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Ithaca College Honors Five with Alumni Association Awards

ITHACA, NY  — The Ithaca College Alumni Association recognized the outstanding contributions to the college and community of four alumni and a former administrator at the Blue and Gold Appreciation Gala, held on Oct. 12, as part of Alumni Weekend.

Video profiles on each of the award winners can be found here.

Pictured in photo, left to right:
STANDING: Carrie Brown, executive director of alumni relations; Tom Rochon, president; Marc Hudak, president of the alumni association board of directors; Ed and Frances Weissman; Gabriel Weissman
SITTING: Brian McAree; Elise Ruckert; Tom Grape; Dave Wohlhueter; Rebecca Weissman

Edgar “Dusty” Bredbenner Jr. ’50 Distinguished Alumni Award
Dave Wohlhueter ’60
After earning his degree in television-radio, Dave Wohlhueter joined the staff of radio station WDOS in Oneonta, N.Y., as sports director and in advertising sales. He returned to Ithaca College in 1965 as the first full-time sports information director and subsequently served in that capacity at Bucknell University (1967–77) and Cornell University (1977–98).

While at Cornell, Wohlhueter also began a decades-long relationship with the U.S. Olympic Committee, working as a press liaison officer at events ranging from the Pan American Games and World University Games to the 1996 Summer Olympics and 2002 Winter Olympics. His other professional activities included serving as treasurer of the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) for 35 years, president of the Eastern College Athletic Conference Sports Information Directors Association and president of the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association.

In 2012, Wohlhueter became just the second person to be honored with the Distinguished Service Award from CoSIDA. Other honors include the Wilbur Snypp Award from the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and induction into the Ithaca College Athletic, Cornell University Athletic and CoSIDA Halls of Fame.

Locally, Wohlhueter serves as president of the Ithaca Concert Band and chairman of the Cornell Hockey Association’s Coach’s Club, as a member of the athletic hall of fame selection committees for Ithaca College and Cornell University, and as treasurer of the Cornell Faculty Tennis Club. He is also a member of the Ithaca College Alumni Association Board of Directors and serves as secretary of the board.

Professional Achievement Award
Tom Grape ’80
Tom Grape was named chair of the Ithaca College Board of Trustees in June of 2012, after serving for three years on the board and chairing the Institutional Advancement Committee.

He is the founder, chairman and CEO of Benchmark Senior Living, the largest provider of senior housing in the Northeast. Benchmark’s 50 communities total $1.7 billion in value and $400 million in annual revenue, and they employ 5,000 associates. For the last five years, Benchmark has been named one of the Boston Globe’s “Top Places to Work.”

While a student in the School of Business, Grape was president of the Student Government Association, founded the still-active IC Marketing Club and served on the Dean’s Student Advisory Council.

Grape was recognized as an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2003 for real estate/hospitality in New England and was honored with the inaugural International Corporate Social Responsibility Award by the Young Presidents’ Organization. He is a founder and past chairman of the Assisted Living Federation of America and serves as president of the board of the Meadowbrook School of Weston and vice chair of the board of Newton-Wellesley Hospital.

Humanitarian Alumni Award
Josh Weissman ’00 (posthumously)

At the age of 16, Josh Weissman began his career of service to others by volunteering with the Cayuga Heights Fire Department in his hometown of Ithaca. While attending Ithaca College, where he earned a B.A. in history in 2000, he lived at the fire station.

During his nine years in the department, Weissman served as a lieutenant, rescue director and company president. He also realized his true passion was emergency medical services. And he met another volunteer, Rebecca Updike, whom he married in 2005.

After graduation, Weissman worked for Bangs Ambulance in Ithaca, TLC Emergency Medical Services in Cortland and Rural/Metro Medical Services of Central New York in Syracuse. He and Rebecca then moved to Virginia, and he joined the District of Columbia Fire Department as a paramedic.

In 2006, Weissman became a paramedic with the Alexandria Fire Department. He received outstanding performance ratings and worked on numerous committees for the department, focusing on improving EMS quality, management and training. He was recognized with the Alexandria Jaycees Outstanding Public Service Award, Alexandria Chamber of Commerce Public Safety Valor Award and 2011 Northern Virginia Regional Award for Outstanding Pre-Hospital Provider.

Weissman died in the line of duty in February of 2012 as a result of injuries sustained while responding to an emergency.

Outstanding Young Alumni Award
Elizabeth “Elise” A. Ruckert ’05, M.S. ’06, D.P.T. ’07

After receiving her doctorate in physical therapy in 2007, Elise Ruckert pursued a clinical specialization in neurology through a yearlong residency program at the University of Southern California/Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Los Angeles. She continued her clinical practice on the center’s spinal cord injury unit, where she founded a community support group for individuals living with such injuries.

Ruckert joined the USC faculty, first as an adjunct and coordinator of the neurologic management course for the doctoral program in physical therapy, then as a full-time clinical faculty member, which included practicing critical care physical therapy at the Keck Medical Center.

In 2012, Ruckert moved to Washington, D.C., to join the faculty of George Washington University as assistant professor in the Department of Physical Therapy and Health Care Sciences. This year, she received the Outstanding Faculty Award from the GW physical therapy class of 2013 for her contributions to teaching.

Ruckert developed the MedStar National Rehabilitation Network/George Washington University Neurologic Residency Program, for which she currently serves as academic director. She is a member of the American Physical Therapy Association and has served on the Neurology Section’s Member and Public Relations Committee.

James J. Whalen Meritorious Service Award
Brian McAree
Brian McAree served as vice president for student affairs and campus life at Ithaca College from 2001 until retiring in 2012. In this role, he was responsible for the leadership of a comprehensive student services division that included nearly 200 employees in 14 departments, ranging from career services and athletics to public safety and the health center.

McAree joined the college in 1983 as director of residential life, was named assistant vice president for student affairs and campus life in 1989, and promoted to associate vice president in 1997. Prior to his tenure at IC, he held student affairs positions at Rider University, the University of Delaware and West Liberty State College.

Currently, McAree serves as president of the Cayuga Medical Center Foundation and vice chair of the Cayuga Medical Center Board of Directors. He is a past member of the board of directors of Franziska Racker Centers and the United Way of Tompkins County Community Campaign Committee.

He and his wife, Kris Corda, have three children, all of whom graduated from Ithaca College: Kelly ’06, Katelyn ’08 and Tommy ’13.