Vern Riffe

In 1986, Speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives and Scioto County native, Vernal G. Riffe, Jr. introduced the bill to create Shawnee State University. Vern Riffe was a champion of higher education, particularly in underrepresented Appalachian Ohio. It is in his honor that the Vernal G. Riffe, Jr. Founder’s Medal Award is named.

The Award honors those who have distinguished themselves through their extraordinary service and contribution to the advancement of Shawnee State University — in character with our original founder, Vernal G. Riffe, Jr.

George White

Dr. George White

Dr. George White is a life-long leader in both medicine and education.

As a Board of Trustees of the Shawnee State Community College member in 1984, Dr. White made the motion for Shawnee State to become a four-year University. He was the last chairperson of the Shawnee State Community College Board and was elected the first chairperson of the Shawnee State University Board of Trustees. 

In addition to providing leadership, Dr. White, along with his wife Sandy, have helped to advance education in our region through their support of academic programs and student services. Life-long students themselves, they have helped to make college possible for students in the region through their support of scholarships, including the Dr. George and Sandy White Veterans Scholarship Endowment established to help veterans, their immediate family members, and descendants of Vietnam War-era veterans receive a college education.

Among their contributions, the Whites have helped to advance Shawnee State's digital simulation and gaming technologies programs, digital history preservation project, student research that is showcased every year during the Celebration of Scholarship, and the Appalachian Studies Conference.

Dr. White recently became a Hall of Fame member of the Bear Club after getting to know a classmate in a course he took on campus. She was a member of the Volleyball team and shared her experiences as a student-athlete at Shawnee State.

That's the type of involvement, interest, and unwavering support you can expect from a founder like Dr. White. What he has done for students, Shawnee State, and this community, can't be quantified.

Resolution E07-19: Award of the Founder’s Medal to Dr. George White (PDF)

Dave Todt

Dr. David Todt

Dr. David Todt was a part of Shawnee State University before there was a Shawnee State University.

Dr. Todt was hired as Divisional Coordinator of Math/Science and adjunct professor at Shawnee State Community College in 1978. During the Shawnee State Community College days, he helped advance academic programs that benefit students and our community, including a summer enrichment program for area youth.

As an Assistant Professor in 1986 when Shawnee State Community College became a 4-year public university, Dr. Todt played an instrumental part in establishing academic programs and departments that continue to meet the
highest standards of excellence in the region - and nation.

In 1989, he became the Chair of the Math & Science Department – two departments that have grown to offer onground and online programs that include associate's, bachelor's, and master's degrees. The programs he started have since launched thousands of careers.

Over the years, Dr. Todt held many leadership positions that shaped who Shawnee State is today. These include Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Chair of the Department of Teacher Education, Interim Director of the Graduate Center, and Associate Provost and Director of Institutional Planning. 

In 2014, Dr. Todt returned to the classroom to teach in the Natural Sciences Department before retiring from SSU in July of 2019.

In retirement, Dr. Todt is serving on several boards, including the SSU Development Foundation, a founding Board Member of the Ohio Natural Areas & Preserves Association, secretary of the Arch of Appalachia Board, member of the Endowment Committee of Cornerstone United Methodist Church, and as a member of the Advisory Committee of the Ohio Environment Protection/Office of Environmental Education partnership with the Environmental Education Council of Ohio.

Resolution E08-19: Award of the Founder’s Medal to Dr. David Todt (PDF)

Jim Kadel

Dr. James Kadel

Dr. James Kadel has served Shawnee State Community College and Shawnee State University for more than forty years. 

Dr. Kadel has made outstanding contributions to the founding of the University having served as co-chair of the institution’s Feasibility Study Committee to Determine the Need for a Four-Year College, the Planning Committee for Academic and Cost Analysis, the original Curriculum Development Committee for Baccalaureate Degree Programs, and chaired the Finance Committee for transition to a four-year college; and served as a representative to present the University’s first baccalaureate degree proposals to the Ohio Board of Regents for approval.

Dr. Kadel has served as an administrative member on the University’s collective bargaining team to negotiate the workloads and compensation of faculty who teach in a four-year college or university; and has provided exceptional leadership to the University through his administrative appointments as Dean for College of Allied Health and Nursing, Dean for College of Professional Studies, Interim Dean for College of Engineering Technologies, Interim Chair for Department of Business Administration, and Interim Provost.

Resolution E03-22: Award of the Founder’s Medal to Dr. James Kadel (PDF)

James Kricker

Mr. James Kricker

As part of a long line of business leaders and supporters of Portsmouth, Mr. James “Jim” Kricker was one of SSU’s most loyal and generous donors.

Jim made his first gift to Shawnee State University in 1986 – the institution’s first year as a four-year university. Since then, he remained a dedicated donor to the institution making regular contributions to SSU Athletics and the President’s Gala, as well as a key donation to the Make Tomorrow’s Stars campaign to promote and expand the Musical Theatre program on campus.

Jim served three terms on the SSU Development Foundation Board, promoting the importance of education in the Appalachian region to the community and beyond. He was president of the Development Foundation Board during the University’s Poised for Tomorrow capital campaign, its most successful fundraising campaign to date. He served as a member of the President’s Club and President’s Inner Circle, solidifying his status as one of the university’s most loyal and generous donors. 

Among his generosity, Jim made gifts to name two university buildings – Kricker Hall, housing the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences and the university’s first doctoral program, and the Kricker Innovation Hub, which just completed a $4 million renovation project that he helped kick-start with his gift in 2018.

Through his countless contributions to The Shawnee Fund, the Bear Club, scholarships, academic programs, and many more, Kricker made ideas come to life at the university. Most recently, his investment in the Kricker Innovation Hub helped lead the university and the region to become a leading destination in America for rural technology entrepreneurship and innovation.

Resolution E04-22: Award of the Founder’s Medal to Mr. James Kricker (PDF)