Four individuals receive awards during annual alumni dinner

Alumni Awards

(Oct. 17, 2016) Four individuals were honored during the Kennesaw State University Alumni Association’s annual Distinguished Alumni Awards Dinner, hosted by the Office of Alumni Relations the evening of Friday, Oct. 14 inside the Renaissance Atlanta Waverly Hotel and Convention Center. The event, held in conjunction with Kennesaw State’s 2016 homecoming week, was sponsored by Nationwide and Credit Union of Georgia.

Three prominent alumni – Don Davidson ’77, Jim J. Hills ’77 and Nels Peterson ’01 – each earned a 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award. The Distinguished Alumni Award program was created in 1992 to recognize KSU’s most accomplished graduates on an annual basis. A distinguished alumnus/alumna is one who promotes the ideals and mission of the University and demonstrates distinguished achievement in his or her chosen field at a local, regional, or national level, adding to the prominence of Kennesaw State.

Davidson earned a Bachelor of Science in architectural engineering from the former Southern Polytechnic State University. The immediate past chair of The Polytechnic Foundation of KSU, he is a current trustee of the Kennesaw State Foundation. Davidson has played a key role in student success at his alma mater through numerous scholarships, including the new Donaldson Family Endowed Scholarship for construction management students. He serves as the president/chief executive officer of Inglett & Stubbs LLC, a recognized leader in the electrical construction industry located in Mableton, Georgia. Davidson joined Inglett & Stubbs in 1977 and is in charge of the company’s oversight to ensure safety, quality and the correct use of all resources. He has more than 33 years of experience in the electrical industry. A member of the Cobb County Chamber of Commerce’s Chairman’s Club and the American Subcontractors Association, Davidson is also on the board of directors of the Greater Atlanta Electric League.

“There are many worthy alumni and I was honored to just be nominated for such a distinguished recognition, much less be selected,” Davidson said. “The fact the KSU Alumni Association has embraced honorees from the SPSU family says a lot to me about the progress made towards consolidation of the two alumni associations, the two foundations and the overall consolidation of the two universities. I certainly appreciate all those individuals who have and continue to work so hard to make the ‘New U’ a great place to get an outstanding education.”

Another graduate of the former Southern Poly, Hills obtained a B.S. in mechanical engineering technology. Over the years, he has been a generous contributor to KSU’s Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technology. Hills is the chairman/president of Applied Technical Services Inc., a premier provider of high quality consulting engineering, testing and inspection services based in Marietta, Georgia. He joined the company, started by his father in 1967, in 1982 and has led it through a period of unparalleled growth. ATS had one location and seven employees when Hills came on board, but now there are more than 320 workers locally and another 700-plus at 28 other sites across the nation. Additionally, ATS gave $50,000 for the naming of the Engineering Materials Room in the Engineering Technology Center on Kennesaw State’s Marietta campus.

“I am honored to receive the award,” Hills said. “I would like to recognize and thank all the alumni who make various types of contributions to the University. They also deserve to be honored.”

Peterson received his B.S. in political science while minoring in economics at KSU, where he served as president of the Student Government Association and later as a special assistant to the president, Dr. Betty L. Siegel, in the summer of 2001. In 2004, he acquired a juris doctor from the prestigious Harvard Law School. Peterson is a part of the Kennesaw State Alumni Association, along with being a charter member of the Advisory Board for the Department of Political Science and International Affairs. He was appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal as a judge with the Court of Appeals of the State of Georgia and took office in January 2016. Before becoming a judge, Peterson served the state in other high-level positions, including vice chancellor for legal affairs for the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, solicitor general and counsel for legal policy within the Office of the Attorney General, and executive counsel for the Office of the Governor under Sonny Perdue. A known advocate for KSU in Georgia state government, he is on the Executive Board of The Federalist Society’s Atlanta Lawyers Chapter.

“I am humbled and deeply honored to receive this award, and am grateful to the College of Humanities and Social Sciences for nominating me and to the Alumni Association for selecting me,” Peterson said. “But an award like this says less about me than it does about the many great things you can do with a KSU degree. The future of Kennesaw State University is brighter than ever, and I am excited to be a part of it.”

Receiving the Betty L. Siegel Award was Dr. Chuck Aust, a professor in the School of Communication and Media who was nominated by alumni and chosen as Kennesaw State’s faculty member of the year. The Siegel Award, also established in 1992, is named in honor of KSU’s second president who served 25 years in that role. The annual award recognizes exceptional service to the University and is bestowed upon an outstanding member of the Kennesaw State faculty. The individual who receives the award embodies the qualities of leadership, scholarship, and service to KSU while displaying a strong commitment to his or her students, colleagues, and the surrounding community.

In his 22nd year at Kennesaw State, Aust’s career in higher education covers 27 years of full-time teaching in the field of mass communication. His areas of research include media effects, media literacy, emotions and media, and effective teaching methods. Before becoming a professor, Aust performed public relations work in the nonprofit sector, and did news writing and photography. He also spent time as a child abuse caseworker, along with being a drug and alcohol abuse prevention/education specialist. In the community, Aust facilitates a teen support group, and sings and plays drums as a part of a church music ministry. He has a doctorate (University of Alabama, 1993) and a Master of Arts (Indiana University, 1985) in mass communication, along with a B.S. in psychology from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown (1975).

“Many thanks to those who nominated me and to the Alumni Association for this great honor,” Aust said. “I am deeply grateful and humbled by this award.

“What an honor it is to receive an award that honors Betty Siegel. I was pleased to be able to work for her and with her during her presidency, and I continue to have deep gratitude for her leadership, service, and sacrifice during her time as KSU president. She has made a lot of good things possible for a lot of people, so I’m pleased that she is honored through this award.”

Dr. Robin Dorff, dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, presented the awards to both Peterson and Aust while Davidson was introduced by Dr. Khalid Siddiqi, chair of the Department of Construction Management. Greg Conrey, associate professor and interim chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering Technology, provided information on Hills.

Master of ceremonies for the event was Steven A. Ellis ’03, president of the Kennesaw State Alumni Association. Also speaking during the ceremony was Jim Cooper, assistant vice president for alumni relations and advancement communications.

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