Skip navigation

Past Recipients


2009 Alumni Award Recipients

Alumni Service Award

Ms. Lynn Marie Bechtel

Lynn M. Bechtel, BS '91, is a vehicle engineer at General Motors Corp. and a key GM executive for the MSU University Relations Team. She has been invaluable to the College of Engineering, serving on the advisory boards of both the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the college's alumni board (as chairperson from 2005-2008). A life member of the MSU Alumni Association, she has served tirelessly in student recruitment efforts, in advisory capacities, as a member of the engineering Board of Visitors, and as a donor since 1993. Bechtel has volunteered as emcee of the Reunion Days Gold Breakfast Club, as emcee of the college's Alumni Awards Banquet, and in many recruiting and fundraising events. She was responsible for the donation of a Chevrolet Silverado, used for towing the college's racing trailer to competitions around the country.

Mr. Bill T Fitzpatrick

Bill Fitzpatrick, MS '75, is vice president for Organization Effectiveness and Learning for Royal Dutch Shell's Downstream business, which employs more than 700,000 people in 100 countries. For the last seven years, he has been Shell's Campus Executive to MSU, overseeing the relationship between MSU and Shell's 25-person recruiting team and helping grow MSU donations by Shell. He has also served on the advisory board for MSU's School of Labor and Industrial Relations, served as guest lecturer, and given consulting advice on opening the new campus in Dubai. Fitzpatrick has been instrumental in bringing a number of substantial gifts to MSU from the Shell Oil Company. He established the Shell SITES (Students interested in technology) at MSU and supports the annual conference of the student chapter of the Society of Human Resources Management.

Ms. Michelle Anne Scott

Michelle A. Scott, BA and BS '95, MA '04, is founder, president and CEO of Voices for Health, Inc, a translation/interpretation company that aims to improve the quality of life and care for patients whose primary language is not English. Voices for Health has received seven awards for 'Plain Language' from the National Institutes of Health. In 2000, she made the cover of Nursing Profile magazine in an issue devoted to nursing entrepreneurs. In 2008, she received the Outstanding Service Award from the College of Nursing. She has maintained an active role in volunteer services, serving more than 12 community groups'including as chairperson for Healthy Kent and for Hispanic Community Forum, and as vice president of the 'West Michigan Migrant Research Council.'

Mr. Michael R VanGessel

Michael R. VanGessel, BS '89, is co-founder, president and CEO of the Rockford Construction Company, Grand Rapids, a $350 million company with 200 employees. The company's clients include Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Ferris State University and St. Mary's Health Care. He is also a board member of the Associated Builders and Contractors of West Michigan and of the West Michigan Minority Contractors Association. VanGessel serves on countless boards and associations, including the YMCA, the Economic Club of Grand Rapids, Inner City Christian Federation, Heartside Ministries Campaign, Guiding Light Mission, Grand Rapids Public Transportation Tomorrow, and many others. Within MSU, Mike is a member of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources' Stakeholder Advisory Council.


Distinguished Alumni Award

The Honorable E. Spencer Abraham

Spencer Abraham, BA '74, is currently chairman and CEO of The Abraham Group, Washington DC, an international strategic consulting firm. He served as U.S. Senator from Michigan for six years, authoring 22 pieces of legislation signed into law'unprecedented for a freshman senator. In 2001 he began his tenure as the longest-serving Secretary of Energy in U.S. history. Abraham was cochairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee and Deputy Chief of Staff to Vice President Dan Quayle. A 1974 graduate of Harvard Law School, Abraham founded the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy as well as Harvard's Federalist Society. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Occidental Petroleum and is a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

Dr. Anton Eugene Armstrong

Anton E. Armstrong, DMA '87, is the Harry R. and Thora H. Tosdal Professor of Music at St. Olaf College as well as the conductor of the St. Olaf Choir, which has emerged as a very popular broadcast on PBS around Christmas. In 2005, Armstrong and his choir were invited by President and Mrs. Bush to perform at the National Day of Prayer in the White House's East Room. One of the most respected choral directors in the country, Armstrong has performed worldwide, including Denmark, Venezuela, New Zealand and Jerusalem. He has conducted such noted ensembles as the Utah Symphony and Chorus, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the Westminster Choir and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. In 2006 he won the prestigious Robert Foster Cherry Award for great teaching.

Mr. Steve Nellis

Steve Nellis, BS '82, is the principal officer of Nellis & Associates and longtime executive with Centrex Homes, Dallas, Texas. He is currently president of the American Council for Construction Education (ACCE) and has served as the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) on the ACCE board. He was chairman of the Student Chapter Advisory Board of the Home Builders Institute. Since 1993, he has been coordinator of the NAHB national student competition. In his 20-year career with Centrex, Nellis helped build more than 3,000 homes. He also developed a college recruiting effort that placed about 100 students'including many MSU graduates'within Centrex. He created a subsidiary of Centrex Homes known as Fox & Jacobs Homes.

Dr. Michael Johannes VanRooyen M.D., M.P.H.

