The Ohio State University at Lima


Ohio State Lima presents Town and Gown Award to Martha MacDonell

May 11, 2018

Martha “Martie” MacDonell of Lima is the 2018 recipient of the Ohio State University at Lima’s Violet I. Meek Town and Gown Award. MacDonell has dedicated her life to the betterment of the community in a way that embodies the reciprocal relationship that is the essence of a strong town and gown dynamic. MacDonell received her award at a ceremony May 10, 2018, in the Farmer Family Gallery at Ohio State Lima.

The Violet I. Meek Town and Gown Award honorees personify the idea of Disciplina in civitatem, or education for citizenship, the motto of The Ohio State University. MacDonell is the fifteenth recipient. The award is named for Violet I. Meek, who retired as dean and director in 2003 after 12 years in the position at Ohio State Lima. During her tenure, she was an ardent supporter and promoter of community growth and increased interaction between the university and the people and communities in its service area. As such, the board created an award in her honor to recognize those working toward similar goals.

“We have honored those from both the campus and the communities we serve who have found ways to support education for citizenship – men and women of strength of character and spirit who honor us with their service,” Meek said of MacDonell. “And sometimes we see those working in the communities whose goals march with ours -- who show by example what an educated citizen looks like. As educators, it is our responsibility to call out their work and call them partners in our great task. It is our responsibility because we are the ones who can – and who must.”

Biography of Martha MacDonell

Martha S. "Martie" MacDonell
Martha S. “Martie” MacDonell has selflessly dedicated her entire life to the community. MacDonell, who by example time and again exemplifies her giving spirit for the betterment of our community, embodies the reciprocal relationship in the true essence of town and gown.

MacDonell’s vast-ranging volunteer career initially started with the YWCA and Mizpah Community Center. In the mid-1970s, she shifted to leading the Council for the Arts. Underlying her work was the soul of the community. All of her efforts drove to address emerging challenges in the community. She worked to expand Square Fair and also to open Kibby Corners Playhouse to aid in downtown development.

She is a powerful advocate for education and initiated the National Endowment for the Arts-sponsored Artist-in-Schools program in 1978 with Superintendent Earl McGovern. This project is directly responsible for the launch of the current Arts Magnet School within the Lima City School system.

MacDonell served for many years and chaired the Gala Opening celebration for the Civic Center in 1984 with 28 committees and 4,000 volunteers. Her efforts also include the Lima Locomotive Works and railroads, featuring oral history and cultural programs. American House hosted Pops at the Loco for 10 years, where 1,500 people gathered annually in the 1924 erecting shed to hear the Lima Symphony celebrate the craftsman of past and present.

Around the same time, the Allen County Commissioners proposed demolishing the 1890 Metropolitan Block on North Main Street — a major historic landmark. MacDonell and husband Sandy stepped in to save it for future generations — eventually becoming landlords.

Martie MacDonell moved to Lima after marrying Alexander S. (Sandy) MacDonell. They raised their two children, Parker and Amy, in the city of Lima. As strong proponents of public education, their children attended the Lima City Schools.

The MacDonell family has invested in students attending Ohio State Lima for more than 45 years through the City Loan and Savings Company – Metropolitan Bank Scholarship Endowment, which they established in 1970 to support students from Allen County who attend Ohio State Lima and demonstrate financial need.

Past winners of the Violet I. Meek Town and Gown Award

  • David S. Adams, associate professor emeritus of sociology
  • Tom Francis, a popular media personality in Lima whose activities centered around his commitment to the university and the community
  • Clyde Rauch, the president of Tuttle Services who has worked diligently with Ohio State Lima and its co-located institution
  • Bob Schulte, co-owner and Executive President of Spherion of Lima, Inc., and past campaign co-chair for Ohio State Lima’s comprehensive campaign
  • William V. Ackerman, associate professor emeritus of geography
  • Jaye E. McCain, a financial advisor for Edward Jones and Associates, past campaign co-chair for Ohio State Lima’s comprehensive campaign and past board chair
  • Dr. Jon E. Rockhold, a former special assistant to the dean and director with a strong record of outstanding professional leadership in the community
  • Ora “Bud” Winzenried, past president of Kenton Structural and Ornamental Iron Works and a former member of the Board of Directors of the Ohio State Alumni Association
  • Mayor David J. Berger, mayor of the City of Lima who helped form the Joint Higher Education Task Force, which aimed to retain an Ohio State presence in Lima in the form of a four-year university
  • William D. Angel, associate professor emeritus of political science
  • Joyce Tracy, adult educator at Apollo Career Center and workforce development and education advocate
  • William J. Sullivan, associate professor emeritus of English at Ohio State and longtime supporter of the arts in Lima and Allen County
  • George Brooks, the Market President of Northern Ohio at First Financial Bank, Van Wert, and a longtime supporter of the Ohio State Lima campus
  • Roger Nimps, former assistant dean and lecturer in history