BGSU Firelands Leadership Council
Lee A. Alexakos is the vice president of community relations for Cedar Fair Entertainment Company. Lee is responsible for Cedar Fair Charities Inc. and coordination of all marketing programs on the national and regional level. Her responsibilities also include government relations and communications and economic development initiatives relating to public/private partnerships and tourism infrastructure.
Alexakos has more than 30 years of experience in marketing at Cedar Point and at the corporate level including planning, marketing strategy, advertising, pricing, sales, digital marketing, public relations, and promotions. Following the acquisition of Paramount Parks in 2006, Alexakos was instrumental in implementing Cedar Fair marketing programs across all the parks and maximizing synergies and efficiencies with emphasis on the advertising program.
Alexakos is past chairwoman of the board of directors for the Erie County Chamber of Commerce, recipient of the Chamber’s Chairman’s Award, and serves on boards for the Firelands Regional Medical Center, BGSU Firelands Development , Firelands Symphony Orchestra, and Teen Leadership Corps. She also serves on the Leadership Council for Cleveland Clinic’s Children’s Hospital and is a member of the Sandusky Ohio Bicentennial Commission, Lake Erie Improvement Association, and the Erie County Business PAC. She previously served on the board of directors for Sandusky Central Catholic Schools, Sandusky Central Catholic Foundation, Erie County Chamber of Commerce, and the Sandusky Area YMCA. She is a Leadership Erie County graduate and was named a Woman of Excellence for Erie County in 2011. In 2014 she received the BGSU College Alumni Award and was recognized as a Greater Cleveland Woman of Professional Excellence.
Alexakos attended BGSU Firelands and earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration from BGSU.
She and her husband have two children.
Larry Bettcher is the retired chairman and CEO of Bettcher Industries, Inc., Birmingham, Ohio, an innovative world leader in the design and manufacture of food processing equipment and cutting tools.
Before transitioning to an employee-owned company upon Bettcher’s retirement in 2014, Bettcher Industries had been a family-owned enterprise since the company was founded by Louis Bettcher in 1944. Bettcher’s retirement capped a 56-year career at Bettcher Industries, during which time he was an integral part of the company’s growth and expansion in key industry categories including meat and food processing, industrial manufacturing, and medical instrumentation.
Bettcher has been an avid supporter of BGSU Firelands, having served on the BGSU Firelands College Advisory Board from 2000 to 2004 and currently serves on the BGSU Firelands Development Board since 2011. He is actively involved on the board and is praised for his strategic thinking and leadership. During his tenure on BGSU Firelands boards and with his leadership, the College conducted successful capital campaigns for the construction of the Cedar Point Center and Phase I of the Allied Health & Sciences Project.
Bettcher is a generous supporter of BGSU Firelands and has contributed to capital campaigns, including a significant gift to the Allied Health & Sciences Project, as well as scholarship initiatives. He and his wife, Karen, created and endowed the Larry & Karen Bettcher Scholarship.
The Bettcher and his wife reside in Vermilion.
Kathleen Linz ’72 is a proud graduate of BGSU and, like many fellow alumni, she met her ‘Falcon Flame’ at the college; but her family tree boasts many more branches linked to BGSU.
The Linz’s family history with BGSU Firelands and BGSU dates back three generations, beginning with Margaret Linz ’65, ‘69. Having changed careers and started college later in life, Margaret attended as a nontraditional student and raised a child while she was taking classes - first in Sandusky and then later at the BG campus. Margaret earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in education and her passion and love for BGSU created the foundation for other Linz family members to later follow.
According to Kathleen, Margaret’s studies had a strong impact on her son, Anthony J. Linz ’71, ‘06. “He often accompanied his mother to BGSU and would wait in the library while she attended her classes,” said Kathleen of her future husband.
Anthony eventually followed in his mother’s footsteps and studied at BGSU Firelands before earning a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in public administration, both from the BG campus. It was while he attended classes at the BGSU Firelands campus that he met his future wife, Kathleen. They would marry in 1973.
