Auburn Alumni Association names lifetime achievers

Published: March 05, 2019
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The Auburn Alumni Association recognized four recipients with its highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award, on March 2, at The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center.  The recipients are:

  • Neil Owen Davis ’35, a newspaper publisher and editor who rose to prominence during the Civil Rights era for his stands on desegregation, public education and poverty relief.
  • Dick Ingwersen ’70, the founder of the Atlanta-based certified public accounting firm of Gifford, Hillegass and Ingwersen, or GH&I, and co-founder of Ingwersen & Taylor law firm.
  • Thom Gossom ’75, an actor, writer, speaker and communications consultant who helped desegregate Auburn football and later became the first African-American athlete to graduate from Auburn University.
  • Jeff Stone ’79, executive vice president of Brasfield & Gorrie and current chairman of the United Way of Central Alabama’s 2019 annual campaign.

Ashley Nunn Robinett ’01, vice president of Corporate Real Estate for Alabama Power and a board member of the American Cancer Society and the Kiwanis Club of Birmingham, received the Young Alumni Achievement Award, which recognizes extraordinary accomplishments by members of the Auburn Family age 40 and under.

Davis was a longtime newspaper editor in Auburn and Opelika, known for his editorials advocating desegregation, increased support for public education and policies that helped the poor.

After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in science and literature, Davis founded The Lee County Bulletin (later The Auburn Bulletin) in 1937 at the age of 22, where he remained editor and publisher until he sold the paper in 1975. He also owned The Tuskegee News in 1964-1975 and was its editor and publisher. His newspapers won numerous state and national awards, including three on the national level for best editorials. In the late 1970s, Davis was an adjunct professor of journalism at Auburn University.

Davis was a founding member of the local Presbyterian Community Ministry, which supports low-income housing, and a member of President Lyndon Johnson’s National Advisory Commission on Rural Poverty. He is a member of the Alabama Newspaper Hall of Honor and the University of Alabama Communication Hall of Fame. Davis remained an Auburn resident until his death in 2000.

Gossom played wide receiver for the Auburn Tigers and earned a bachelor’s degree in speech communication. Gossom began a lengthy acting career in film and television, appearing in movies such as “Fight Club” and “Jeepers Creepers 2,” as well as such television programs as “The Quad,” “Love Is…,” “C.S.I.,” “Boston Legal” and “In the Heat of the Night.”

In 2008, Gossom published a memoir, “Walk-On: My Reluctant Journey to Integration at Auburn University,” and a collection of shorts stories called “Slice of Life” in 2015. He also appeared in the HBO special, “Breaking the Huddle” about the integration of Southern College Football. 

Gossom and his wife, joyce, are owners of Best Gurl, Inc., a multi-platform company committed to all forms of effective communication. In the past, Gossom has served as the chair of the Auburn University Foundation Board and currently serves as a director on the Auburn Research and Technology Foundation.

Ingwersen graduated with a bachelor’s in business management and later earned his juris doctor degree from Emory Law School. Under Ingwersen’s leadership, GH&I became one of the top local certified public accounting firms in Atlanta. He was instrumental in completing a merger with Warren Averett, LLC, the fifth-largest accounting firm in the southeast.

Ingwersen was the recipient of the School of Accountancy’s 2008 Outstanding Alumnus award. He formerly served on the board of directors for the YMCA of Metropolitan Atlanta, where he was named Volunteer of the Year three times, and served on the advisory council for the Auburn School of Accountancy.

A former defensive end for the Auburn Tigers under Shug Jordan in the late 1960s, Ingwersen received the Walter Gilbert Award in 2016, an award recognizing former athletes who distinguished themselves after graduation.

Stone, who graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering, later served as chairman of the Auburn University Foundation, as well as the Auburn Alumni Engineering Council and as a member of the Engineering Keystone Society. Stone received the Outstanding Alumnus Award in Civil Engineering in 2005, the Distinguished Auburn Engineer Award in 2012 and was inducted into the State of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame in 2014.

Stone is a past chairman of Samford University’s Board of Overseers and is a member of the Birmingham Southern College Norton Board. He also currently sits on the boards of Children’s Harbor, Omicron Delta Kappa Foundation and serves as captain of the Monday Morning Quarterback Club of Birmingham. A former president of the Sunrise Rotary Club and a current board member of the Downtown Rotary Club of Birmingham, Stone is also a graduate of Leadership Birmingham and Leadership Alabama.

As the vice president of Corporate Real Estate for Alabama Power, Robinett is responsible for managing the company’s land holdings in support of business objectives through land management, acquisition and sales.

Most recently, she was the area manager for Alabama Power’s Birmingham Division, where she was responsible for business office operations, customer relations, community development and external affairs. Robinett joined Southern Company, the parent of Alabama Power, in 2001 as an engineer for the Southern Power wholesale subsidiary. She worked several years in Southern Company’s fuel services organization, managing emission allowance procurement and other strategic environmental issues for the generating fleet.

In 2008, she returned to Southern Power to manage its resource planning, risk analysis and business case development functions, including renewable energy. She has served as the assistant to the executive vice president and chief operating officer of Southern Company and to the president and chief executive officer of Alabama Power. She serves on the board for Children’s Harbor and the Kiwanis Club of Birmingham and is president of the board of directors for Preschool Partners.

Robinett earned her bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering with a minor in business and was the recipient of the 2018 Samuel Ginn College of Engineering Young Alumni Award. She remains involved with the university through the Auburn Engineering Alumni Council and 100 Women Strong, an initiative supporting female engineering students at Auburn.

She is a graduate of Leadership Birmingham and formerly served on the board of directors for the American Cancer Society.

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn's commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact. Auburn's mission to educate, discover and collaborate drives its expanding impact on the world.