Alumna of the Year
The highest honor given by the Alumni Association. This award is presented to a graduate who is of good character and is held in high esteem by his/her associates and has brought credit upon him/herself and the College.
Deborah Lanius Cameron ’75
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Alumna of the Year Debi Lanius Cameron ’75 sees her experiences on the Hill as a gift the College gave to her — one she has generously paid forward in her career, service and life.
Whether meeting new challenges as a finance and business planning manager for Verizon or serving on more than a dozen different McDaniel committees — including as president of the Alumni Association — or even consistent volunteering for soccer organizations, Sunday school and elementary school, Cameron lives the lessons and mission of her alma mater. She considers the gift McDaniel gave her far greater than the checks she wrote for tuition.
“Good friends, the background to build a good career — how can you not say thank you for those gifts?” says Cameron, whose service to the College earned her the Meritorious Service Award in 1990. “So each year I prepare my thank you for McDaniel. Some part of that is the time I donate but another part is in the form of a check.
“The time portion I donate gives back to current issues, but the check provides McDaniel the opportunity to give another gift to a student.”
At every turn in her time at McDaniel, the Political Science and International Studies major had to communicate. She had to write, whether it was a lab report in Biology or an essay on Ghandi’s influence on Martin Luther King. She learned to delve more deeply, be open to a variety of opinions and evaluate different points of view.
“While at McDaniel I received mentoring at its finest,” says Cameron, whose father, Walter Lanius, is a member of the class of 1950. “From the professors to the administration to the admissions office — all wanted ‘their’ students to succeed. If that meant office hours on a day they had no classes or a Saturday, they were there for us.
“I hope I offered that same mentoring to the people I was lucky enough to work with.”
Now retired, she spent her entire 35-year career at Verizon — and rose to every challenge that came her way by relying on skills she perfected at McDaniel. The company offered Cameron, who earned an M.B.A. at Loyola College, opportunities that made job changes seem like career changes. She designed a work stoppage database even though she had no programming background and managed the $250 million budget for a portfolio of Operations software projects. She also managed a forensic audit team that reviewed billing for large customers to ensure accuracy. The team spanned interdisciplinary departments and ultimately fixed the issue causing the miss-billing and recovered millions of dollars.
Cameron coordinated, chaired and directed committees and projects on the Hill and in her community. She volunteered for phonathons, baseball concession stands, reading days and after-prom food. In 2010, the Maryland State Association of Baseball Coaches named her Woman of the Year.
Communication, problem-solving skills, mentoring — and friends. Lifelong, always-there-for-you friends. They came from different high schools but seemed to share something special on the Hill, something that Cameron, a member of Phi Mu sorority, says can’t be described in words.
“It might be because we grew up together at McDaniel. It might even be something in the water, but whatever it is we have hung together for more than 40 years,” she says. “We have traveled the world together, raised families together and more importantly talked about all kinds of things.
“We don’t always agree but we are always friends.”
Alumni College Service Award
Presented to graduates who have demonstrated exceptional leadership, devotion and service for the betterment of the College Alumni Association.
Alex Ober ’63, M.Ed. ’69
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Alex Ober ’63, M.Ed. ’69 has been elemental to the academic and community life of the College for nearly six decades. A professor emeritus of Exercise Science and Physical Education (now Kinesiology) with a Ph.D. from University of Maryland, he retired from the full-time faculty in 2008, but continued teaching one course per year for McDaniel’s Graduate Program until 2014. His expertise in sports history, biomechanics and sports literature resulted in publications in scholarly journals and in courses popular with both undergraduate and graduate students. His Jan Term course on C.S. Lewis’ Narnia Chronicles, offered for 30 years, underscored his inherent appreciation of the liberal arts.
Throughout his career, Alex has influenced hundreds of student-athletes as the former head coach of men’s basketball, lacrosse and tennis (he even coached football early on.) During his 17-year tenure as Head Basketball Coach his teams won 185 games, which currently ranks him as the College’s winningest men’s basketball coach. He was inducted into the College’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2010.
Alex served the College in many leadership roles in various capacities, including Exercise Science Department Chair, Faculty Committee Chair, Faculty Ombudsman and College Marshall. In retirement, one of Alex’s greatest joys has been his engagement with the McDaniel College Alumni Association as a member of reunion committees, as a member of the Alumni Association Presidential Task Force, and as President of the Alumni Council. Serving as Council President has led to participation in numerous campus projects, many involving current McDaniel students who will soon be our new alumni leaders. In the wider community, Alex is active with Torch International and has been able to share his “Torch Talk” on WMC graduate and WWII hero, Colonel Paul Levern Bates ’31, with several local civic organizations.
Alumni Community Service Award
Presented to a graduate who has performed outstanding voluntary service to their community beyond normal business or professional obligations.
