The Academy of Distinguished Alumni honors West Virginia University graduates who have attained national or international distinction in their profession or discipline. The award has been established by the West Virginia University Alumni Association in cooperation with the University’s 14 schools and colleges. Nominations can be submitted electronically through September 30, 2018 (for consideration for 2019) or anytime thereafter for future nominations.
Since 1988, this prestigious award has been bestowed on nearly 100 West Virginia University alumni, including Jerry West, David Selby, Dr. Nancy Nielsen, Rod “Hot Rod” Hundley, Sam Huff and Gen. Robert H. Foglesong.
The 2018 Class of Academy of Distinguished Alumni honorees will be acknowledged at our annual event held on May 18, 2018.
Five leaders in the fields of landscape architecture, engineering, business, athletics and healthcare will join an elite group of West Virginia University graduates as this year’s inductees into the Academy of Distinguished Alumni at the Erickson Alumni Center May 18 at 6 p.m.
One of the highest honors awarded to WVU graduates, J. Keith Bowers, Michael Flowers, Albert Lewis, Oliver Luck and Alan Zuccari will join the likes of Jerry West, David Selby, Sam Huff and Robert H. Foglesong in the Academy.
“This year the Academy of Distinguished Alumni celebrates its 30th class of honorees,” said Sean Frisbee, WVU vice president for alumni relations. “I am pleased and delighted to recognize five individuals who epitomize the values of West Virginia University. Keith, Michael, Albert, Oliver, and Alan all are such great representatives of our University and inducting them to our Academy is truly an honor.”
J. Keith Bowers has devoted his life to making the world a better place. As a graduate in landscape architecture from the WVU Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Design, Bowers has worked tirelessly in the fields of ecological restoration from the coasts of the Chesapeake Bay to volcanic-craters in the southern Korean peninsula.
For nearly three decades, Bowers has been at the forefront of applied ecology, green infrastructure and place-based design. As the founder and president of Biohabitats. He has built a multidisciplinary organization focused on conservation planning, ecological restoration and regenerative design. Biohabitats’ approach can best be defined as a blend of sound science, place-based design and ecological democracy. It is rooted in deep ecology with an underpinning that all species have equal rights, and that we have an ethical obligation to ensure that our actions do not interfere with their evolutionary potential. It is ingrained with the intent to design with ‘place’ and all of its complexity, diversity and life. And it is infused with a sense of compassion, fairness and equity for all peoples and their communities.
In addition to his role at Biohabitats, Inc., Bowers also served as president and founder of Ecological Restoration and Management, Inc. a restoration construction and land management firm that collaborates with Biohabitats to provide professional installation and management services for conservation and restoration projects. Under his leadership, both companies are revered as industry leaders.
In 2011, Bowers was inducted as an honorary member of the American Society of Landscape Architects Council of Fellows. He also holds an honorary degree in landscape design from the Conway School of Landscape Design.
He is an active volunteer for organizations supporting ecological restoration, serving as the Chair and then the Global Restoration Ambassador for the Society of Ecological Restoration International from 2000 through 2012, and as Board President of The Wildlands Project from 2010-2014.
With more than 30 years of experience in exploring an unconventional role in landscape architecture, his work in integrating the science of ecological restoration and conservation biology with land planning and landscape architecture has made a significant mark in the conservation of our nation’s natural heritage.
With more than 40 years’ experience in civil engineering, Michael Flowers has served as an industry leader in the Pittsburgh area. As a graduate in the civil engineering program at the WVU Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, his dedication to the field has remained strong.
As the former president and chief executive officer of American Bridge Company headquartered in Pittsburgh, he began his career in 1975 while conducting repairs and maintenance on the steelmaking facilities for American Bridge’s parent company, United States Steel Corporation. Working from the ground up, he was later assigned to a business unit responsible for major commercial construction projects in the United States including high-rise buildings and bridges.
