Sunday, April 28, 2019

Midway University Spotlight Awards May 30 will raise money, honor chef Ouita Michel and engineer Lyle Wolf

By Akhira Umar
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Media

Midway University’s annual Spotlight Awards is “under construction” and will be unveiled May 30. This year will mark the school’s sixth time hosting its largest annual fundraiser.

The theme for this year is “under construction” because arriving guests will be led through a “living construction gallery” showing short videos of the various projects the university is undertaking. It is hoping to get visitors to embrace the renovations underway around campus, said Ellen Gregory, the university’s vice president of marketing and communications.

Ouita Michel
As its name implies, the Spotlight Awards is an award ceremony as much as it is a fundraiser. Two active community members will be honored at the event. This year the honorees are Midway chef and restaurateur Ouita Michel and civil engineer Lyle Wolf.

Michel will receive the Pinkerton Vision Award, given to someone who has had a positive impact on improving women’s lives either directly or as a role model who displays great leadership, innovation and influence.

As the owner of multiple Kentucky restaurants, including Holly Hill Inn in Midway, recipient of local and national accolades, and an active member in several organizations, Michel is an easy fit for the Pinkerton Vision Award. Gregory said the school is honoring Michel for “all that she’s done in her career, as a mentor to others, and as a strong female leader in our community.”

Lyle Wolf
Wolf, co-founder and former president of Lexington-based GRW Engineers and 35-year trustee of the university, will receive the Midway University Legacy Award. This is an honor given to someone who has “given of time, money, service to the university over the years,” Gregory said.

As president of his company from 1967 to 1991, Wolf grew the firm to a multi-million-dollar business regularly listed in the Engineering News Record’s Top 500 Design Firms. He has served on the board of numerous organizations such as the Boy Scouts of America and the Rotary Club. He joined the university’s Board of Trustees in 1983 and is one of the longest-serving current trustees. Five other Midway University committees have had Wolf as a member, and he also served as vice chair of the campaign that helped raise funds for the construction of the Anne Hart Raymond Mathematics and Science Building.

The Spotlight Awards invitation calls for all the university’s supporters to come enjoy a night of food and socializing while also encouraging them to continue contributing to the community.

“It’s to raise funds for the university, for student support, student scholarship,” Gregory said. “You know, Midway, we rely on our donors and our partners to fund our scholarships and help us.”

The evening will begin with a cocktail reception at 5:30 p.m. in the Piper Dining Hall, located in the McManis Student Center. A buffet-style, sit-down dinner will follow with the award ceremony starting at 7 p.m. A live auction will accompany the event, offering “experiential” items like a two night stay in Boca Grande, Florida, and a dinner for eight made by Spotlight Award honoree Michel and her chef friends.

Tickets are on sale for $150 each and $1,200 for a table of eight, payable through online registration, which ends May 15. More information about the event is on its website and its Facebook page.

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