Dr. Ginny Merryman ’76
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Dr. Ginny Merryman ’76 has built a 25-year career as an obstetrician and gynecologist in a two-doctor practice based at Greater Baltimore Medical Center (GBMC) in Towson, Md., where she is also a member of the Gynecology Advisory Board and the OB Quality Assurance Committee. President of both her Phi Alpha Mu sorority and her class during her senior year on the Hill, the Biology major earned an M.S. in Pathology from University of Maryland and an M.D. from Vanderbilt University. She worked as a pathologist’s assistant in surgical pathology for two years and completed two years of internal medicine training before completing an OB/GYN residency at GBMC and entering private practice.
Despite her demanding career, Dr. Merryman has made community service a priority. She has been a mentor for the Girls Empowerment Movement, has served on several Friends of Haiti mission trips, most recently in 2013, and was a visiting professor for Clinton Global Health in Rwanda in 2014. Her care and attention to training young doctors was recognized by the Hopkins Residency Program with the Teacher of the Year Award in 2005 and she has been recognized as a Top Doctor by Baltimore Magazine. Dr. Merryman lives in Upperco, Md.
Alumni Professional Achievement Awards
Presented to a graduate who has gained distinction in his/her chosen field or profession and whose accomplishments reflect admirably on McDaniel College
Randy Day ’77
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Randy Day is the Chief Executive Officer of Perdue Farms and serves on the company’s Board of Directors. He is the fourth CEO in the company’s nearly 100-year history and the second who is not a member of the Perdue family.
Since joining Perdue Farms in 1980, Day has held various positions of increasing responsibility in the company’s two operating divisions, Perdue Foods and Perdue AgriBusiness. He began his career in distribution and sales in foods before advancing into executive level positions in quality assurance, product development and logistics. Day was named Chief Operating Officer in 2016 and was previously president of Perdue Foods since February 2015.
Day joined McDaniel College’s Board of Trustees in 2017. He was honored as a 2018 Influential Marylander by The Daily Record and as the 2017 Agriculture Ambassador of the Year in recognition of his work to support Maryland’s agriculture industry. He also serves on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee for the National Chicken Council.
A native of the Eastern Shore of Maryland and a graduate of Easton High School, he received a bachelor’s degree in Biology in 1977. He was a member of the Alpha Gamma Tau fraternity at McDaniel, and was involved with the football and track and field teams. He earned a master’s degree in Poultry Nutrition from the University of Maryland, College Park, and completed the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School. He resides in Salisbury, Md., with his wife, Debbie Scalzone Day ’79. They have three children and three grandchildren.
Dr. Nicki Pesik ’86
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Dr. Nicki Pesik ’86 is the Associate Director for infectious disease preparedness at the Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She oversees this Center’s domestic preparedness, global health and One Health portfolio These efforts include working with other countries to improve their capacity to prevent and respond to infectious disease outbreaks. In this role, Dr. Pesik supervises and mentors public health advisors, budget analysts, medical and veterinary officers. She helped keep the nation safe during Africa’s Ebola outbreak and worked as the senior CDC official for Zika virus response in Atlanta and Puerto Rico.. She has published numerous articles, book chapters and abstracts, and has been recognized multiple times by the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration for excellence in leadership. In 2006, she received the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary’s Award for Distinguished Service for her leadership during the response to Hurricane Katrina,
Dr. Pesik graduated summa cum laude from McDaniel with a degree in Biology and was a five-time Academic All American athlete in softball and volleyball. She served three years of military service with the virology division of the U.S. Army Research Institute of Infectious Diseases before earning magna cum laude honors from University of Maryland School of Medicine. She completed her residency at the University of Cincinnati Department of Emergency Medicine, where she was an aeromedical flight physician. Prior to joining the CDC, she was an assistant professor at Emory University School of Medicine’s Department of Emergency Medicine, where she taught in the Domestic Preparedness Program. Dr. Pesik and her partner, Theresa Larkin, live in Decatur, Ga.
Young Alumni Award
Adam C. Pritchard ’09
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Adam C. Pritchard is a paleontologist working to record a number of undescribed reptile species and their relationship to the earliest reptile species from over 240 million years ago as a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Smithsonian Institution. He also hosts, produces and writes for “Past Time,” a podcast about natural history, including new discoveries and the scientists who study them.
Pritchard, who has had a love for dinosaurs since the age of two, graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Biology from McDaniel in 2009 and was a member of the Beta Beta Beta Biology Honors Society. He earned a Ph.D. in Anatomical Sciences from Stony Brook University in New York, where he worked as a research and teaching assistant. He was formerly a Postdoctoral researcher at Yale University.
A member of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology and the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology, his work has been published in Nature Communications, Current Biology, Royal Society Open Science and the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. He is the recipient of grants from the National Geographic Foundation, the National Science Foundation and the Geological Society of America.
He currently resides in Silver Spring, Md., with his wife Ashleigh Smith Pritchard ’10.