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Past Recipients



2015 Alumni Award Recipients

Alumni Service Award

Mr. Steven H Noll

Steven H. Noll received his B.S. in Engineering from Michigan State University in 1974 and his J.D. from The Ohio State University, Moritz College of Law in 1977. He is currently a partner with Schiff Harden LLP in Chicago specializing in intellectual property law. He is a generous donor to the College of Engineering, the Spartan Marching Band, the College of Music and the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, and dedicates countless hours to the university. With the College of Engineering he has served on the Alumni Board and the Dean Search Committee and he visits each year to deliver carefully crafted lectures to students within the college. Noll has also served on the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum Advisory Board. In addition to his monetary gifts, he has committed to donating his $1.1 million collection of prints to the university's art collection. Noll has been a longtime supporter of the Spartan Marching Band, due to his time as a tenor saxophonist, and serves on the MSU College of Music National Leadership Council. As a Spartan, he has given service beyond the ordinary not only as an outstanding leader in his field and a generous donor to the university, but as a true Spartan who forever bleeds green.


Distinguished Alumni Award

Mr. Eljay Bryce Bowron

Eljay Bowron received his B.A. in Criminal Justice from Michigan State University in 1974. He is currently working as the chairman for TorchStone Global, an international company providing strategic security advice and consulting. Bowron has had an illustrious career within the private sector and the government, working as a Detroit police officer and eventually serving as the director of the Secret Service from 1993-1997. Additionally, he worked as Inspector General in the Department of the Interior and held senior positions at the Social Security Administration and Government Accounting Office. He also worked as executive vice president and chief operating officer of Vance International, a prominent global security and consulting firm. Bowron maintains an impressive resume of volunteer work that spans many years. He has had extensive involvement with the Shinsky Orphanage, which serves abandoned, neglected and abused children. In 2009 he participated in the 2,000 mile bike ride event for the Shinsky Orphanage. Dedicated to a life of service, he is currently contributing his talents and leadership to foundation work that helps rehabilitate human trafficking victims. He is currently providing his leadership and skills as a member on three different boards. Between his career and volunteer work, Bowron possesses the utmost integrity and greatly enhances the pride of the Spartan community

Mr. William Harold Mayes

A two-time Spartan graduate, William Mayes received a B.A. in Speech andRhetoric in 1969 and an M.A. in Education Administration in 1974. Since graduating, Mayes has led an illustrious career within education. He has been a lifelong K-12 educator, spanning from teacher to superintendent. He recently retired as the executive director of Michigan Association of School Administrators. Mayes' leadership and volunteer service spans decades. Within his service to the Michigan Association of School Administrators, he launched and developed the Courageous Journey certification endorsement program, raised teaching standards and advocated to protect vital education programs. He has served as president of the Education Alliance of Michigan and officer of the Michigan Nonprofit Association. He has also chaired the American Association of School Administrators Association of State Executives. Mayes has a far-reaching record of service in the Huron County area, from the Port Austin Lions Club to the Huron Medical Center. In 2007, he was appointed by Governor Granholm to represent education on Michigan's Fire Safety Board, being reappointed in 2013 and serving as vice chairperson until February 2015. Mayes has also been an ambassador, leading a number of educational delegations to China through MSU. Among many awards, Mayes won the 2002 Crystal Apple Award from the Michigan State University College of Education. Having changed thousands of lives through education, Mayes maintains the highest standards of the green and white community.

Dr. Kurtis Allen Dunckel D.V.M.

Receiving his B.S. in Physiology in 1978 and his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine in 1982, Kurt Dunckel enhances the Spartan image in numerous ways. Since his graduation, Dunckel has built a veterinary hospital from the ground up, all the while dedicating countless hours of service to his community. Dunckel is currently serving his second term on the Michigan Veterinary Medical Association Board of Directors, and has been a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association since his graduation in 1982. He is past president and current board member of the Saginaw Valley Veterinary Medical Association. He has been involved with the Davison Optimist Club since 1991, serving as past president and member. He has given numerous scholarships to graduating high school seniors in the Davison area. For more than 15 years, he has been a part of the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program. His service to Michigan State University is also remarkable, including mentoring College of Veterinary Medicine students and serving as a volunteer for MSU's Empower Extraordinary Capital Campaign. His financial support to the Michigan State College of Veterinary Medicine has enabled the renovation of the Emergency and Critical Care section, making a significant difference for both patients and practitioners. Dunckel is not only a leader in his field but upholds the highest standards of integrity and character, making any Spartan proud.

