John R. Lawson II of Newport News and Jean Arnold Dodge of Mobile, Ala., are the 2012 recipients of Virginia Tech's Alumni Distinguished Service Award, which is presented each year at commencement to recognize individuals for their contributions to the university.
Lawson, who earned his bachelor's of geophysics in 1975, is president and CEO of W.M. Jordan Company. He was a co-chair of The Campaign for Virginia Tech: Invent the Future, which generated 139899.11 billion in gifts or commitments to the university between July 2003 and June 2011.
Dodge earned bachelor’s degrees in sociology and political science in 1974 and was the university’s first female class president. She is land commissioner for Mobile County Probate Court, a past president of Virginia Tech's Houston Alumni Chapter, and formerly served on the boards of directors for the university's Alumni Association and Athletic Fund.
Lawson belonged to the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity while at Virginia Tech and, after graduating, began his career with W.M. Jordan Company as a field engineer. Under his leadership, the company has become one of the largest general contractors in Virginia, with annual revenues of $500 million. The company has been ranked in Engineering News Record’s top 400 contractors in the United States for the past 28 years.
Lawson has stayed connected to his alma mater by serving in various roles across the university. Along with leading the fundraising campaign, he is past rector of the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors, a member of the Virginia Tech Foundation Board, and a board member of the Myers-Lawson School of Construction at Virginia Tech, which bears his name in recognition of his foundational support for the school.
Along with his service to Virginia Tech, Lawson serves on numerous boards in his community, including those for TowneBank; the Fort Monroe Authority, for which he is vice chairman; Children's Health System, for which he is chairman; and the Mariners' Museum, for which he is chairman. He has received many awards throughout his career, including the Peninsula Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Citizen Award, the Ernst & Young Virginia Entrepreneur of the Year, and United Way's Volunteer of the Year.
In addition to serving as class president, Dodge was selected as Virginia Tech's Undergraduate Woman of the Year in 1974, served as Student Government Association president pro tempore, and was a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, Alpha Kappa Delta, and the American Association of University Women. She was recognized by Outstanding Young Women of America and Who's Who in American Universities.
While earning her Virginia Tech bachelor's degrees, Dodge also completed a minor in education. She went on to earn a law degree from the University of Virginia in 1977. Before joining the Mobile County Probate Court, she was a consultant on special education and general school law.
Dodge is appointed by the Mobile County Probate Court as a Land Commissioner. Prior to that, she was a consultant on special education and general school law. Her legal career -- serving of Counsel with McGuire, Woods, Battle & Boothe -- was primarily focused on representation of school boards in all aspects of school law, with an emphasis on special-education matters. Dodge is a past chair of the National Council of School Attorneys Advisory Board, and has served on the Board of Directors for the National School Boards Association. She is a member of the Virginia State Bar and the State Bar of Texas.
Dodge is also a member of Virginia Tech’s Gateway Society, the Alumni Association’s recognition society for former board members. As a former class president, she helped organize and plan Class of 1974 reunions. Along with serving her alma mater, Dodge serves her home community as a member of the YMCA Board of Directors and the Mobile Historic Development Commission Board of Commissioners.
Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.