Kathleen and Anthony remained active with their alma mater. Following a fulfilling and successful career in pulmonary/critical care, Anthony accepted the position of medical director of the BGSU Firelands respiratory care program in 1983. He was also an adjunct faculty member for both campus. Anthony received the BGSU Firelands Distinguished Alumni Award and was posthumously awarded the BGSU Firelands 50th Anniversary Award in 2015.
Kathleen and Anthony are also credited with creating the Margaret J. Linz Legacy Scholarship to honor the educational impact Margaret had on the community. Established in 2011, the Margaret J. Linz Legacy Scholarship annually provides support to nontraditional education majors.
The couple also ensured the Linz family legacy at BGSU would continue by encouraging their two children to attend the University. Tony Linz ‘01 graduated with a bachelor’s degree in health administration and Sara Linz ’03 with a bachelor’s degree in dietetics.
Not to be upstaged by his parents, and adding another branch to the Linz Family BGSU tree, Tony met his ‘Falcon Flame’ and future wife, Kristy Wetzel ‘01, while attending BGSU. They married in 2005.
Three generations of Linz family members have attended and graduated from BGSU, but there may be more. “We are looking forward to the next generation of BGSU Firelands and BGSU alumni,” said Kathleen in reference to her grandchildren, A.J. and Grace.
When Kathleen’s husband Anthony passed away in 2015, she was eager to honor his memory and created a second scholarship opportunity - the Anthony J. Linz Memorial Scholarship in Respiratory Care. Collectively, the two family scholarships ensure the memory and legacy of the Linz family will offer generations of students the opportunity for a quality BGSU education.
Today, Kathleen remains committed to supporting BGSU Firelands through the new Allied Health & Sciences Project. The construction and renovation project represents a $16 million investment in the future of health care education and a commitment on behalf of BGSU to satisfy the growing need for the education of healthcare professionals in our community.
In December, Kathleen provided a $200,000 capital gift toward the project to fund a completion of a respiratory care lecture room and a respiratory care laboratory. “Anthony would be proud of the progress BGSU Firelands has made in the areas of science and technology, and this gift honors his contributions to the field of respiratory care,” said Kathleen.
With generations of family members as alumni, educational leadership and instruction provided to the campus community, and generous contributions to the continued success of BGSU Firelands students, the Linz family name has become a hallmark of the campus and will not soon be forgotten.
‘I wish I could do it all over again.’ It’s a phrase everyone has muttered from time to time; but unfortunately, the true opportunities to experience again the joys of a specific event or activity are rare. This was not the case for Bowling Green State University Firelands College Associate Professor Cindy Miglietti who is currently completing her second Fulbright Scholarship in the Czech Republic.
Miglietti has always harbored a strong desire to teach in a foreign country and her first trip to the Czech Republic was a wonderful experience, but she admits that the time passed too quickly. After completing her first Fulbright Scholarship in 2005, she never imagined that she would be returning eight years later.
“A colleague I befriended at the Silesian University who is now the Vice Chancellor had been asking me for several years to return. The timing seemed right and I am delighted to have the opportunity to return,” said Miglietti who has more than 26 years of experience in accounting and finance instruction.
During both Fulbright experiences, Miglietti was a Visiting Professor of Finance at Silesian University School of Business Administration in Karviná. On her current trip, she is teaching undergraduate classes in principles of finance and corporate finance and a master level class in international finance. All of her classes are taught in English.
In addition, she aided in the execution and planning of the bi-annual international conference for business faculty which was held in the Czech Republic in October. She was a member of the Scientific Programme Committee and was the Chair for one of the presentation sessions.
Returning to the Czech Republic has given Miglietti the chance to reunite with friends and colleagues and to enjoy some of the advancements the University has experienced.
“There have been many changes since I first visited,” said Miglietti. “They are now painting buildings in bright colors and they upgraded the façade of the University,” added Miglietti.
Student habits and trends have also evolved. Miglietti believes that Czech students are much like their American counterparts, but even more so since her last visit to the country. During her current visit, she has noticed that Czech students are now much more technologically advanced.
