UC’s College of Arts and Sciences honors outstanding alumni

Event also showcases A&S scholarship recipients, donors

Four graduates of UC’s College of Arts and Sciences were recognized with alumni awards during the A Night with A&S annual ceremony earlier this month. As community leaders, philanthropists and professional pioneers, the impact of these alumni can be felt at the college, university, state and national levels.

Also at the event A&S scholarship recipients were celebrated, and had the opportunity to meet with the donors whose contributions helped make their college experience possible.

Meet the 2023 UC College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Alumni:

Shakila Tanveer Ahmad, Distingiushed Alumni Award, Mathematics '82

Shakila Tanveer Ahmad, Distinguished Alumni Award

Shakila Tanveer Ahmad, Distinguished Alumni Award

Each year, the Distinguished Alumni Award is given to an alumnus in recognition of their outstanding accomplishments in their chosen field, and their significant contributions benefiting their community, state, nation, college or university.

The 2023 Distinguished Alumni Award for the UC College of Arts and Sciences recognized Shakila Tanveer Ahmad, a 1982 graduate from the mathematics program.

Ahmad is an enthusiastic community leader who has dedicated herself for over 25 years to numerous civic and community causes. She is starting her role as Board Chair of Cincinnati COMPASS where she connects immigrants and the community for a larger purpose. Joining the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati (ICGC) as its youngest board member in 1995, she recently served for five years as Board Chair and President for the Center — the first woman to serve in this capacity nationally.

Educating the community about Islam

Ahmad established ICGC’s Tours and Talks, a program that has reached more than 100,000 people in its mission is to educate members of the community about Islam and Muslims. She spearheaded the creation of an educational DVD, A Visit to a Mosque in America, to increase understanding of Islam and the Muslim community in the United States. This award-winning short film has aired nationally and internationally and continues to be used in academic, business, faith and law enforcement communities.

Ahmad was the founding Chair of ICGC’s Muslim Mothers Against Violence initiative and the Bullies & Victims program as the President of the Academy of Medicine Alliance of Cincinnati. She is a dedicated supporter of interfaith and outreach efforts and has served as Board Chair of BRIDGES for a Just Community and subsequent human relations work under EQUASION.

Though her groundbreaking work began pre-9/11, she subsequently stepped up her efforts through law enforcement cultural competency and was instrumental in establishing an FBI MultiCultural Advisory Task Force to better serve the needs of minority communities in their relationship with the FBI. She was recognized at the national level with the FBI Community Leadership Award.

Ahmad has served on national boards including the Muslim Jewish Advisory Council (MJAC), the Islamic Networks Group, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, the Ohio Humanities Council, YWCA Greater Cincinnati, the United Way of Greater Cincinnati, Xavier University, Thomas More Institute of Religious Liberty, and the University of Cincinnati Foundation.

Giving time, talent and treasure

Ahmad frequently gives her time, talent and treasure to the community and her alma mater, serving on the UC Foundation board and since 2015, and on the UC Bicentennial Community Connections Committee. She was instrumental in setting up the Malik Islamic Studies Professorship at the College of Arts and Sciences, setting the stage for educating generations to come.

Ahmad’s awards for civic and community engagement include the 2001 Cincinnati Enquirer Woman of the Year, the 2014 Women to Watch, 2014 Lighthouse Beacon of Light Humanitarian Award, 2015 Leadership Cincinnati Distinguished Alumni, 2016 Hebrew Union College Friendship Award, 2018 YWCA Racial Justice Award and an honorary PhD from Mount St. Joseph University in 2019.

Ahmad has also held a professional career as the business director at the Allergy & Asthma Specialty Center before transitioning the organization to a large national group after 30 years of management.

William Van Wie, Special Achievement, Geology PhD '71, '76

William Van Wie, A&S Alumi Special Achievement Award

William Van Wie, A&S Alumi Special Achievement Award

The special achievement award is given to an A&S alumnus for notable achievement in their field, continued service, and involvement with the university and community.

The 2023 Special Achievement Award recognized William A. Van Wie, who earned his master’s and doctoral degrees from the Department of Geology in 1971 and 1976, respectively.

Originally from Albany, N.Y., Van Wie attended St. Lawrence University, earning a bachelor’s degree in Geology in 1967. Afterward, he was accepted to study sedimentology at UC. 

Van Wie received financial support from teaching assistantships, research grants and fellowships, facilitating his study under professors Wayne Pryor, Paul Potter, Warren Huff and Kenneth Caster. 

Van Wie knew he wanted to be a geologist early on, becoming immediately enamored with the field upon taking his first course at St. Lawrence. After speaking with colleagues, he knew he needed to pursue advanced degrees and was encouraged to consider UC for its highly regarded geology program. 

Eventually he worked for industry leaders such as Chevron, Pennzoil and Amerada Hess before joining Devon Energy Corp. in 1999. He rose to senior vice president, a role he held until retirement in 2010. Van Wie currently serves his profession as an advisory board member for the American Geosciences Institute, is a former board member of the National Ocean Industries Association, and a former Vice Chair of the Independent Petroleum Association for the American Association of Petroleum Geologists.

