Couple Surprised with President s Award for Excellence

Two donors have received a presidential surprise in return for their commitment to elevating the University of Cincinnati’s research and care in Parkinson’s Disease and other neurological diseases.

Interim President Beverly J. Davenport presented the President’s Award for Excellence to Peggy and Gary Johns, longtime members of the UC family. The award, given at the president’s discretion, recognizes individuals who have made a significant contribution to the purposes and ideals of the University of Cincinnati.

In her proclamation for the Johnses’ award, President Davenport noted that the couple had “ignited the hope of new cures, new treatments and the promise of relief for the many who suffer from neurological disorders.”

Without the couple’s support, the UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute would not have become the nationally regarded center of excellence that it is today.

The family’s commitment to neuroscience began when Peggy’s mother, Joan Gardner, became ill. Because of her mom’s affliction, Peggy’s father vowed to eradicate Parkinson’s Disease, a debilitating disease that spawns 60,000 new cases each year. The Gardner family grew in their determination to accelerate research and find better treatments for Parkinson’s patients and as a result the James J. and Joan A. Gardner Family Foundation contributed major support to establish UC’s Gardner Center for Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders.

Several years later,  the Gardner Foundation made another pivotal gift to neuroscience. This time it was a $14 million gift to establish a new home base for the UC Neuroscience Institute, which was recently renamed the UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute. 

Since the institute’s founding in 1998, it has grown and risen in stature. Today, it is building on its history with plans to enhance 11 centers with integrated patient care, increased research and greater community partnership.

Photo of dignataries attending the awards presentation.

Photo of dignataries attending the awards presentation.

Gary serves as president/CEO of the Gardner Family Foundation while Peggy serves as a trustee. In addition to their involvement with the Gardner Family Foundation, which was established by Peggy’s parents, Peggy and Gary are very involved in the Cincinnati community.

Gary grew up in St. Marys, Ohio, and has been a successful business leader and CEO/owner of G&W Products in Fairfield, Ohio. He is an alumnus of UC with a bachelor’s of business administration earned in 1983. Gary also is a Life Benefactor of the university and Founder of the Charles McMicken Society. He also has been very active as a UCATS director, member of the George Smith Society and the Black Blazer Committee. His previous UC service also includes membership on the Lindner College of Business Advisory Council, the college’s Alumni Board and its Annual Giving Committee. Since 2013, he also has been a member of the UC Foundation Board of Trustees.

In the Cincinnati area, Gary serves as a member of the World Presidents Organization and is a past member of the Young Presidents Organization. He is active with Cincinnati Works, the Cincinnati Regional Business Committee and Mary Magdalen House as well as a former board member of the United Way of Butler County, the Glendale Heritage Preservation Board and the Glendale Youth Sports Board.

Peggy grew up in Cincinnati, graduated from Ursuline Academy and attended the University of Dayton. She previously was co-owner of Snap Boutique clothing store in Hyde Park Square. She serves or has served as a board member or trustee of the Mary Magdalen Foundation, the Cincinnati Art Museum, Leadership Schools and the Association of Volunteers.

Peggy also has served as chair or co-chair of numerous organizations’ events and galas, including Cincinnati ShakeUp for Parkinson’s, Cincinnati Antiques Festival, the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur 175 Years Celebratory Dinner, Summit Country Day School annual auctions, and the Cincinnati Flower Show Opening Night Gala.


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