Vince Aveni Dean's Innovation Fund was established in 2004 in the Fisher College of Business to increase the quality of research, teaching, and involvement with the business community.

In addition to his dedicated service on the Columbus campus, Aveni and his wife, Pat, also serve as ambassadors for Ohio State in the Cleveland area, hosting numerous events for area friends and alumni. The Fisher College has honored Mr. Aveni with the Pacesetters Executive Award in 1999 and the Fisher College of Business Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003.

W. Ray Persons, Distinguished Service Award

W. Ray Persons is senior litigation partner at King & Spalding LLP in Atlanta, Georgia, where his practice focuses on complex litigation, including class actions, product liability, and mass torts.

He received his B.S. degree cum laude in 1975 from Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah and his J.D. in 1978 from The Ohio State University, where he was a recipient of a Cleveland Bar Association Scholarship.

One of the nation's most eminent trial lawyers, Persons is a member of the International Society of Barristers, a law honor society limited to 600 trial lawyers and barristers drawn from the United States, Canada, and England. At the time of his induction into the society, in which
membership is by invitation only, he was one of the organization's youngest members, as well as its first African American member from a southern state. He is also a fellow of the American
College of Trial Lawyers, an organization whose membership comprises the top one percent of the country's lawyers.

He is a member of the American Bar Association, in which he co-chaired the 1999 Annual Meeting for the Section of Litigation, and is president-elect of the Atlanta Bar Association. He has been a Master in the Lamar Chapter of the American Inns of Court at Emory University Law School since 1992 and served for 10 years as an adjunct professor of law at Georgia State University Law School.

Persons continues to demonstrate his personal commitment to Ohio State despite his active litigation schedule, which carries him throughout the nation and the world. A compelling speaker, he has returned to the Moritz College of Law numerous times to inspire students, give talks, meet with top recruits, and provide career guidance.

With his wife, Wendy, he has endowed a scholarship in the Moritz College of Law that will help students overcome the financial challenges that he had to face during his law school years. He has been honored by Moritz Law's 8,000 alumni with their top award, the Distinguished Alumni Award.