CSU to Present Top Annual Awards at 2013 President's Recognition Dinner

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Two respected military leaders — a decorated active-duty officer and a former general who's also enjoyed success in retirement —  will be honored April 18 by Columbus State University at its 41st annual President's Recognition Dinner.

Retired  Lt. Gen. Carmen Cavezza, the former Fort Benning commander known just as well for his later success in city government and at CSU, will be presented the Frank D. Brown Achievement and Leadership Excellence Award, which recognizes an individual or organization that exemplifies the leadership skills and ideals of its namesake, CSU's retired third president.

Col. Thomas D. Macdonald, BBA '86, now serving as chief of staff for the Army's renowned 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum (N.Y.), will be presented the Thomas Y. Whitley Distinguished Alumnus Award, named for CSU's founding president.

Tickets are still available for the 2013 President's Recognition Dinner, sponsored by Columbus State's Alumni Association and the CSU Foundation. A 6:30 p.m. reception precedes the 7 p.m. dinner. Seats are $60 per person. Register online or get more information by calling Alumni Relations Director Jennifer Joyner at 706-507-8956.

Also at the Cunningham Center dinner, three friends of Columbus State will be named honorary alumni:

  • Pete Robinson, managing partner of the Atlanta-based international law firm of Troutman Sanders LLP. (The former  Georgia legislator is also chairman of Troutman Sanders Strategies, a full-service lobbying and issue management firm.)
  • Mathews D. Swift, president and chief operating officer of W.C. Bradley Co. Real Estate Division.
  • Philip W. Tomlinson, chairman and CEO of TSYS, as well as the immediate past chair of the CSU Foundation.

Cavezza, who retired in December as the inaugural executive director of CSU's Cunningham Center, has also enjoyed success as Columbus' city manager for eight years before that, moving into that position after leading the effort to  make Columbus part of the 1996 Summer Olympics as host of the softball competition. Before that, he spent 33 years in the Army, retiring as Fort Benning's commanding officer after extensive assignments in Asia and elsewhere.

At Columbus State, Cavezza was instrumental in developing the Cunningham Center, largely influencing its subsequent success as a conference center, as a regional technology incubator and its creation of the Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum, which annually attracts top speakers to Columbus. Cavezza also held the title of assistant to the president for external affairs at Columbus State.

Cavezza has also served in leadership positions with the Rotary Club, the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce Board, the National Infantry Foundation Board, Valley Partnership, Columbus Regional Healthcare and other Columbus entities. 

Macdonald has served in several crucial military roles since he was the distinguished military graduate of Columbus College's ROTC unit in the mid-1980s. During a critical point in the war in Iraq, Macdonald led a battalion of more than 700 soldiers in combat. After his promotion to lieutenant colonel, he later was assigned to the U.S. Military Academy in West Point to lead, mentor and serve as a role model for 1,000 cadets.

Macdonald later was named garrison commander at Fort Benning, essentially serving as the post's "city manager" from 2008-2011. In addition to the challenges that come along with that position, Macdonald oversaw the post's most significant transformation since the 1960s in its move to become the Maneuver Center of Excellence.

Macdonald and his wife, Amy, have two children who are both now students at Columbus State. Ian is currently a senior in the ROTC program, and Devin is a sophomore.

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Editors -- Access full-resolution photos of honorees at: Cavezza | Macdonald | Robinson | Swift | Tomlinson