“Until recently, hand held electronic devices were not affordable here, but now students are all ‘connected’ to their computers, tablets, and phones,” said Miglietti, who has been the Chair of the Applied Sciences Department at BGSU Firelands since 2006. “These devices have long been a challenge for faculty members in the U.S. when trying to maintain the attention of students, and now Czech instructors must deal with the same distractions.”
For Miglietti, traveling abroad is a passion. She truly enjoys the Czech Republic and specifically has enjoyed touring and visiting castles. “The history of the country is so rich and goes back for centuries. The history of America is relatively short in comparison so we don’t have cities, monuments, or castles that are hundreds of years old,” said Miglietti.
Miglietti also has great respect for the Fulbright Scholarship program which has enabled her to travel to the Czech Republic not once but twice.
“The Fulbright Scholarship program is mutually beneficial,” said Miglietti. “It allows faculty to participate in an international exchange that provides benefits to the faculty, their home university, and the foreign university.”
“My own benefits derive from being submerged in a non-Western university structure, where I can learn the unique vantage points and challenges of teaching, advising, and nurturing students in their intellectual and cultural milieu,” added Miglietti.
Miglietti, the recipient of the 2003 BGSU Firelands Distinguished Teacher Award and the 2007 BGSU Firelands Distinguished Creative Scholar Award, will also bring enrichment back to the states when she returns. “I will have current international business knowledge that I can offer to our students and I will be equipped with fresh ideas for improving outreach and retention of culturally diverse students.”
During her two visits, Miglietti has developed a strong personal and professional relationship with the faculty of the Silesian University School of Business Administration. In 2007, she worked with one Czech Republic faculty member to earn a Fulbright Scholarship to the United States. The faculty member taught at Lake Superior College in Duluth, Minn., but he also came to speak at BGSU Firelands.
“It was satisfying to see the program come full circle; to witness BGSU Firelands students gain knowledge and instruction from one of my Czech Republic colleagues,” said Miglietti.
In his 35 years of teaching psychology at BGSU Firelands, Dr. Christopher Mruk’s impact on his students and on the academic environment has been profound. In all his activities — whether in the undergraduate or graduate classroom, in outreach, in research and publishing or in counseling — Mruk brings a level of commitment, caring and connection that has made him a role model for others.
In honor of his contributions, Mruk was named a professor of teaching excellence at the April 14 Faculty Excellence Awards. The honor is designated for faculty members who hold the rank of full professor and whose extraordinary achievements as effective teachers in their discipline or in interdisciplinary fields deserve special recognition. Mruk will hold the title for three years and receive an annual stipend of $5,000, which includes $2,000 per year for professional development.
A specialist in clinical psychology, Mruk came to teaching mid-career, after he had established himself working in a variety of settings that included a drug addiction program in Detroit, as a crisis-intervention therapist in one of the nation’s first two National Institute of Mental Health-funded psychiatric services, and directing a college counseling center in Pennsylvania.
“Then, I discovered teaching and came to Firelands to fulfill a dream, namely, giving people a different type of new chance in life,” he said. As a faculty member, he has utilized the perspective and experience he gained to achieve that dream, which is manifested in his many students who have gone on to successful careers in psychology.
Travis Skelly, a BGSU Firelands alumnus who is now a case manager with Firelands Counseling and Recovery, wrote of Mruk, “His overall quality of instruction at all levels of curriculum, commitment to research, and willingness to work with students on upper-level scholarship are just a few reasons that he deserves this award.” As a student, Skelly was encouraged by Mruk to develop his ideas on self-esteem and multiculturalism, which led to a co-authored paper. “Not only has Dr. Mruk been an academic mentor to me but he also has invested in my personal development by providing several opportunities beyond the classroom, such as training seminars and lectureships. He is a support for me as I work in mental health and continue to pursue academia.”
Another former student, now an associate professor and program director in Graduate Studies in Counseling at Heidelberg College, articulated the lifelong impact Dr. Mruk’s teaching has had on her pursuit of higher education and a career, writing,
“His classes clearly presented not only psychological theory but by the end of the semester, he had managed to instill a love for learning and passion for psychological thought.”
