The Distinguished Service Award

The Distinguished Service Award recognizes an alumnus/alumna who has donated both time and talent in service to Ashland University.


Dr. Deborah Smith-Sullivan, `78

Dr. Sullivan graduated from Ashland with a B.S. degree in Education and earned an M.Ed. from Penn State and Ph.D. from Ohio State. She served as a member of the AU faculty for 33 years and as Director of Campus Wellness for five years, retiring in 2021 as full professor.

During her years as chair of the Family and Consumer Sciences Department, enrollment and endowed scholarships more than doubled. She led collaboration with other universities and local businesses to create nutrition and wellness programs, courses, initiatives, internships, and equipment donations. The Lifetime Wellness course was created with campus colleagues enabling the hire of a dietetics professor and beginning AU’s dietetics program.

Dr. Sullivan held many professional leadership positions and received the 2018 AAFCS Leader Award, one of three national honorees for significant contributions to the field of family and consumer sciences. She received many local and AU awards, as well as state and national recognition for AU’s Wellness program.

Deborah was a founding member of the Ashland Center for Nonviolence, assisting with programs and serving on the steering committee. She endowed an AU scholarship for track athletes in honor of her husband and his high school coach.

She led 11 European study tours, and was the faculty member to visit and recommend fashion study abroad opportunities in Paris and London. She assisted with three mission trips to El Salvador. Numerous international students lived with the Sullivan's over the years.


Karl Keith `78

Karl Keith was appointed Montgomery County Auditor in December 2000 and elected to four-year terms in 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018. A Certified Cash Manager, Karl earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Ashland College in 1978, and a Master of Arts from Miami University in 1979. Karl is a past president of the County Auditors Association of Ohio. He was named Ohio’s Outstanding County Auditor in 2012, and he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Government Finance Officers of Ohio in 2016. He served two terms as a member of the Ashland University Alumni Association Board of Directors and served as president of the Board in 2014/2015. Karl and his wife, Doris, reside in Dayton along with their dog, Winston.



Tim Solomon is the volunteer mentor and associate pastor of a Latino congregation, Casa de Restauración, in Bradenton, Florida. As a USCG licensed boat captain, Tim also works with his wife, Jan, in their sailing charter business, Key Sailing, in Sarasota, FL. He has also worked as a radio announcer/producer, manager of a chain of Christian bookstores, Bethel Bookstores, and in the president’s office of Campus Crusade for Christ at their world headquarters in Orlando. He later served as the senior pastor of the Iglesia de los Hermanos in Sarasota for over 10 years.

Born in Ashland, Tim grew up on the mission field in both Argentina and Colombia. He and his wife Jan also served in Colombia as missionaries for three years, and they continue to be involved in short-term mission trips overseas. Tim is a graduate of Ashland Theological Seminary, and his wife is an alumna (M.Ed.) of AU. Both sets of Tim’s and Jan’s parents were also alumni of Ashland College, and both of their maternal grandfathers served on the faculty and administration at Ashland College. Tim has served on the AU Board of Trustees since 2000. Tim and Jan reside in Sarasota, Florida and have two children and three grandchildren.



Jim Simmermon started his business career in 1950 in New Kensington, Pa. In 1952, he acquired a small division of the Professional Service Bureau and then purchased the parent company in 1954. He grew the business, renamed it Collection Service Center Inc., and eventually operated it in nine states. Associated Credit Bureaus honored Simmermon with the Excalibur Award - its highest distinction. He has 67 years of perfect attendance in Rotary, and is a Past District Governor. Married in 1952, he and his wife, Lois, who passed away in December of 2017, had five children.





Tony Magistro has been with ABC Supply Company for 19 years and established their National Account Division. For the past 44 years, he has been involved in the building materials industry and has worked in manufacturing as well as one-step and two-step distribution. While at Ashland, Magistro earned a degree in Business Management and Marketing, was a member of the wrestling team and Phi Delta Theta fraternity. Since returning to Ohio in 1983, he has served in the roles as the fraternity’s Chapter Advisor, Housing Improvement Chairman and Alumni Liaison for the fraternity. Currently, Magistro serves as the chapter advisory board chairman as well as a co-chair of the annual alumni golf outing and the annual fundraising event to support the Trautwein/Kruger Scholarship fund. He is an avid hunter and fisherman; active in the Ducks Unlimited Shawnee Mission, Kansas chapter. He founded chapters for Ducks Unlimited in both Evergreen, Colo., and Carrollton, Ohio. Magistro is a member of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Crazy Horse Foundation and an Indy car racing fan.



