Dr. and Mrs. Fred Obear have been honored with the Distinguished Service Award 2014 by the Kiwanis Club of Chattanooga, in honor of outstanding leadership and service in the community. The award was presented to them in the Silver Ball Room of the Radisson Read House.
In the 92-year history of the award, this marks the ninth time it has been awarded jointly.
Dr. Obear served as Chancellor of UTC from 1981 through 1997 and returned as interim chancellor in 2004. Ruth Obear joined him as the University’s first lady in 2004.
Mrs. Obear graduated from Bay State Academy in Boston and then studied art and design at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. After living and working as a professional designer in several countries and American cities, she married her childhood friend and moved to Chattanooga in 1998. During her time in Chattanooga, Mrs. Obear has become involved in numerous organizations, especially those that fulfill her passion for aiding women and children. She has volunteered at Erlanger Medical Center’s neo-natal center and worked as a volunteer victim advocate at the Rape Crisis Center. In 2007 she was named one of seven new board members of the T.C. Thompson Children’s Hospital Foundation. She has served on the board of the Chambliss Children’s Home and Shelter. In a reflection of her attitude of service and passion for the arts, Mrs. Obear has coordinated the Painted Violin fundraiser as a volunteer supporter of the Chattanooga Symphony. She has also served with the Opera Tells Stories project in local elementary schools. She was named a Chattanooga Woman of Distinction in 2005.
Dr. Obear graduated with high honors from the University of Massachusetts and was awarded a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of New Hampshire. He began an academic career in 1960 at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, as an assistant professor of chemistry and then became provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at that institution. He also received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Massachusetts and has chaired the ASSCU (American Association of State Colleges and Universities) board of directors. He has since continued to coordinate and teach in that organization’s New Presidents’ Academy. He has been an American Council on Education fellow, president of the Council of Fellows, and a member of numerous commissions, including the Commission on Minorities in Higher Education. He has published many articles on educational principles and practices for professional journals and he has been a keynote speaker for many conferences. He has served on many civic organization boards and is a past president of the Chattanooga Rotary Club.
Today the couple remains avid supporters of UTC athletics. Together they have assisted in many fundraising events for organizations outside UTC, such as co-chairing the Siskin Star Night and the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera Gala.
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