Mruk’s role at Firelands has been a bit unusual in that he is among a small group who are members not only of the undergraduate faculty there but also of BGSU’s Graduate College, involving them in the full range of university teaching. In teaching undergraduates, he is known for nurturing in them the critical thinking skills so important to success in graduate school.
He was responsible for designing, setting up, and supervising a small, free counseling center at the college for a number of years that was staffed by his doctoral interns from the Bowling Green campus psychology department. Along with providing experience for the students, “His recognition of this longstanding need on our campus and efforts to meet this need reflect his commitment to student well-being,” said nominator Dr. Kate Dailey, associate professor and chair of the humanities department.
“Dr. Mruk has routinely put innovative teaching into practice by publishing software lessons on abnormal behavior and teaching one of BGSU's first online courses in 1997,” said Dr. Cynthia Miglietti, associate professor and chair of the applied sciences department. “He has always been one of the first teachers to employ new technologies. Additionally, he keeps up with new developments and clinical practices in the field and obtains at least 23 continuing education credits for psychologists every two years.
“He is known by his peers to be innovative and engaging in the classroom, finding and then sharing with his colleagues new methods for strengthening student participation, confidence, and success,” said Firelands Dean Andrew Kurtz.
“Dr. Mruk is also a vanguard for maintaining and improving the quality of our academic courses and programs, an equally critical role for someone deserving of this recognition. It is not surprising, then,that Chris has twice won the Distinguished Teaching Award at BGSU Firelands and been a finalist on several other occasions. On a campus where teaching is the highest priority for all faculty members, this is an extremely competitive and coveted honor.”
“The talent and expertise he displays in the classroom has corresponded with the status he has achieved as an eminent scholar, allowing him to creatively incorporate his research into his lectures, assignments and research projects,” wrote his nominators from the humanities department. “Dr. Mruk has authored five books, written six book chapters, and published 20 articles in professional journals; all in the areas of self-esteem, positive psychology and Zen and psychotherapy. In the courses he teaches, students have access to an internationally renowned scholar whose sense of humility endears him to those students fortunate enough to cross his path.”
Mruk continues to bring teaching excellence as an educator in the professional field. “His expertise is often sought by employees and agencies including psychologists, nurses, social workers, counselors and case managers to lecture, train and consult. With the heavy teaching load required of BGSU Firelands faculty, and his active research work, this additional commitment to his profession is admirable,” Dailey said.
D. Craig Rathbun began his educational journey at Bowling Green State University, earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1983. After graduating, he was employed by Ernst & Whinney’s (Ernst & Young) Management Consulting Group, specializing in production and operations. He later joined his family’s business, Venture Packaging, as operations manager.
The lessons learned at a closely-held corporation served as a sound basis for two other future companies. In 1999, as a partner in Encore Plastics, Rathbun, along with his siblings and a friend, grew a start-up company from seven employees to more than 300 within three manufacturing facilities. Encore manufactures paint sundry products for national retailers such as Lowe’s, Menards, Sherwin-Williams and Walmart.
In 2009, the partners financed a renewable energy company called SUREnergy. The goal was to find alternative ways to reduce Encore Plastics’ carbon footprint. Today, SUREnergy has evolved into providing grant writing, sourcing, installation, maintenance and consulting services to several national and international companies.
Rathbun is currently a member of the Firelands College Alumni Board and in 2016 received a College Alumni Award from BGSU.
Rathbun is part of a family with proud Falcon ties. His father, Willard, and two siblings, Tim ’84, ‘86 and Jodi, all attended BGSU. His wife, Jennifer ’85, and two of his children also attended BGSU.
Richard P. (Dick) Smith owns and operates a realty company in Milan and is a champion of education.
His advocacy for education began while serving in the United States Air Force in Vietnam where he was instrumental in rehabilitating and starting a reading program at the Don Bosco School and Orphanage.