Brooks Hull, a 1970 graduate of AU with degrees in Business Administration and Marketing, serves as chairman of Bay Corporation in Westlake, Ohio. Bay is a manufacturer of specialized fittings and connections used in the medical industry, primarily for anesthesia, ventilation and resuscitation equipment. While on campus, Hull served as rush chairman and as vice president for Sigma Nu fraternity and was involved in community and fundraising events.

Since graduation, Hull has been very active, serving on the Alumni Association Board of Directors from 1988 to 1993, including as president in 1992-93; on the board of Trustees for many years; and has been involved in a number of fundraising campaigns on campus, including special gifts chairman and chairman of the trustee division. He has established the Brooks G. Hull Endowed Scholarship Fund, served as annual fund chairman in 1991 and received the Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals, N.E. Ohio Chapter in 1992. He served on the Presidential Search Committee in 1993 and 2005, and received the Outstanding Alumnus Award in 1997. He also serves as a local host for the Cleveland Area Alumni & Friends Socials and is a leader in the Cleveland area for helping AU to recruit students.



Lisa Miller has served as law director for the City of Barberton since 2008. As law director, she serves as legal advisor for the city of Barberton as well as the prosecuting attorney for the Barberton Municipal Court. Prior to that, she served as executive director for the Human Resource Commission for Summit County from 2004 to 2008.

She received a Juris Doctor from the University of Akron in May of 1991 and was admitted to the Supreme Court of Ohio in November of 1991. She received a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and Sociology with cum laude honors from AU in 1988. She has served as chair of the Ashland University Board of Trustees since 2006 and also serves as chair of the Presidential Search Committee for the board. She also is a member of many organizations in the Akron area.



Deirdre Gregory was a guidance counselor and mentor coordinator at Mansfield City Schools for 12 years, retiring in 2011. Gregory, who was a member of the Ashland University Board of Trustees, has been honored by Outstanding Young Women of America and Who’s Who Among American Professionals. She received a bachelor of science in home economics education from AU in 1981 and a Master of Education in supervision from AU in 1989. She also has a Master of Education in School Guidance and Counseling and a Master of Science in Family Resource Management.

She was a member of the Ohio School Counselor Association, American Counseling Association, Ohio Association for College Admission Counseling, Phi Delta Kappa (President 1994-96), American Association of University Women (President 1997-99), and the Ashland University Alumni Association Board of Directors (Silent Auction Chair 2003; Vice President, Nominations Chair 2004, President 2005).



Pickering of Westfield Center, Ohio, is an Ashland High School graduate and received a bachelor of science in business administration degree from Ashland University. He was employed with Ohio Farmers Insurance Company (Westfield Group) in Westfield Center from 1958 to 2000 in various information technology, accounting and management positions. He retired as executive vice president and secretary.

He has been a trustee of Ashland University since 1996, serving as assistant secretary, audit committee chair and on the Investment and Academic Affairs Committees. He also has served on the Finance and Facilities and Development Committees and was Leadership Gift Chair of the Building on Strength Campaign from 1999 to 2004.

Pickering has been director of Lodi Community Hospital – Akron General Health System since 1999 and chairman since 2005. He also has served as director of Akron General Partners – Akron General Health System since 2010. He is a member and treasurer of LeRoy United Methodist Church and president of All Sport Printwear Inc. since 2004.

He was a member of the Medina County Vocational Center Board of Education from 1983 to 1989 and served one year as president, and served as a member of the Cloverleaf Local Schools Board of Education from 1974 to 1990, including several years as president. He was a trustee of Westfield Group Foundation from 2001 to 2008 and served as chairman and secretary-treasurer.

Click HERE to nominate someone for the Distinguished Service Award.