UC College of Arts and Sciences to celebrate alumni awards

Four honorees recognized for philanthropic and professional impact

Four alumni from the University of Cincinnati’s College of Arts and Sciences are being recognized for contributions to their professions, their communities and the university next month.

Nominated by fellow alumni, faculty or staff and chosen by the college, this year’s honorees include Darlene Walley, '84, chemistry; Shannon E. Finn Connell, ’92, psychology; Charles Barnett, ’71, history; and Brande Victorian, ’07, journalism. They will be formally celebrated at A Night With A&S: A Celebration of Excellence and Philanthropy on April 6.

Darlene Walley, '84, PhD, chemistry

A&S Distinguished Alumni award recipient and chemistry grad Darlene Walley.

A&S Distinguished Alumni award recipient and chemistry grad Darlene Walley.

Walley will receive the Distinguished Alumni Award, which is designated for an alumnus over age 40 who is outstanding in their chosen field, and has made significant contributions that benefit the community.

After receiving her PhD in chemistry from A&S, Walley went on to a 30-year career in research and development, and pharmaceutical and consumer goods experience that includes executive positions at Procter & Gamble Co., Gillette and Arm & Hammer. She now consults with health care, biotech and pharmaceutical companies.

In support of A&S, Walley has more than $1.7 million in philanthropic commitments, including a $500,000 gift to the dean’s discretionary fund to help the college through the early COVID-19 crisis.

“I am honored to receive this award,” Walley says.

“I have had a wonderful career thanks in large part to the outstanding education that I received at UC,” Walley says. “And I am thrilled to see all the positive changes at the university, and the very bright outlook for the future. It has been a pleasure to work with the A&S faculty, staff and alumni, and I look forward to many more exceptional years!”

Walley will also be recognized at the university level at the UC Alumni Association’s alumni celebration on April 7.

Shannon E. Finn Connell, '92, psychology

A&S Philanthropist of the Year and psychology grad Shannon E. Finn Connell.

A&S Philanthropist of the Year and psychology grad Shannon E. Finn Connell.

Connell will receive the Philanthropist of the Year award, which is awarded to an alumnus who has been highly engaged in philanthropic activities at A&S, or made a significant impact on the college.

Connell is co-founder of Capo Initiative, A Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Consultancy. A former executive with P&G, SYSCO and Shell Oil, she is also a member of the Forbes Coaches Council, an invitation-only organization for business and career coaches. In addition, she has served as an adjunct professor of management at Rice University, North Central College, Aurora University and Benedictine University.

Having graduated from A&S in 1992 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, Connell reconnected with the college in 2019 as a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board. With a passion for supporting students, she created The Shannon Finn Connell Family Endowed Scholarship. During the pandemic, she directed her support to funding that could become available to students who needed immediate support to help keep them enrolled, and on a path to graduation.

“Over the past two years, students have needed more support than ever," Connell said. "Our philanthropic focus was to make an impact on the students in greatest need, to mitigate economic hardships some students faced at a disproportionate level during the pandemic. Staying in school was not easy for everyone, and we are honored to know that our efforts made a difference in support of equity and inclusion.”

Charles Barnett, '71, history

A&S Special Achievement award winner and history grad Charles Barnett.

A&S Special Achievement award winner and history grad Charles Barnett.

Barnett will receive the Special Achievement award, given to an alumnus with notable achievement in their field, continued service, and involvement with the university and the community.

In a career spanning more than 40 years, Barnett served in many leadership roles, particularly in the health care industry. Under his leadership as president and CEO, the Austin, TX Seton Healthcare Family grew from a $200 million to a $2.5 billion organization. At Ascension Health, Barnett was instrumental in the integration of Alexian Brothers Health System and Marian Health System, increasing Ascension Health’s assets to $26 billion. Barnett also served as vice president and COO of Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, VA.

Having earned his master’s and bachelor’s degrees in history from A&S, Barnett points to his experiences at UC as being formative in his career, exposing him to medical literature that altered the way he looked at U.S. health care.

Brande Victorian, '07, journalism

A&S Outstanding Young Alumni Award recipient and journalism grad Brande Victorian.

A&S Outstanding Young Alumni Award recipient and journalism grad Brande Victorian.

Victorian will receive the Outstanding Young Alumni award, which is designated for an alumnus under age 40 with significant achievements in their field, and who is actively involved with the university.

After starting her career in medical publishing, Victorian started over as a freelancer with MadameNoire, where she became lead editor. There, she told stories that intentionally celebrated Black women's achievements, and the diversity of the Black female voice and experiences.

After eight years, she moved to Essence Magazine, where she serves as senior entertainment editor. Victorian has been profiled by Pose magazine, and featured on Jezebel and on the talk show The Real. She also has been invited to share her thoughts on Black women and culture with ESPNW, Yahoo!, News Live, Pix 11, CBS Radio, The Cheddar Life, and the Root.

While in medical publishing, Victorian was the first woman and African-American editor-in-chief of The Hearing Journal. She was also honored by the American Society of Healthcare Publication Editors for her reporting.

Of her award, Victorian says: "Realizing I am a Black woman journalist who was chosen to be recognized by a predominantly white institution among so many worth alumni was a moment I never knew to dream about, and it only reinforced the pride I have in choosing to study at the University of Cincinnati."

The event also will recognize the impact donors make for A&S students each year by providing more than $1,258,000 in scholarships. 

A Night With A&S will be held April 6 at 6 p.m. at Tangeman University Center, Great Hall, 2600 Clifton Ave. The event is complimentary but registration is required by March 28, and guests may register here.

Featured image at top: Aerial view of UC's Uptown west campus.