Marketing & Communications

The BGSU Academy of Distinguished Alumni

The BGSU Academy of Distinguished Alumni award is the highest honor bestowed by the University. Established in 2011, the award recognizes the extraordinary accomplishments of alumni who have made significant contributions to their professional field or philanthropic endeavors.

Historically, the Alumni Association celebrated these various achievements through the Accomplished Graduate Award, Alumni Service Award, Alumni Community Award, Honorary Alumnus Award and Recent Graduate Award. The ideals of leadership, charity and service symbolized by these awards continue with the Academy of Distinguished Alumni.

The members of the inaugural class of inductees are Joseph Philport ’75, Edward Reiter ’62, Linda Davis Watters ’75, and Jack Williams, Jr. ’79. They join the ranks of 49 honorees that reach back to 1960, when Eva Marie Saint ’46, ’82 became the first recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award.

The Academy of Distinguished Alumni will be held on Thursday, September 27, 2012 at 6 p.m. in the Lenhart Grand Ballroom, Bowen-Thompson Student Union. To attend or for further details, please call 888-839-2586 or visit the website.

Joseph Philport ’75
BGSU Graduate College

Joseph Philport, who earned a doctorate in media communications from BGSU, is president and CEO of Traffic Audit Bureau for Media Management Inc., based in New York City.

He joined TAB in September 2002, and since then has been the driving force behind the new EYES ON Ratings system for out-of-home media. The system’s release in 2010 heralded a new era in out-of-home media measurement as the first tool to move beyond traditional vehicular traffic data. The new tool was built using state of the art technologies including traffic engineering, survey research, global imaging systems, simulations and eye-tracking. He was awarded the Advertising Research Foundation's Gold 2009 Great Mind Award for innovation in research behind the EYES ON system.

Prior to TAB, he held executive positions at Arbitron, CMR, Nielsen, and AGB Television Research. In addition, he served as senior vice president and worldwide media research director at Young & Rubicam, where he was involved in both media and brand equity initiatives for clients such as Kraft General Foods, Clorox, Lincoln Mercury, AT&T, and Warner Lambert.

Philport began his career in academics, teaching at William Paterson College in New Jersey before moving on to both Miami University and the University of Maryland. In addition to his degree from BGSU, he holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from William Paterson College.

A frequent speaker at media industry forums, he co-chaired the Advertising Research Foundation’s Out-of-Home Media Measurement Day as part of the 2004 Worldwide Audience Measurement Conference in Geneva, Switzerland. His white paper, entitled "The Creative Heresy in Out of Home Audience Measurement," won the Best Paper Award at the 2005 Out-of-Home Measurement Day in Montreal, Canada. In addition, Philport played a pivotal role in creating the first television ratings service for Spanish-language programming.

He has been actively involved with the Association of American Advertising Agencies and with the Advertising Research Foundation, where he has been a member since 1980.

Edward Reiter ’62
College of Education and Human Development

If Edward Reiter's community needs him, he is there.

Reiter, retired Senior Chairman of Sky Financial Group, has been involved with dozens of boards and capital campaigns in northwest Ohio. He has been a member of the BGSU Alumni and Foundation Board of Trustees, the COSI Board of Directors, the Toledo Community Foundation Board, the Toledo Symphony Board and the United Way.

He is a former trustee for Owens Community College, Lourdes University, Davis College, the Toledo Area Chamber of Commerce, Cherry Street Mission and the Boys and Girls Club of Toledo. Reiter is a founding member of the University of Toledo Center for Family and Privately Held Business, was the general chair of northwest Ohio fund raising for the United Negro College Fund, and chair of the Toledo Area Regional Growth Partnership. This long list is only a small sampling of the civic activities that kept Reiter busy throughout his banking career.

After graduating from BGSU, he served in the U.S. Army from 1962 to 1964.

He taught for several years in area high schools before joining Mid American National Bank and Trust Company. He worked his way up to chief executive officer of Mid American, and served as senior chairman of Sky Financial (formerly Mid American) from 1998 to 2005.

Along the way, he received numerous awards for his business and civic activities. His BGSU honors include the Alumni Community Award in 1991, the Business Education Distinguished Alumni Award in 1992 and the Doyt Perry Award in 2000. He's also been honored as Executive of the Year for Northwest Ohio, and Outstanding Citizen by the city of Bowling Greenand received the New Hope Christian Foundation Lifetime Award for ethics in business and the National Bronze Award for "Financial World's" CEO of the Year, along with two honorary doctorates and numerous Hall of Fame awards.

In retirement he continues to be active in mentoring, speaking, and helping those in need. He and his wife, Linda, have two children and six grandchildren.

Linda Davis Watters ’75
College of Arts and Sciences

Linda Davis Watters is vice president of government relations at John Hancock Life Insurance in Boston, Mass. In this role, her focus is primarily on state legislative and regulatory concerns, as well as the company’s relationship with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

Prior to joining John Hancock, Watters was a managing director for financial risk management at the Chicago offices of KPMG, one of the largest professional services networks in the world and among the Big Four auditors.

From 2003-2007, she served as commissioner in the Office of Financial and Insurance Services for the State of Michigan. She was appointed to the position by Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm and unanimously confirmed by the Michigan state senate. During her tenure, the state fully implemented regulatory coordination of the insurance, banking and securities industries.

Watters was also the founder, president and chief executive officer of Detroit Commerce Bank from 1998 to 2003. She previously held positions with commercial banks in the Midwest and with General Motors Corporation.

Her volunteer efforts have included board membership and other involvement with the YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago, the School of Business Administration at the University of Dayton, the National Black MBA Foundation, the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, and the Detroit Downtown Development Authority.

In 2005 and 2007, Watters was named one of Crain’s Detroit Business 100 Most Influential Women in metropolitan Detroit, and she also received the 2005 Distinguished Service Award in civic affairs from the Michigan Business and Professional Association.

She was named BGSU’s Homecoming Queen in 1972 and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

Jack Williams, Jr. ’79
College of Business Administration

Jack Williams is a trial lawyer, litigator and partner at Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice located in Atlanta, Ga. He joined he firm in 2008 and has more than 20 years of experience practicing in both the civil and criminal arenas. In his work, he defends companies in product liability cases and also defends individuals responding to government investigations and prosecutions.

From 1995-2000, Williams was an assistant United States attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, primarily prosecuting business crime. He served as the government's lead trial counsel or co-counsel in a number of cases in which convictions were obtained on behalf of the United States, including a case in which a securities dealer defrauded investors out of $3.5 million in a four-year Ponzi scheme; a case in which a mortgage company owner defrauded a local bank out of over $1.2 million in an extensive check-kiting scheme; and a case in which, after a monthlong jury trial, a criminal defense lawyer was convicted on corruption charges.

Williams also successfully defended several convictions before the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. He has extensive experience in grand jury practice and was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation from the United States Secret Service for his successful investigation and prosecution of a large bank fraud and money laundering operation.

In 2003, Governor Sonny Perdue of Georgia appointed Williams to a seat on the five-member State Ethics Commission, which enforces Georgia's campaign finance disclosure and reporting requirements under the Ethics in Government Act.

Before practicing law, he had a seven-year professional football career with what was then the NFL's St. Louis Cardinals and the CFL's Ottawa RoughRiders and Edmonton Eskimos.

In addition to a bachelor’s degree from BGSU, Williams holds an MBA from Cleveland State University and Juris Doctorate from the University of Michigan.