Ann W. Weisgarber, ’76 & James W. Gross, ’77, '05

Ann W. Weisgarber, ’76 B.A.
College of Liberal Arts

Ann Wall Weisgarber graduated in 1976 with a Bachelor of Science degree in social work. Born in Dayton, Weisgarber grew up in Kettering and graduated from Fairmont West High School. Although all of her friends went to college, Weisgarber wanted to work. She found a clerical job, but within a week she knew she’d made a mistake. Six months later she quit the job and enrolled at Wright State University.

Wright State had only six buildings at the time, but the opportunities were boundless. Weisgarber discovered liberal arts and majored in social work. She met Rob Weisgarber, an accounting major. After graduation, Weisgarber found a social work position in a psychiatric hospital, and she and Rob got married. Three quarters later, Rob graduated from Wright State University and they moved to Houston. There, Weisgarber worked in an extended care facility for amputees and earned her master’s degree in sociology from the University of Houston. Leaving social work, she taught sociology at a junior college where rodeo scholarships were highly prized.

Vacations were spent hiking in national parks. Inspired by a visit to Badlands National Park, and remembering that a Wright State English Composition instructor told her that she was a good writer, Weisgarber decided to put pen to paper. She broke the “write-what-you-know” rule and wrote The Personal History of Rachel DuPree, a novel about an African American ranch family in the Badlands. It was published in England, France, and the United States. It won a literary award and was shortlisted for other awards.

She and Rob live in Sugar Land, Texas, where she is writing her second novel.

James W. Gross (Jim), ’77 B.S.ED., '05 M.P.H.
School of Graduate Studies

A native Daytonian, Jim Gross received his B.S. in education from Wright State in 1977 and was one of two initial graduates in the Boonshoft School of Medicine’s Master of Public Health program in 2005. With more than three decades of public health experience in Montgomery County, he is currently the health commissioner with Public Health–Dayton & Montgomery County. As chief executive officer of one of Ohio’s largest health departments, Gross oversees approximately 400 employees, 70 programs, and a budget of $38 million.

During his tenure as health commissioner, Public Health–Dayton & Montgomery County has been recognized for its innovation, community collaboration, and operational efficiency through efforts such as GetUp Montgomery County, a community-wide healthy lifestyle initiative. During the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, Public Health was recognized as Ohio’s leader by working with community partners to immunize over 112,000 citizens, including 66,000 students in 200 local school buildings. Despite the current economic downturn, Public Health has also been applauded for its stewardship of taxpayers’ dollars: in 2008 the health department returned $4.3 million to the Human Services Levy and is currently on schedule to return another $5.7 million at the end of 2011.

In addition to his duties as health commissioner, Gross holds leadership positions on numerous Montgomery County human service boards, and is currently the chair of the Child Fatality Review Board, Montgomery County Care, The Community Health Centers of Greater Dayton, and other councils that strive to enhance health care access to Montgomery County’s vulnerable population. Gross also volunteers on the clinical faculty at the Boonshoft School of Medicine.