CORVALLIS - Ken Austin, owner of Austin Dental Equipment Company (A-dec), has been named the 2000 recipient of the E.B. Lemon Distinguished Alumni Award at Oregon State University.
Sponsored annually by the OSU Alumni Association, the award is the highest honor given by the association to OSU graduates who have significantly contributed to society and whose accomplishments have brought credit to the university.
He will be honored in special ceremonies on May 19 at the CH2M HILL Alumni Center.
Austin, who earned a bachelor's degree in industrial administration from OSU in 1954, started A-dec in 1964 in a small Quonset hut in downtown Newberg. Today, with more than 900 employees and markets in more than 100 countries, A-dec is one of the world's largest dental equipment manufacturers.
A-dec also has become known for management techniques that put employees first. This March A-dec was rated as one of Oregon's 12 best places to work. Over the years the company has been recognized numerous awards, including the Oregon Governor's Award for International Marketing Firm of the Year, Governor's Handicapped Employer of the Year, the U.S. Senate Award for Productivity Improvement and National Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
As A-dec prospered, Austin and his wife, Joan, made contributions to local and national causes. The Austins have worked with Rotary International to provide portable dental units for missionary projects, sponsored an annual Oregon Symphony in Newberg, funded a staff member to work with youth at risk, preserved Newberg's Carnegie Library and sponsored school tours. They have contributed to Boy Scout camps, the High Desert Museum, and Providence Newberg Hospital and founded the Springbrook Northwest drug and alcohol treatment center.
Austin has served as trustee of George Fox College since 1986 and has been a trustee of the Oregon Independent College Foundation. He is trustee emeritus and former president of the Oregon 4-H Club Foundation and past chair of the American Dental Trade Association. In addition, he is on the board of the High Desert Museum and has served on the Newberg City Council and the OSU Beaver Club Board of Directors. He is a member of the American Dental Trade Association and an honorary member of the American Dental Association.
Among his honors: Rotary's Service Above Self Award in 1997, a distinguished service award from the American Dental Association, an honorary doctorate from George Fox, the National 4-H Distinguished Alumni Award, and the Associated Oregon Industries' Business Leader of the Year Award.
Austin has been inducted into the OSU Engineering Hall of Fame and the National Academy of Engineering. He and Joan received Newberg's First Citizen Award and OSU's Distinguished Service Award.
Joan Austin has worked closely with her husband in supporting OSU. The Austins provided seed money to begin the Austin Family Business Program and have sustained it with contributions, advice and advocacy. The Austins also have funded the Austin Auditorium in the LaSells Stewart Convention Center and made significant contributions to the Beaver Athletic Scholarship Fund, the construction the CH2M HILL Alumni Center, the library renovation, 4-H and other OSU programs.