Flowers’ résumé of projects stems from the Renaissance Center in Detroit, Michigan, to One Mellon Bank Center, PPG Place and the Fifth Avenue Place in Pittsburgh, among others. In 1986, Flowers joined the Mellon Stuart Company in their commercial building division as Vice President. Working on the major bridge and heavy and highway projects centered primarily in Pennsylvania and Illinois. In 1994, he returned to American Bridge as Senior Vice President of Operations. His projects moved internationally as he oversaw major bridge construction in Portugal, and Vancouver, British Columbia.
Flowers assumed the role of Chief Executive Officer of American Bridge in 2011. Since that time, he has served on multiple committees and organizations including the American Society of Engineers, West Virginia University Department of Civil Engineers Advisory Committee and the University of Pittsburgh Department of Civil Engineers Advisory Committee, where he obtained his master’s degree in 1978.
In 2014, Flowers received the Roebling Award for outstanding leadership in the construction of one of the most challenging bridge projects ever attempted by civil engineers, the single-tower, asymmetrical self-anchored suspension bridge across San Francisco-Oakland Bay. At 2,047 feet, the bridge is the longest self-anchored suspension bridge in the world. The bridge officially opened for public use in 2013.
Albert Lewis, a native of Morgantown, received his business degree in 1951 from West Virginia University. After serving in the United States Marine Corps, Lewis used his G.I. benefits to obtain his Business Degree. He also received a commission as an officer in the U.S. Army Signal Corps during the Korean conflict.
After military service, Lewis held several business management positions in the Morgantown and Pittsburgh areas. In 1956, he joined the Houze Glass Company to expand its research and development of commercial products and military applications of glass technology through contracts with the Navy’s Office of Naval Research, as well as, several military and government projects. Through his investigations of glass fiber and resin science he advanced the knowledge of the use of these materials for structural and fire protection applications.
Lewis went on to launch a business and science career in the development and manufacturing of high-strength and high-temperature glass fiber products. In 1970, after moving fiberglass technology to California based Aerojet General, he acquired their fiberglass assets and founded his current company, Glass Inc. International. He currently serves as the owner and CEO.
Glass Inc. International licenses glass fiber technology and provides research, engineering and consulting services to the glass industry. Lewis is responsible for 30 glass manufacturing plants that have been installed throughout the world. The company also operates a precision casting foundry, supplying in-house company requirements, as well as supplies the general market with a broad range of metal castings. The fiberglass plants have provided the residents of these countries access to insulation products to improve their living environment.
To date, Lewis holds 23 U.S. patents in glass technology and chemistry, 13 patents pending, for high-temperature insulation in the United States and Internationally. His most recent development is a high-temperature glass fiber material to protect the lives of airline passengers and crew in the event of an aircraft fire.
In addition to his career dedication, Lewis has made a life-long commitment to finding a cure for his daughter’s rare neurological disease in hopes to alleviate suffering for not only her but, others who are afflicted. He established the Helen Lewis Research Foundation at the University of Southern California to fund research. In 2016 Lewis moved the foundation to the WVU Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute where significant progress has been achieved. In addition, Lewis’ current research and development focus is to provide the United States with an economically viable method to gasify municipal garbage with glass at minimal impact on the environment.
Oliver Luck distinguished himself on the football field at WVU and in the NFL, and later on as the University’s director of athletics with his vision for the program. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, he served as a quarterback on the WVU football team, ranking as a two-time MVP, Academic All-American and NCAA Top Five recipient. A Rhodes Scholar finalist, he graduated magna cum laude from the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences in 1982.
With a long-spanning career in professional and amateur athletics, Luck began his career as a quarterback in the National Football League, spending five years with the Houston Oilers from 1982-1986. After receiving his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law in 1987, Luck was selected for a legal fellowship sponsored by the German Academic Exchange Service. In 1989 he was appointed by NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle as the general manager of the Frankfurt Galaxy in the newly created World League of American Football. In 1996 he became President of NFL Europe.
Upon returning to the U.S., Luck served for five years as the CEO of the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority, the governmental entity that financed and built the sports and entertainment venues in Houston. In 2005, Luck was named the first President of Major League Soccer’s Houston Dynamo, a team that went on to claim two MLS Cup titles during his tenure.
