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AASU Alumni Awards presented to
Otis Johnson and Cliff McCurry

Savannah, GA—April 27, 2005—The Armstrong Atlantic State University (AASU) Alumni Association presented its annual awards to two alumni, Mayor Otis S. Johnson, Ph.D. and J. Cliff McCurry, during the association’s annual meeting earlier this month.

President Thomas Z. Jones said, "Mayor Johnson and Mr. McCurry have long epitomized the finest traditions of leadership in this community. We are all very proud that they are respected members of the Armstrong Atlantic family."
Mayor Johnson received the Distinguished Alumnus Award that recognizes a graduate who has achieved distinction through community involvement and professional expertise. Johnson was the first African American to attend and then graduate from Armstrong State College in 1964. He went on to become the first African American Savannahian to earn an undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia.

After receiving a Master of Social Work from Atlanta University in 1969 and his Ph.D. in social welfare from Brandeis University in 1980, he embarked on a professional career focused on making conditions better for people in Savannah-Chatham County. He worked for the Economic Opportunity Authority and the Model Cities Program before he began teaching at Savannah State University. Johnson was elected to the Savannah City Council in 1982 and reelected in 1986. In 1988, he resigned from the city council and a tenured faculty position at Savannah State College to become executive director of the Youth Futures Authority. In 1998 he returned to Savannah State as dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and was elected to the Savannah-Chatham County Board of Education. He was elected Savannah’s mayor in November 2003.

J. Cliff McCurry was presented with the Outstanding Alumnus Service Award that recognizes a former student who has made significant contributions to the growth and development of the university through dedication and support of the institution and the alumni association.

He served on the AASU Foundation Board of Trustees from 1995 to 1998, serving as president during his last year. In 2004, the current board asked him to return to service. McCurry has consistently supported the university’s leadership initiative, most recently by expanding AASU’s Emerging Leader Program in honor of his life-long mentor Nick Mamalakis. The program now bears Mamalakis’ name.

McCurry, chairman of Hilb, Rogal & Hobbs of Savannah, began his career with the Mercer Insurance Agency in 1970 and has remained with the company, through numerous mergers, for 35 years.

He is a past chairman of the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce, the Savannah Economic Development Authority (SEDA), and the Candler Foundation. Additionally, he serves on the boards of SEDA, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, St. Joseph’s/Candler, and the Savannah Sports Council. He graduated from both Leadership Savannah and Leadership Georgia.