After completing his tour of duty, Smith enrolled at BGSU Firelands. As a student, he was a member of the Society of the Flame, president of the Vietnam Veterans Club, and student body president. He also received the Links to Progress Award.
As a community leader, Smith is a past president of the Milan Chamber of Commerce and the Jaycees, a past council member for the Village of Milan, and a former board member of the Berlin/Milan Schools Citizenship and Education Foundation. He is also a life member of the VFW and Friends of Edison.
Smith has also maintained a close bond with his alma mater. He served on the BGSU Firelands College Advisory Board for ten years, was a member of the BGSU Continuing & Extended Education Advocates Board, and he currently serves on the BGSU Firelands Development Board and Capital Campaign. In 1997, Smith was awarded the Distinguished Alumnus Award for achievement in his vocation, service to his community, and commitment to BGSU Firelands.
Most recently, Smith established the endowed Richard P. “Dick” Smith BGSU Firelands Scholarship, which provides financial support to students on an annual basis, and he contributed to the Allied Health & Sciences Project.
Smith earned an associate of arts degree from BGSU Firelands.
Jacob D. Smith is the military and veteran liaison congressional assistant for US Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur.
Smith served in the United States Army from 2000-2004 as a field artilleryman and was deployed to Baghdad, Iraq, with the 1st Armored Division as a sergeant from 2003-2004.
He continues to serve his country through volunteer efforts with Cleveland Honor Flight, an organization which, through funding and support, enables veterans to travel to Washington D.C. to visit memorial sites.
Smith is also active with BGSU Firelands. He is a board member for the Alumni Association and The James H. McBride Arboretum. He also teaches ElderCollege courses.
He earned an associate degree from BGSU Firelands and a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in public administration, both from BGSU.
Smith resides in North Royalton with his wife, Lauren, and their daughter, Emily.
Judith Schroeder Sommers has committed her life to the advancement of education, earning a bachelor’s degree in elementary education in 1968 and a doctoral degree in school administration in 1995, both from Bowling Green State University. Her professional career includes nearly 40 years of experience in public education and higher education in Ohio and North Carolina. She has been published in several national journals, contributed a chapter on career counseling to a graduate textbook, and has presented workshops at a variety of national, state and local conferences.
A former Ohio School Counselor Association president, she has helped build successful programs that have won recognition, including Outstanding Career Education Program in Ohio and Most Innovative Guidance Program in Ohio. Among her many accolades, she was named Norwalk Teacher of the Year and received the Charles Weaver Distinguished Service Award and the Joan Goodwin School/Community Relations Award, also in in Ohio.
Sommers’ commitment to education goes well beyond her professional career. She has been a strong advocate and active participant in the success of BGSU and BGSU Firelands. She served as a BGSU Alumni Board member and an alumni chapter leader, is a past president and member of the BGSU Firelands Advisory Board, and past chair and member of the BGSU Firelands Development Board.
She currently serves as chair of the BGSU Firelands Capital Campaign Committee. She has received the BGSU Community Service Award and the BGSU Alumni Service Award.
Daniel J. White is the CEO of Norwalk Furniture, a manufacturer of high-end custom upholstery selling to a national and increasingly international market. He led an investor group to purchase Norwalk Furniture out of bankruptcy in 2008, returning the company to profitability in 2010 and doubling sales by 2012.
White was formerly president of Geotrac, one of the largest flood zone mapping companies in the United States and the first in its industry to open an operations center in India. Following the successful sale of Geotrac, White formed the Geotrac Foundation which recently committed a significant gift to the Allied Health & Sciences Project.
Along with other partners, White has founded a variety of companies, including SLK Software Services, a 5,000 person software engineer firm in Bangalore, India, designing complex software systems for clients worldwide; Poseidon, a scuba diving operation in the Lakshadweep Islands in the Arabian Sea, serving the growing Indian tourism sector; Chateau Derieux, a restored perfumers mansion in Grasse, France, operating as a vacation rental home; The Bead Co. U.K., a retail store in Glasgow, Scotland; The Potomac Bead Co., a retail store in Medina, Ohio; and The Lair, a multi-unit brownstone in Chicago.