In 2010, Luck was selected as WVU’s 11th Director of Athletics and is responsible for a number of significant achievements in that department. He played a critical role in leading the transition of WVU to the Big 12 Conference in 2012, spearheaded the development of Monongalia County Baseball Park, oversaw the construction of the new basketball practice facility and secured more than $100 million in additional facility improvements for the Coliseum and Milan Puskar Stadium. He also initiated the effort to market WVU's multimedia rights. In addition, Luck served on the College Football Playoff selection committee and continues to serve on the NFL Player Safety Advisory Panel.
Currently, Luck is the NCAA’s executive vice president for regulatory affairs and strategic partnerships. Luck has been with the NCAA since 2015. He is married to the former Kathy Wilson and they have four children-Andrew, Mary Ellen, Emily and Addison.
With loyal ties to West Virginia University, Alan J. Zuccari has proven himself to be as successful as he is supportive. A Morgantown native, Zuccari set his sights on Washington, D.C. following his graduation from the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences in 1973.
With 40 years of industry experience, he has devoted his career to contributing to one of the country’s leading health concerns, the care of the elderly. As President, Chief Executive Officer of Hamilton Insurance, he has worked diligently to provide quality insurance products and comprehensive coverage for the long-term care industry. He has developed compliance products to ensure safety and security, all while promoting the best in class care. Hamilton Insurance is ranked in the top one percent of all insurance agencies throughout the country.
But, Zuccari’s dedication expands further than his commitment to quality healthcare. Through his generous support to the University’s students, athletes, and alumni association, he has helped establish many supportive funds that are essential to the University’s success. These include the Ken & Carolyn Gray Student Emergency Fund that provides assistance to students who encounter a financial emergency or catastrophic events that prevent them from completing their degrees and the Tom Sloane International Travel Fund that allowed the alumni association to establish the first WVU alumni chapters in China, Kuwait, Malaysia, Iraq and Taiwan. Also, Zuccari established the Memmo Zuccari scholarship fund that provides scholarships to the WVU football team, as well as contributing to the basketball practice facility.
For the past 20 years, through his support he has helped families of the incarcerated by expanding the Alderson Hospitality House for the children and families of those at the Alderson Women’s Prison in West Virginia.
Zuccari was recognized as an Outstanding Alumnus in 2012 by the WVU Alumni Association. He is a current member of the WVU Foundation Board of Directors and has served on the Mountaineer Athletic Club’s advisory board. He has received numerous awards in his industry, including the Million Dollar Round Table Award, Top of the Table Award and the Golden Eagle Award, among others.
In the fall of 2011, Zuccari and his wife Lisa established the Zuccari Alumni Wall on the grounds of the Erickson Alumni Center welcoming future generations of Mountaineers. He has three children who are alumni of the University.
How are inductees selected?
Inductees are nominated by the general membership of the Alumni Association or their respective schools or colleges. Information on the honorees is permanently displayed in The Erickson Alumni Center . To be considered for this prestigious recognition, nominees must hold a degree from West Virginia University; he/she should be recognized in his/her profession at the national or international level; and he/she cannot be present WVU, WVU Alumni Association, or WVU Foundation, Inc. employees. (However, this would not necessarily exclude members of the Board of Governors, Foundation Board, etc.).
WVU Alumni Association membership/support, WVU support, WVUFoundation, Inc. support or monetary support to any of these three are not limiting factors for nomination.
How can I nominate an alumnus/a?
You can nominate individuals for this award by completing the on-line form or by downloading/completing the nomination form and submitting it, along with all required documentation, to the WVU Alumni Association at P.O. Box 4269, Morgantown, WV 26504-4269. Nominations for the 2018 Academy of Distinguished Alumni can be submitted by September 30, 2017. Nominations can be submitted at any time throughout the year for consideration the following year. Inductees will be selected in Fall 2017. The 2018 Academy of Distinguished Alumni will take place in May 18, 2018.
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