The Outstanding alumni of the year award

The Outstanding Alumnus/Alumna of the Year Award is the highest award given by the Alumni Association. It recognizes an alumnus/alumna who has achieved distinction in their chosen field of employment and community and given of themselves in service to Ashland University.


Lawrence (Larry) Hiner, `57


Larry’s career journey began at Ashland in music education, with a major in percussion. In 1958, he was accepted into the United States Army Field Band. After playing and touring the USA with the band for three years, he started graduate school at Ohio State, studying television production and programming. He earned his MBA in December 1963, and was hired in January 1964 by NBC in NYC.

After six years at NBC, Larry was approached by Ashland College to start the television portion of the newly formed Radio/Television Department. This experience-oriented form of learning “hands on” philosophy was reinforced by a rigorous academic curriculum. In 1987, he was the recipient of the Ashland College Mentor Award. The Academy of Arts and Sciences chose Larry, one of 18 faculty from across the United States, as a delegate to their faculty seminar in 1993. He devoted his last three years with the university in the Development Department.

After retirement from AU, Larry became the General Manager of the Ashland Symphony Orchestra for seven years. During the summers, he worked for fifteen years bringing various musical genres to the Ashland Myers Band Shell.

In 1999, he received the President’s Award from the American Federation of Musicians, Local 159. The Ashland High School Distinguished Alumnus Award was presented (posthumously) in September 2021.

He was married for 55 years to Catherine Cassel Hiner, whom he met while playing drums on the Queen of Bermuda ocean liner in 1962. They have two children: Eric ‘90 (Melissa Rowan ‘90) Hiner and Kirsten (Scott) Carpenter, and grandchildren Rowan and Phoebe Hiner.



Tom Minnich graduated from Ashland in 1981 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree, majoring in Accounting and Finance. Then, as non-traditional student, working full-time while attending night classes, he earned a Master of Business degree from Frostburg State University in Maryland in 1984. Tom began his career in banking and in 1978 he joined Eagle Rubber Company in Ashland. In 1993, he joined Kuhlman Electric Corporation in Lexington, KY and was named Kuhlman’s President & CEO in 2005 and led the company through its’ sale to ABB in 2008. Tom was recognized as a Top Global Manager in 2009 before retiring in late 2011. Post-retirement, Tom serves as a consultant and has joined Boards for Radix Wire and American Bath, both successful private-equity companies. Tom and his wife Loretta are members of Ashland University’s President Circle and have established four endowed scholarships. They have been blessed with two sons and four grandchildren during their marriage.



Fred Broad, along with his business partner, founded Packaging Specialists, a manufacturing sheet plant in Pittsburgh. In 2012, they chose to sell their company to Packaging Corporation of America (PCA). He continues to serve in a sales advisory role at PCA. In 2018, PCA honored Fred with the Team Captain award, recognizing excellence in collaboration.

Fred has served on the Ashland University Board of Trustees since 2007. He currently serves as the Vice Chair of the Board, Chair of the Institutional Advancement Committee, and Chair of the President’s Executive Advisory Board. In 2010, the AU Alumni Association presented Fred with the Special Achievement Award, which is given to an alumnus who has a record of excellence in their profession and has shown faithful service to AU.

As a freshman and an only child from the small town of Canfield, Ohio, Fred recalls how incredibly homesick he was during his first weeks on campus. He and his wife, Anne Mainwaring Broad `76, were so inspired by their early experience of “Accent on the Individual” that they established the Freshman Orientation Program in 2016. The program offers incoming freshman the opportunity to get plugged into life at AU and settled before the first day of classes. The program was designed to facilitate a smooth transition for incoming freshmen and peace of mind for parents with the promise that their children will experience “Accent on the Individual” from the first moment they arrive. Hundreds of students have joined campus organizations and formed close friendships, which has had a direct impact upon increased student retention.

Fred earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Ashland College in 1976. He and Anne have two grown children, a granddaughter and reside in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.



Paul McKnight was Senior Vice President of Organization Planning for Emerson Electric at their St. Louis corporate headquarters from 1993 until he retired in 2013. In this role he was responsible for global executive succession planning and leadership development. Previously he was the VP for Human Resources for Liebert Corporation in Columbus, Ohio for over 14 years. Liebert was acquired by Emerson in 1986. Paul is a 1970 graduate of Ashland University with a BS in Business Administration and has an MBA from Xavier. McKnight served in the United States Marine Corps. He is a member of the Ashland University Board of Trustees and is the Chair of the Trusteeship Committee.





Ron Alford is president of The John and Mary Alford Foundation, a supporting organization of the Licking County Foundation that seeks to improve and enhance the quality of life primarily in the Licking County community through the support of educational, social, religious and cultural programs. He is also president of OBX Ventures, real estate development and property management located in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Alford earned a bachelor’s degree from Ashland College in Business Administration and attended the Graduate School of Retail Bank Management at the University of Virginia. In addition to serving on the AU Board of Trustees, he is also a trustee for the Methodist Theological School in Ohio and the Ohio State University Newark campus.



