The Ohio State University at Newark


Distinguished Alumni Award

The Distinguished Alumni Award is presented to alumni who attended The Ohio State University at Newark for at least two semesters or three quarters and who have achieved distinction in their field and/or for making a difference in the lives of others through outstanding professional, personal or community contributions. The award is presented annually at the Alumni and Student Homecoming Celebration Dinner.


2017 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

Judge Luann Cooperrider

Judge Luann Cooperrider, Perry County Probate-Juvenile judge, has received yet another accolade in her long and distinguished career—The Ohio State University at Newark Distinguished Alumni Award. The Thornville resident was presented with the award at the 2017 Student and Alumni Homecoming Dinner at the Newark campus on Thurs., Oct. 5.

“Judge Cooperrider truly represents how starting your college and career path at Ohio State Newark can be a connection to an extraordinary life,” said Ohio State Newark Dean/Director William L. MacDonald. “We are incredibly pleased to present this second annual award to such a notable alumna. She has built a career out of helping others and putting community first.”

Cooperrider is a graduate of Sheridan High School in Thornville, Ohio. She attended Ohio State Newark and earned a Bachelor of Arts at The Ohio State University. She then earned a Juris Doctor at Capital University’s law school and also completed graduate work at Loyola University in Rome, Italy.

In her early career Cooperrider was the night prosecutor-hearing officer in Licking County from 1982 to 1990 and also taught business law classes at Central Ohio Technical College from 1985 to 1988. In 1986, she became the first female lawyer to be an assistant prosecutor in Perry County, a position she held until 1990. She took office as the Perry County Probate-Juvenile judge in 1991 and became the first female judge in Perry County. She also has been a professor of various law courses at Hocking College, Perry County campus, New Lexington.

Throughout her career Judge Cooperrider has received many honors and awards, including: president of the Ohio Association of Juvenile Judges, Ohio State Bar Association Women in Law Award, Ohio Education Service Center Award for Enhancing Education to the Youth of Perry County, president of the Ohio Juvenile Court Judges Board of Trustees, Grand Master’s Community Service Award from the Freemasons, and the Ohio Justice Alliance for Community Corrections C.J. McLin award, as listed on the Perry County Juvenile Court/Probate Court website.

In 2008, Judge Luann Cooperrider was instrumental in starting a free legal clinic in Perry County with Judge Dean Wilson of the Perry County Court. In 2012, Judge Cooperrider and Judge Wilson were honored by The Ohio State Bar Foundation with an Outstanding Organization Award.

Photo: William L. MacDonald, dean/director of Ohio State Newark and Judge Luann Cooperrider


2016 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient

Jerry Besanceney

A man who credits his life success to his start at The Ohio State University at Newark is the first winner of the Ohio State Newark Distinguished Alumni Award. Jerry Besanceney of Buckeye Lake received the award at the 2016 Homecoming Dinner on the Newark campus Thurs., Sept. 29.

“Jerry is a wonderful man who has given back to Ohio State Newark in numerous ways,” said Ohio State Newark Alumni Relations Director Pat Whilding. “We are thrilled he is the winner of this new award to honor and appreciate our supportive alumni.”

Besanceney attended Ohio State Newark from 1963-1964 before joining the military. He returned to the Newark campus in 1970 after completing active military duty. Besanceney’s nomination letter was submitted by Bob McGaughy, a 1960 Ohio State graduate who used to work on the Newark campus. In the letter, McGaughy writes that Besanceney credits Ohio State Newark for being a contributing factor in whatever success he achieved in life.

Even though Besanceney completed his degree in international studies on the Columbus campus, he valued his time on the Newark campus and maintains a strong desire to give back. Besanceney served for nine years on the Ohio State Newark Advisory Board. He also established and contributed to an endowment fund in his name to provide scholarship assistance to Ohio State Newark students.

“Jerry has also been very involved with alumni events and has assisted with recruiting students to this campus,” said Whilding. “Jerry is always an eager participant in anything I ask him to do. He has been a part of alumni panels on Buckeye Visit Day, did a recruiting video displayed on the website and recently assisted with the Convocation event welcoming students.”
Besanceney worked in various leadership and management roles throughout the course of his business career. He also retired from the United States Army at the rank of Colonel in 2002. Today he is very active with SCORE, a volunteer mentoring program for new and growing businesses. Besanceney is an active member of the Newark Rotary Club and serves on the board of directors for the Licking/Knox Goodwill Industries.

“Jerry regularly attends as many alumni functions on the Newark campus as he can and was the guest speaker last year for Homecoming,” said Whilding. “He is proud to be a Newark campus alumnus and we are lucky to have him. He’s just a terrific guy and is so deserving of this honor.”

Photo: Associate Dean of Academics Melissa Jungers and Jerry Besanceney