LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Louisvillians Samuel D. and Lolita S. “Lita” Weakley have been honored by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education for their volunteer work with the University of Louisville.

    The Weakleys have won CASE District III’s 2001 Bill Franklin Volunteer of the Year Award, its highest honor for volunteers. CASE District III includes universities in nine states.

    U of L nominated the Weakleys in appreciation for their long history of fund-raising and leadership efforts on its behalf. In making the nomination, U of L President John Shumaker called the Weakleys “tireless advocates for educational excellence.”

    The Weakleys served on the university’s Bicentennial Capital Campaign committee, which exceeded the initial $120 million goal by $232 million. The Weakleys helped obtain million-dollar gifts for endowed chairs, with many of the contributions matched by the state. During the campaign the university’s number of endowed chairs of $1 million or more rose from 25 to 59.

    Lita Weakley also led the Annual Fund from 1995 to 2000, during which time giving increased at an average rate of 10 percent each year. The number of $1,000 donors also rose, from 528 to 1,400.

    Sam Weakley is an active member of the U of L Foundation Inc., which oversees all endowed funds of the university. He also serves on the James Graham Brown Cancer Center’s development committee to raise $50 million for cancer research. As national chair for the Class of 1950’s golden reunion, he rallied his classmates to raise more than $3 million for the university.

    The Weakleys have supported U of L’s Challenge for Excellence by committing $2 million toward endowed chairs in surgical oncology and anesthesiology at the medical school.

    “Sam and Lita Weakley are truly outstanding alumni who have distinguished themselves and the medical profession with their high standards of excellence,” says Joel Kaplan, dean of the School of Medicine and vice president for health affairs. “They recognize the value of their medical education and have returned their appreciation to our school seven-fold.”

    The Weakleys are staunch supporters of the university’s Honors Program and have taken on the responsibility of assigning and building strong mentor relationships between students and members of the professional community.

    John Drees is a 35-year veteran in the Office of Communications and Marketing. As vice president, communications and marketing, he works closely with the president, provost and other senior administrators, oversees the Office of Communications and Marketing, including media relations, marketing and brand, broadcast, social media, internal communication, crisis communication, visitor services and special events and activities. A former sports editor for the Voice Newspapers, he was a regular contributor to a variety of publications, including the Kentucky Sports Report and the Courier-Journal. A poor but enthusiastic golfer, he is an avid Cardinal sports fan. He also loves the Detroit Lions, so pity him.