As president of Satisloh North America, Peter Lothes is responsible for leading all sales and operations for Satisloh, one of the leading machine manufacturers for ophthalmic and precision optics manufacturing in the U.S. and Canada. A company news release announcing his promotion to president noted that “Lothes has established himself as an extremely strong operational leader; a go to person for the company for a plethora of strategic initiatives; and has earned the trust and respect of customers, employees and leadership, both at a local and global level.”

Lothes, who received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Ashland in 1988, began his career in the family business, Select Optical, in Columbus, Ohio, serving as president from 1991 to 2009. In 2009, he relocated to Dallas and has served as vice president of national labs and vice president of operations for both Essilor Laboratories of America and Essilor partner labs. He was responsible for Essilor’s five largest production labs in the U.S. and Mexico. As a student at Ashland, Lothes was very involved on campus as a member of Sigma Nu fraternity, the varsity football team and the lacrosse team. He has stayed active with Ashland – serving on the alumni association board of directors for six years and also serving as board vice president and president.



Dr. Card is a professor in the Department of Neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh. He received a Ph.D. in Anatomy (Neuroanatomy) in 1979 from Wayne State University, an MS in Biological Sciences in 1975 from Wright State University and a BS in Comprehensive Science at AU in 1972.

Since 2004, Card also has served as co-director for the NIH Center for Neuroanatomy with Neurotropic Viruses at the University of Pittsburgh. In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Card is involved in research in two basic categories. A long-standing focus of the laboratory is the definition of the functional organization of neural circuits involved in the control of behavioral state, autonomic function and adaptive behavior. The primary objective of these studies is to define the synaptic organization and chemical phenotype of the central networks that mediate these essential regulatory functions. The second focus of the laboratory is the development of tools for trans neuronal tracing of neural circuits. This effort, which is fundamental to the goals of the investigation of neural circuitry, incorporates mechanistic approaches.



Deborah Karl graduated from Ashland College in 1972 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Education. She taught clerical services and high skill stenography at Pioneer Joint Vocational School in Shelby, Ohio, until 1983 when she resigned to stay at home with her two young daughters.

She served on the Ashland University Alumni Association Board of Directors from 2003 to 2008. While on the Alumni Board, she worked on the College of Education building campaign.

She currently serves on the Ashland University Board of Trustees and the Recreation Unlimited Board of Trustees, a non-profit organization serving individuals with physical and developmental disabilities and health concerns.

Karl has been very involved in hosting Ashland University Alumni social events in both Columbus, Ohio, and Naples, Fla., and remains enthusiastic about Ashland University.



Jack Miller, a 1974 graduate, majored in Marketing and Finance, earning a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree. Following graduation, he joined Miller Supply, which had 12 employees and sold only used pipe in Wooster, Ohio. Today Miller Supply is a mega chain of 11 oilfield supply stores. He is owner/operator of Kenoil, one of Ohio’s leading oil and gas producing companies, as well as owner/operator of Kastle, a deep well gas and oil producer in northwest Pennsylvania.

Jack had been very involved in charitable projects in his community, his church, and various schools, including his local high school, The Ohio State University and Ashland University. Currently, Jack serves on 23 Boards of corporations and charitable organizations. He has been a member of the Ashland University Board of Trustees since 2005 and sets the standard for what a strong Board member should be. Jack chairs the Finance and Facilities Committee and also chaired the Campaign for the Athletic Complex which raised nearly $23 million. Jack has personally supported every project on campus since joining the Board and was a leading benefactor to the Jack and Deb Miller Memorial Chapel and Jack Miller Stadium in the Dwight Schar Athletic Complex.


Gayle (Gorman) Freeman, `77

Freeman serves as president of Manairco Inc. in Mansfield, a manufacturer of airport/heliport lighting equipment. She received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Ashland University.

She currently serves on the board for a number of organizations, including the Keybank Central Ohio Advisory Board; North Central State College Foundation Board of Directors; Illuminating Engineering Society of North America, Aviation Committee; Richland County Foundation; Friends of the Guard, 179th Airlift Wing/Ohio Air National Guard; and Co-Chair of Capital Campaign for Ashland University’s College of Nursing. She also serves as a member of IES, Illuminating Engineering Society of North America; Ninety Nines: International Organization of Women Pilots; Mansfield Aviation Club; International Association of Women Helicopter Pilots; and Altrusa Club of Mansfield.

She has received numerous awards, including the J.C. Penney – Spirit of the American Woman award in 1990; the Athena Award in Mansfield in 1991; was named to Top 10 Women Business Owners/Cleveland in 1997 and North Central Ohio Entrepreneurs Hall of Fame in 2007.

Click HERE to nominate someone for the Outstanding Alumnus/Alumna of the Year Award.