Distinguished Alumni Honored for Giving Back to Georgia State – and the Community

In a year full of major milestones for Georgia State University, the Distinguished Alumni Award is celebrating a milestone of its own.

“The Distinguished Alumni Awards is celebrating its 50th year along with the university’s Centennial celebration, so this year has special significance,” says Christina Million, associate vice president for alumni affairs. “The four honorees are absolutely incredible, and they all truly exemplify Georgia State through their professional accomplishments, community involvement and love for their alma mater.”

The Distinguished Alumni Award recipients for 2013 are:


    • Ahmet Bozer (M.S., ’83), executive vice president and president of Coca-Cola International, which manages the company’s operations in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Pacific islands. He is a founding member of the Coca-Cola Turkey Life Plus Foundation, a member of Coca-Cola’s Public Policy and Corporate Reputation Council and a former board member of the Coca-Cola Foundation.


    • Ronald Freeman Sr. (J.D., ’85), founding partner of Union City, Ga., law firm Johnson & Freeman LLC. As an attorney, he has developed a lengthy track record in the field of business and construction litigation and dispute resolution in both the public and private sectors. He has also served as a judge in the Magistrate Court of Fulton County and the City of Riverdale Municipal Court.


    • Lee Armstrong Lumpkin (B.A., ’68), former vice president and general manager of Charlotte, N.C.-area ABC affiliates WSOC and WAXN. Lumpkin established the John William Armstrong Jr. Endowment for the Communications Department in honor of her father.


    • Alicia Philipp (M.B.A., ’82), president of the Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta, a non-profit organization managing more than $740 million in assets. Alicia has served on numerous boards and committees, including the advisory committee of the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, and received the 2010 John H. Allen Humanitarian Award from Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasters.


The four alumni were honored at the annual awards dinner Friday, Oct. 11 in the GSU Student Center Ballroom.

Lee Lumpkin remembers Georgia State as a place that was critical in setting her up for her successful career in journalism. “They gave us real-world skills so that when we walked out the door we knew what would be expected of us in newsrooms,” she says of professors Dozier Cade and George Grice. “They were very encouraging; very challenging, in a good way; and it was just a great learning environment that they created. They had me writing articles for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, so there was this sense that this is the real thing.”

More than just journalism skills, Lumpkin says she gained a great deal of confidence from her time at Georgia State. “It was just a great incubator,” she says. “After I was down there, I went straight to a job where I plied my trade and made all the rookie mistakes that anybody does make. But they had given me the confidence that I did know what I was doing, and though I might make mistakes, I would recover from them.”

The education Alicia Philipp got at Georgia State’s business school — and the connections she made — continue to benefit her years down the road. “I had a marketing class with Dr. Ken Bernhardt — what an amazing experience,” she says. “I was fairly new at the Community Foundation at that time and getting my M.B.A. at night. I was able to use the Community Foundation as my case study in the marketing class and did the first marketing audit and marketing plan for the Community Foundation then. Fast-forward many years later: Ken comes on the board of the foundation, most recently as chair, and he helped us do our new strategic marketing plan. It’s really come full circle.”

Philipp says she’ll never forget how Bernhardt and other professors gave their lessons “real-world” applications and meaning. “And that’s the thing about a Georgia State education — it’s relevant,” she says. “Because many, many of the professors are actually applying their knowledge out in the real world while they’re teaching. That’s such a big difference.”

Ronald Freeman, too, says his education at the College of Law – at a time when the college was still in its infancy – was just the start of long and meaningful relationships with his professors. “I’ve been away from Georgia State now for 26 years, and they have mentored me the full 26 years – they have made it a point to stay in contact with me,” he says. “In fact, before E.R. Lanier retired, I would always come up there once or twice a year and speak to his class, which I thought was kind of neat.

“Georgia State, the law school and the university as a whole, is making a significant impact on the city of Atlanta,” Freeman says. “I think the citizens of Atlanta and the students that attend Georgia State are enormously benefited by Georgia State’s presence.”