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Join us: April 12, 2023

Reception: 6 p.m. | Dinner: 6:45 p.m. | Program: 7:45 p.m.
Lenhart Grand Ballroom | Bowen-Thomspon Student Union
Bowling Green State University

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2023 Hall of Fame Honorees

Tony Drockton '88, '96

View Tony's induction video

Tony Drockton is the founder and chief cheerleader of Hammitt, America's fastest-growing handbag brand. After an upbringing rooted in Midwestern values and the power of connection, Drockton jump-started his career with an MBA from BGSU. 

His bold sense of vision and entrepreneurial spirit led him to Southern California, where he successfully manned multiple ventures in the worlds of finance, housing and construction. While his businesses boomed, he longed for a new challenge that celebrated expression and interpersonal relationships. It was then that Drockton took the reins at Hammitt, with a vision for building an American luxury brand inspired by European tenets of craftsmanship and lifelong quality.

In Drockton’s 15 years as Hammitt’s chairman and chief cheerleader, he’s become known for his signature balance of analytical decision-making, deeply personal relationships and showstopping joy. Drockton translates his own radiance into a supportive leadership style, as well as philanthropy and a career as a media personality. 

He has been featured by Women’s Wear Daily, Business of Fashion, MSNBC, the Wall Street Journal, and Entrepreneur.com. He has spoken alongside tech and fashion’s most influential leaders at National Retail Federation and sits on the board of New York’s famed Accessories Council, as well as the board of Buying Time.

Drockton passionately uplifts emerging leaders in his community, both through angel investments and mentorship programs for students. Above all, he prioritizes family time, both at home and at Hammitt headquarters.


Dr. Jennifer Higdon ’86, ’14 (Hon.)

View Jennifer's induction video

Jennifer Higdon is a Pulitzer Prize and three-time Grammy-winning composer and major figure in contemporary classical music.

Higdon's list of commissioners is extensive and includes The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Chicago Symphony and The Cleveland Orchestra, as well such groups as the Tokyo String Quartet and the President’s Own U.S. Marine Band. Her music has been recorded on over 90 CDs.  

Higdon is the first classical composer to successfully own and manage her own publishing company. For more than two centuries, composers had to sign over copyrights to an established publishing house in order to achieve any level of performance success. As a young professional, Higdon saw the pitfalls of relinquishing copyright ownership and began Lawdon Press. Now the most performed living composer in the world, the company manages all printing and distribution of her music on a global basis.

Higdon has received awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Koussevitzky Foundation, the Pew Fellowship in the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts, among many others. In 2022, Higdon was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and in 2018, she was elected to the American Philosophical Society (founded by Benjamin Franklin).

Higdon earned a bachelor’s in music performance from BGSU. She later studied at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, earning an Artist Diploma, followed by a master’s and Ph.D. in composition from the University of Pennsylvania. She was inducted into BGSU’s Academy of Distinguished Alumni in 2018 and received the Accomplished Graduate Award from College of Musical Arts in 2001.


Damon Ragusa ‘89

View Damon's induction video

Damon Ragusa, a data scientist, management consultant, corporate executive, startup investor and unintentional entrepreneur, has spent more than three decades developing technology-enabled companies, teams, products and services.

As founder or founding member of five businesses at the intersection of software and data science, Ragusa has served broad industries with an emphasis on health care, education and business strategy. For more than two decades, under Ragusa’s leadership, his businesses have developed technologies or capabilities for 30 of the current Fortune 50 companies.

With the goal to focus more intentionally on the healthcare industry, Ragusa now holds the chief data and technology officer role at PatientPoint. PatientPoint is a healthcare education, media and technology company with products in nearly 40,000 clinics and hospitals reaching 130,000+ healthcare providers and 750 million annual patient visits. He leads a team of more than 150 people working to prepare the company’s technology and data analytics infrastructure to drive the next five to 10 years of product innovation.

Ragusa’s natural state is in conceptualizing, innovating and leading. Having developed his first neural network in 1989, he subsequently spent decades researching methods to train computers to accomplish tasks that challenge humans. His current research interests are on using artificial neural networks to conduct early-stage drug discovery.

Ragusa earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from BGSU. He also served on the BGSU Foundation Board from May 2018-2021.


About the Paul J. Hooker Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership Hall of Fame

What do Golden Corral, Cheryl’s Cookies, Silk Soy Milk, and RainX windshield wiper blades have in common? BGSU alumni were the driving force in their founding.  

BGSU has been developing entrepreneurs for years and the Paul J. Hooker Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership is at the forefront of driving entrepreneurship.

The Paul J. Hooker Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership Hall of Fame recognizes BGSU graduates, honorary degree holders and members of the regional community who have achieved distinction for founding, leading or building a new business enterprise for five years or more. These individuals have demonstrated an entrepreneurial spirit that has helped to shape our economies and improved our quality of life. It is named in honor of Paul J. Hooker ’75 in recognition of his support of the center. So far, more than 50 world-class entrepreneurs have been inducted into this elite group of innovators.

2022 Hooker Hall of Fame

Watch the 2022 Paul J. Hooker Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on YouTube!

E-Week Events

The Paul J. Hooker Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership Hall of Fame is part of Entrepreneurship Week (E-Week) at BGSU.

Each April, the Allen W. and Carol M. Schmidthrost College of Business hosts entrepreneurial leaders from around the world to share their experience and expertise through presentations and other events including The Hatch and the Sebo Series in Entrepreneurship. There are many opportunities to engage through lunch and learns, presentations from world-renowned speakers and much more. Several E-Week events are open to the general public!

Updated: 04/17/2023 08:07AM