Michael VanRooyen, BS '84, is an associate professor of the Harvard Medical School and an associate professor of global health at the Harvard School of Public Health. He is founder and director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and chief of the Division of International Health and Humanitarian Programs at the Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts. His work with relief efforts extends to more than 30 countries through organizations like International Rescue Committee (IRC), CARE, Save the Children, and Physicians for Human Rights. VanRooyen has served as special advisor to the World Health Organization, the U.S. Peace Corps, and the United Nations Inter-Agency Standing Committee Health Cluster. He also serves on the IRC Board of Directors. He provided relief assistance at the scene of the World Trade Tower disaster with the American Red Cross.


Honorary Alumni Award

Dr. Michael L Kasavana Ph.D.

Michael L. Kasavana is the NAMA Endowed Professor in MSU's The School of Hospitality Business and a Distinguished Faculty Award winner. He has authored many books, including Managing Front Office Operations (Eighth Edition), Menu Engineering (Third Edition), and Managing Technology in the Hospitality Industry (Fifth Edition). He is a member of the Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals International Technology Hall of Fame. Kasavana serves as the MSU Faculty Athletic Representative to the Big Ten, the CCHA and the NCAA, and also serves as chair of the MSU Athletic Council. As head coach of the MSU women's gymnastics team from 1978 to 1988, he won six consecutive Big Ten championships and was named Big Ten Coach of the Year in 1988. The Kasavana family contributed half the funding for the Kasavana/Schmidgall Faculty Research Endowment in The School of Hospitality Business.


Philanthropist Award

Mr. Bradford Robert Breuer

The Demmer Family: John Demmer and his late wife Marnie; son Bill Demmer, BS '70, and his wife Linda; son Ed Demmer and his wife Laura; and daughter Marguerite (Peg Demmer) Breuer, BA '73, and her husband Bradford. The family has collectively made a gift to name the Demmer Family Hall of History in the Skandalaris Football Center. Over their lifetime, John and Marnie have supported the Mildred B. Erickson Scholarship, the SAE Formula Car Racing, intercollegiate athletics, broadcasting services, and the John and Marnie Demmer Shooting, Sports, Education and Training Center. Bill and Linda have pledged to name a gallery in the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum. Ed and Laura have made a gift to name the Head Coach's Office in the Duffy Daugherty Building expansion.

Mr. John E Demmer

The Demmer Family: John Demmer and his late wife Marnie; son Bill Demmer, BS '70, and his wife Linda; son Ed Demmer and his wife Laura; and daughter Marguerite (Peg Demmer) Breuer, BA '73, and her husband Bradford. The family has collectively made a gift to name the Demmer Family Hall of History in the Skandalaris Football Center. Over their lifetime, John and Marnie have supported the Mildred B. Erickson Scholarship, the SAE Formula Car Racing, intercollegiate athletics, broadcasting services, and the John and Marnie Demmer Shooting, Sports, Education and Training Center. Bill and Linda have pledged to name a gallery in the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum. Ed and Laura have made a gift to name the Head Coach's Office in the Duffy Daugherty Building expansion.

Mrs. Marguerite Eleanor Demmer

The Demmer Family: John Demmer and his late wife Marnie; son Bill Demmer, BS '70, and his wife Linda; son Ed Demmer and his wife Laura; and daughter Marguerite (Peg Demmer) Breuer, BA '73, and her husband Bradford. The family has collectively made a gift to name the Demmer Family Hall of History in the Skandalaris Football Center. Over their lifetime, John and Marnie have supported the Mildred B. Erickson Scholarship, the SAE Formula Car Racing, intercollegiate athletics, broadcasting services, and the John and Marnie Demmer Shooting, Sports, Education and Training Center. Bill and Linda have pledged to name a gallery in the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum. Ed and Laura have made a gift to name the Head Coach's Office in the Duffy Daugherty Building expansion.

Mr. William A Demmer

William Demmer was raised in a green and white family, attending MSU hockey, basketball and football games regularly. He knew from an early age, being the son and grandson of tool and die makers and engineers, that he, too, was destined for a mechanical life. Demmer graduated from Michigan State University with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering in 1970. Upon graduation, he entered the family business and led the company into the world of lean production systems. Much of Demmer's business and personal entertainment has been experienced at MSU sporting and cultural venues. So much of his life has been shaped by these events that he and his family have made meaningful investments in MSU. Demmer contributions have benefited the creation of the 'Demmer Family Hall of History' in the new football Skandalaris Center, along with the construction of the John and Marnie Demmer Shooting Sports Center. Demmer and his wife Linda, who is an accomplished artist, funded the 'William and Linda Demmer Gallery' for traveling art in the new Broad Art Museum. In addition to these investments, Demmer also contributed significantly to help endow the Boone & Crockett Club Professor for Conservation Policy in the School of Fisheries and Wildlife, of which he is currently executive vice president. This club aims at preserving wildlife and its habitat.