Van Wie’s most notable career achievement was being part of several oil and gas discoveries in the Gulf of Mexico where he participated in the industry transition from drilling on the shelf and moving into deeper waters exceeding 10,000 feet. Utilizing innovations in geophysics and engineering enabled industry to expand the Countries resource base to great levels. It was this application of technology to exploring and producing oil and gas that excited him most. 

Though Van Wie made many contributions in his professional field, he has always found time to support his local community. He has been a leader of several organizations in the Houston area, including as a member of the Boards of Directors for the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Houston and the Salvation Army. He is currently on the Board of Trustees for Trees for Houston, having previously served as President and Chair. Trees for Houston plants 50,000 tree per year in the Houston area. 

  Van Wie has continuously supported the graduate and undergraduate geology programs at UC, including most recently the Geology Alumni Graduate Fellowship Endowment Fund which supports student research.  

Richard and Burton Roehr, Philantropist of the Year, Business Administration '59 and Early European History, '59

Richard and Burton Roehr, A&S Philanthropists of the Year, 2023

Richard and Burton Roehr, A&S Philanthropists of the Year, 2023

The Philanthropist of the Year Award is given to an alumnus who has been highly engaged in philanthropic activities at A&S or made a significant impact in the college.

The 2023 Philanthropist of the Year Award recognized Richard and Burton Roehr. Each are 1959 grads — Dick in Business Administration from the Lindner College of Business and Burt in Early European History from the College of Arts and Sciences.

The Roehrs’ philanthropy with UC began long ago. Before becoming members of the Herman Schneider Legacy Society, they established scholarships for first-generation college students in both of their home colleges.

When Dick retired from Fortis Benefits in 1996, the company awarded him $10,000 for a UC endowment. When asked the reason for their ongoing support of UC, Dick and Burt said, “We truly understand the need and are pleased that we can continue to provide financial assistance to students at UC. We were both very active while we attended UC and made terrific friends we still see and visit. UC gave us a lot, and we want to contribute to the positive experience of others.”

The Roehrs live in Montgomery. Their two daughters pursued careers in education and have given Dick and Burt three grandchildren.

Ashley Nkadi, Outstanding Young Alumus Award, Neuroscience 2016

Ashley Nkadi, Outstanding Young Alumni Award

Ashley Nkadi, Outstanding Young Alumni Award

The Outstanding Young Alumni Award is given to a graduate of the last decade who has significant achievements within their chosen field of endeavor and is also actively involved with UC in some capacity.

The 2023 Outstanding Young Alumni Award recognized Ashley Nkadi, a Cincinnatus Presidential Scholar graduate who earned a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience in 2016.

As an undergrad student, Nkadi held leadership positions in numerous organizations, including president of UC’s chapter of Omicron Delta Kappa and United Black Student Association. She was a student government campaign manager for Mitchell Phelps and Brooke Duncan. She founded and was the editor-in-chief for Noir Magazine, and finally, the co-founder of ‘The Irate 8,’ a student-activist movement on UC’s campus formed in response to the fatal police shooting of Samuel Dubose.

Nkadi’s interest in social justice catalyzed when she co-founded The Irate 8. Now, she leverages her background in neuroscience, digital strategy, organizing, and DEI to create strategic communications and digital content for organizations, businesses, campaigns and universities. 

Even before graduation, Nkadi was publicly speaking, hosting workshops and participating in panels about activism, social injustices and racial equality. Organizations she has spoken to include the Cincinnati Social Media Week, the NAACP, The Diversity and Inclusion Conference, Miami University and the Student Government Fall Retreat.

After graduation, Nkadi worked and organized with Black Youth Project 100 as a Communications Manager and at the Movement for Black Lives (M4BL) as a Digital Strategist. In her work with M4BL, she served as the digital lead on the BREATHE Act, a modern-day Civil Rights Act. During this time, Nkadi was also crowned Miss Black Ohio. 

Currently, Nkadi writes about social justice, identity, race and politics for publications such as GQ, Playboy, Teen Vogue, The Root, and Essence Magazine. 

She now attends the University of Cincinnati College of Law, where she serves as the Student Bar Association president, a structured study group leader, and a fellow at the Nathaniel R. Jones Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice. She will start her legal career after graduation as an intellectual property associate at Frost Brown Todd, a top-ranked law firm. 

Nkadi’s work has been recognized in the classroom, across UC’s campus and beyond. She has numerous awards for her stellar academic performance and student involvement. In 2016, she was awarded the Student Trailblazer Award at the Onyx & Ruby Gala hosted by the UC Alumni Association’s African American Alumni Affiliate. She has also received the Marian Spencer Equity Ambassador Award in 2017; the Leisan Smith Founders Award from the LGBTQ Center in 2017; and was a 30 Under 30 Award winner in 2020. 

Featured image at top: Aerial view of the University of Cincinnati's Uptown campus.

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