The Alumni Medal recognizes outstanding and sustained service to Oberlin College. The Office of Alumni Relations will present the medal to William F.B. Vodrey. This award is presented during Commencement.

Headshot photograph of William Vodrey
Photo courtesy of William Vodrey

William F.B. Vodrey was born and raised in East Liverpool, Ohio. He graduated from Shady Side Academy in Pittsburgh, PA., in 1983, and began his studies at Oberlin that fall.

At Oberlin, he worked on the Oberlin Review staff, eventually becoming a news editor. He served on the Judicial Board and was active in the Moderate Caucus and Annual Fund phone bank. He appeared in productions of The Seagull and 1776.  He graduated with honors in government and a history minor in 1987. Since 2007, he has been a visiting professor of legal advocacy as part of the Oberlin Law Scholars program, teaching a course every fall.

Vodrey graduated from Case Western Reserve University School of Law in 1992, having served as vice president of the Student Bar Association. After a brief stint in private practice, he became a staff lawyer with Southeastern Ohio Legal Services in New Philadelphia, Ohio, providing civil legal representation to the poor. Much of his work was with victims of domestic violence and those whose utilities had been illegally shut off. In 1995, he was appointed an assistant Cuyahoga County prosecuting attorney, and served primarily in the felony trial unit, including work on capital cases.

Vodrey was appointed a magistrate of Cleveland Municipal Court in 2001. He presided over a wide range of criminal, civil, and traffic cases. He also handled arraignments, post-judgment motions, traffic court, license suspensions, civil defaults, city income tax, garnishment, and bank attachment cases.

Magistrate Vodrey also advises the judges of the court on issues such as the constitutionality of statutes and ordinances, equal protection, the Brady Act, selective prosecution, the First Amendment and the Violence Against Women Act. In 2002, he was named Distinguished Recent Graduate of his law school alma mater.

Many judges go their entire careers without ever having a decision officially reported as Ohio precedent; Vodrey has had 21. He mentors young lawyers through the Supreme Court of Ohio’s Lawyer to Lawyer program and serves on the Character and Fitness Committee of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association, interviewing applicants for the Ohio bar exam.

Vodrey met Susan Carnahan, Class of 1987, while on the Danenberg Oberlin-in-London semester in fall 1985. They married in 1990 and live in Cleveland. They have three sons: John, a junior at American University in Washington, D.C.; Ethan, a senior at Shaker Heights High School who will begin his studies at the Cleveland Institute of Art this fall; and Thomas, a rising sophomore at the high school.

He and his family are longtime parishioners of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, where he has served on the Vestry and as a lector, usher and architectural tour guide.

Much to his surprise, he was an extra in the 2012 superhero movie The Avengers, filmed in Cleveland, and can be seen for about eight seconds in the Stuttgart art museum scene (blink and you might miss him!).

Speakers and Award Recipients