BGSU to induct 2023 class into Academy of Distinguished Alumni


As part of its 2023 Homecoming celebration, Bowling Green State University will recognize three accomplished alumni on Thursday who have inspired their country, state, community and alma mater with induction into the Academy of Distinguished Alumni, the university’s highest honor. The event is closed to the public and media.

Established in 2011, the BGSU Academy of Distinguished Alumni recognizes the extraordinary accomplishments of alumni who have made significant contributions to their chosen professional field and/or through their community involvement.

This year’s honorees include internationally acclaimed author Anthony Doerr ‘99, retired U.S. Coast Guard Rear Adm. June Ryan ‘84 and entrepreneur Allen Schmidthorst ‘17 (Hon.).

Doerr, an internationally acclaimed author, won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for fiction for his novel “All the Light We Cannot See.” The novel, about two teens in World War II, topped The New York Times bestseller list and remained on the list for more than 200 weeks. Netflix will release a four-part limited series based on the book in November 2023 starring Mark Ruffalo and Hugh Laurie.

A native of Cleveland, Doerr also has written the story collections “The Shell Collector” and “Memory Wall,” a memoir, “Four Seasons in Rome,” and the novel “About Grace.”

His latest novel, “Cloud Cuckoo Land,” was a finalist for the 2021 National Book Award, a finalist for Novel of the Year in the British Book Awards and winner of the 2022 Grand prix de littérature américaine in France.

He graduated from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, in 1995 with a degree in history and went on to earn a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing in 1999 from BGSU.

Doerr, of Boise, Idaho, was named among the 100 Most Prominent BGSU alumni in recognition of the university’s centennial celebration in May 2010. He was a visiting professor in the BGSU English Department from 1999-2002.

Ryan is the first enlisted woman in the Coast Guard to rise to the rank of Rear Admiral and is an in-demand motivational speaker, seminar leader and corporate trainer. Ryan draws on her 35 years of military service as she leads and develops workforces across the country and around the world.

During her career, Ryan blazed new trails for women. She was the first woman to serve as the Military Advisor to the Secretary of Homeland Security and the third woman in the nation’s history to serve as the Military Aide to the President of the United States.

She served in a wide variety of leadership roles in the military, including five command positions – two aboard Coast Guard cutters, three with regional units ashore. She served as the Chief of Staff of Coast Guard Pacific Area, an area that encompasses six continents, 71 countries and more than 74 million miles of ocean from U. S. western states to Asia and from the Arctic to Antarctica. She also served as the first woman to lead the 6,000 men and women of the Ninth Coast Guard District (Great Lakes Region), a position she held until her retirement in 2017.

While attending BGSU, Ryan enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve augmenting small boat crews on weekends at Coast Guard Stations Toledo and Marblehead. Ryan earned a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1984 from BGSU where she was a member of the National Honor Society of Pershing Rifles and active affiliate of the Army ROTC program. She received a master’s degree in adult education from the University of South Florida and is a graduate of the National Preparedness Initiative (NPLI) from the Harvard School of Public Health/Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

Her personal military awards include the Coast Guard Distinguished Service Award, two Defense Superior Service Medals, three Legion of Merits and six Coast Guard Meritorious Service Medals. She wears the Presidential Service Badge and the Secretary of Homeland Security Service Badge.

When not volunteering she enjoys spending time with her husband of 35+ years, Tim, their 21-year-old daughter, Aisling, and dog Lucy.

During her time on campus, Ryan will give a free, public talk titled “Successfully Navigating Challenges and Storms” at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union Theater.

With holdings in hotels, restaurants and real estate management, entrepreneur Schmidthorst is known for his hard work and determination, respected as a leader in the hotel and hospitality industry.

An Ohio native, Schmidthorst grew up working alongside his grandfather at his family’s farm in the Cincinnati area. He got his first taste of entrepreneurial success as a 10-year-old, selling watermelons and sweet corn in front of his childhood home. Schmidthorst applied the lessons he learned on the farm throughout his career.

He attended BGSU in 1957 for a year before needing to transition to the workforce. He rose through the ranks at McDonald’s and bought several franchises that he owned for 30 years before selling them and entering the hotel business.

Schmidthorst and his wife, Carol, also own AWS Properties, a business that provides comprehensive services for office, retail and leisure properties. The longtime residents of Lima anchored their businesses in the state and expanded throughout the Midwest.

The pair are longtime supporters of BGSU, making the single largest academic donation in the history of BGSU. The transformational gift established the university’s first named college, the Allen W. and Carol M. Schmidthorst College of Business.

Other gifts also led to the creation of the Schmidthorst Pavilion and Schmidthorst Heritage Hall, both located at the Stroh Center. They have also supported WBGU-TV, as well as many scholarship and athletic funds at the University.

Schmidthorst received an honorary doctorate of business administration from BGSU in 2017.

For more information about the BGSU Academy of Distinguished Alumni, visit

No posts to display