The event was the 12th annual YSU Scholarship/Ring Dinner.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
BOARDMAN -- Clarence R. Smith Jr., an active member of the Penguin Club and a man who has played a key role in Youngstown State athletics and the Mahoning Valley community, was honored as the "2002 Penguin of the Year" Tuesday night at Mr. Anthony's Banquet Center.
The event was the 12th annual YSU Scholarship/Ring Dinner sponsored by the Penguin Club and Travaglini Enterprises.
A gathering of 1,000 people was on hand to honor Smith, along with former YSU associate executive director of athletics, Pauline Saternow.
Saternow, who has served in the YSU athletics department for the past 26 years, has moved up to the school's admissions office. Her honor came as a surprise.
Stadium force: Smith has been a long-time supporter of YSU and a major contributor in helping build Stambaugh Stadium in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Smith and his companies -- Diamond Steel Construction Company, Compco Industries and Adamas Gems and Jewelry -- contributed greatly to the stadium renovations that were concluded prior to the 1997 season, which included the DeBartolo Stadium Club and the east stands.
"I'm just proud to be a part of the success of this university," Smith said.
The evening began with a special video tape from former YSU football coach and athletic director Jim Tressel, who praised both Smith and Saternow for their efforts with the university.
"He has always been there for us," said Tressel.
YSU President Dr. David Sweet addressed the many reasons that the university was honoring Smith. He also lauded the accomplishments of the YSU student-athletes, who benefit from this affair.
Graduation talk: "Our student-athletes have an 88 percent graduation rate, which is the highest in northeastern Ohio," Sweet said. "We also have 51 percent of our student-athletes with a grade-point average of 3.0 or better."
Smith and Saternow received plaques presented by Sweet and YSU director of athletics Ron Strollo.
Saternow said that she was completely surprised by the honor.
"It's been a tremendous experience," she added. "No matter where I'm at or what I'm doing, I'll always be a Penguin."
Student-athletes who were called on to speak included Melissa Lyczkowski, senior member of the YSU volleyball team, and Jeff Ryan, senior member of the football team.