Mr. William A Demmer

The Demmer Family: John Demmer and his late wife Marnie; son Bill Demmer, BS '70, and his wife Linda; son Ed Demmer and his wife Laura; and daughter Marguerite (Peg Demmer) Breuer, BA '73, and her husband Bradford. The family has collectively made a gift to name the Demmer Family Hall of History in the Skandalaris Football Center. Over their lifetime, John and Marnie have supported the Mildred B. Erickson Scholarship, the SAE Formula Car Racing, intercollegiate athletics, broadcasting services, and the John and Marnie Demmer Shooting, Sports, Education and Training Center. Bill and Linda have pledged to name a gallery in the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum. Ed and Laura have made a gift to name the Head Coach's Office in the Duffy Daugherty Building expansion.

Mrs. Linda Ann Demmer

The Demmer Family: John Demmer and his late wife Marnie; son Bill Demmer, BS '70, and his wife Linda; son Ed Demmer and his wife Laura; and daughter Marguerite (Peg Demmer) Breuer, BA '73, and her husband Bradford. The family has collectively made a gift to name the Demmer Family Hall of History in the Skandalaris Football Center. Over their lifetime, John and Marnie have supported the Mildred B. Erickson Scholarship, the SAE Formula Car Racing, intercollegiate athletics, broadcasting services, and the John and Marnie Demmer Shooting, Sports, Education and Training Center. Bill and Linda have pledged to name a gallery in the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum. Ed and Laura have made a gift to name the Head Coach's Office in the Duffy Daugherty Building expansion.

Mr. Edward J Demmer

The Demmer Family: John Demmer and his late wife Marnie; son Bill Demmer, BS '70, and his wife Linda; son Ed Demmer and his wife Laura; and daughter Marguerite (Peg Demmer) Breuer, BA '73, and her husband Bradford. The family has collectively made a gift to name the Demmer Family Hall of History in the Skandalaris Football Center. Over their lifetime, John and Marnie have supported the Mildred B. Erickson Scholarship, the SAE Formula Car Racing, intercollegiate athletics, broadcasting services, and the John and Marnie Demmer Shooting, Sports, Education and Training Center. Bill and Linda have pledged to name a gallery in the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum. Ed and Laura have made a gift to name the Head Coach's Office in the Duffy Daugherty Building expansion.

Mrs. Laura A Demmer

The Demmer Family: John Demmer and his late wife Marnie; son Bill Demmer, BS '70, and his wife Linda; son Ed Demmer and his wife Laura; and daughter Marguerite (Peg Demmer) Breuer, BA '73, and her husband Bradford. The family has collectively made a gift to name the Demmer Family Hall of History in the Skandalaris Football Center. Over their lifetime, John and Marnie have supported the Mildred B. Erickson Scholarship, the SAE Formula Car Racing, intercollegiate athletics, broadcasting services, and the John and Marnie Demmer Shooting, Sports, Education and Training Center. Bill and Linda have pledged to name a gallery in the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum. Ed and Laura have made a gift to name the Head Coach's Office in the Duffy Daugherty Building expansion.

Ms. Marguerite Ann Demmer

The Demmer Family: John Demmer and his late wife Marnie; son Bill Demmer, BS '70, and his wife Linda; son Ed Demmer and his wife Laura; and daughter Marguerite (Peg Demmer) Breuer, BA '73, and her husband Bradford. The family has collectively made a gift to name the Demmer Family Hall of History in the Skandalaris Football Center. Over their lifetime, John and Marnie have supported the Mildred B. Erickson Scholarship, the SAE Formula Car Racing, intercollegiate athletics, broadcasting services, and the John and Marnie Demmer Shooting, Sports, Education and Training Center. Bill and Linda have pledged to name a gallery in the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum. Ed and Laura have made a gift to name the Head Coach's Office in the Duffy Daugherty Building expansion.

Mr. R. Drayton McLane

Drayton McLane, Jr., MBA '59, is chairman of the McLane Group, Texas, and CEO and owner of the Houston Astros. He committed $4 million to build the McLane Baseball Stadium in Old College Field, the largest commitment to an Olympic sport in MSU history, and second largest cash gift in the history of Spartan athletics. The lead gift expedited additional major gifts to the project and also allowed the MSU Athletics Department to meet all campaign objectives. A member of the Forbes 400 list, McLane credits MSU with helping shape his success in business. He has received several awards from MSU'an Honorary Doctor of Humanities degree in 1997, a Distinghished Alumni Award in 1994, and the Baseball Alumnus of the Year Award in 2008.


Young Alumni Award

Dr. Gerald R. DeJean Ph.D.

Gerald Reuben DeJean, II, BS '00, is a researcher and electrical engineer with Microsoft Corp. and an adjunct professor at Georgia Tech. He is at the cutting edge of RF/Wireless technologies' design and packaging, and his expertise extends to such advanced areas as nanoantennas and 3D architectures on flexible organic materials such as liquid crystal polymers. He has won many prestigious fellowships in his field. DeJean has published 13 journal articles, more than 25 conference papers, and a scholarly book, Compact Broadband and Multiband Antenna Designs for Millimeter-Wave Applications (2008). He has three patents and is a pioneer in the field of mobile communications, which is of critical importance to underdeveloped nations. He is also active in community affairs, volunteering to tutor youths in Seattle.