Ms. Martha A Mertz

Martha M. Mertz received her B.A in Women's Studies in 2001 from Michigan State University. Since graduating she has become the founder and current president of Mayhood/Mertz Realtors, a successful development and brokerage firm. Mertz has created a colorful path of visionary leadership and service throughout her career. She provides endless support for women's leadership, as evidenced by her founding of ATHENA International, an organization dedicated to developing leadership opportunities for women and recognizing female leadership. Since its establishment, ATHENA has recognized thousands of outstanding women leaders. Without Mertz, this wouldn't have been possible. She served as its president from 1982 to 1999 and still serves on its Board of Directors and Executive Committee. International presentations and mentoring of female inmates are just two of the countless volunteer activities she has established through ATHENA. She has also held numerous board positions, from president of the Greater Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce to vice president of the Capitol Region Community Foundation. Stemming from her outstanding leadership in the community, she has earned countless awards in recognition of her leadership and ingenuity within her field. With a commitment to inspire women to reach their full potential, Mertz has blazed a path of leadership worthy of the greatest Spartan.

Mrs. Pamella G DeVos

In 1984, Pamella DeVos graduated with a B.A. in Business Administration from Michigan State University. Since then, DeVos has built an extensive professional background in public relations and marketing. She is currently the president and designer of Pamella Roland, a successful clothing design business. She and her husband Dan also founded DP Fox Ventures LLC, a diversified management company with interests in real estate, transportation, insurance, fashion, sports and entertainment. Her service career spans all corners of the arts. She has served in many capacities for the Grand Rapids Art Museum, co-chairing major exhibitions and events. In New York City, she currently serves as vice president of the Board of Trustees at the Whitney Museum of American Art. DeVos also maintains leadership positions with the Grand Rapids Ballet and the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra. She co-founded Liz's House Fashion Show, a charity fundraising event benefitting homeless women and children. She has brought hope to disadvantaged children in Haiti through the Advisory Board of the Edeyo Foundation. In 2011, she was invited to serve on the Women's Advisory Council at the George W. Bush institute, which aims to harness the power of female leaders to improve their native countries. The philanthropic support of Dan and Pamella DeVos for the Secchia Center was instrumental in bringing the College of Human Medicine to Grand Rapids. DeVos has received a plethora of awards in recognition of her dedication and service, and stands as an inspiration to any Spartan.


Philanthropist Award

Mrs. Joan P Secchia

Peter Secchia entered Michigan State University after serving three years in the United States Marine Corps. He graduated in 1963 with a bachelor's degree in Economics. The following year he married Joan Peterson (1964, Elementary Education). They raised a family of four in Grand Rapids; Joan taught school while Peter began a successful business career, highlighted by numerous corporate chairmanships. Peter was appointed the United States Ambassador to Italy from 1989 1993. Francesco Cossiga, former President of the Republic of Italy, called Secchia 'the best U.S. ambassador to Italy I have ever known.' Joan has served on various philanthropic and organization boards within the United States and abroad. Both have extensive board and trustee experience spanning more than half a century. Their accomplishments on behalf of the Michigan State University community are astounding. Recently, their $3 million gift endowed the defensive coordinator position for football. Over time, this endowment will prove just as invaluable as the existing Spartan Football Secchia Travel Fund for recruiting purposes. Peter and Joan also gave the lead gift to build the Secchia Stadium on Old College Field to support the softball program. Additionally, Peter co-chaired the fundraising campaign for the Clara Bell Smith Academic Center. The Secchias were visionary community champions of moving the College of Human Medicine to its current Grand Rapids location. They donated much of their time and also their financial support to the College of Human Medicine campus in Grand Rapids and its centerpiece, the Secchia Center. The new location and facilities give the college access to top-tier talent, a broad community base and the proximity for building strong partnerships with medical, research and economic resources. Among a plethora of memberships and board positions, Peter currently serves on the Athletic Director's Campaign Leadership Council and Joan is on the College of Education Campaign Committee. In these positions, they provide philanthropic leadership as well as valuable input and support for MSU programs. Both are honorary chairs of President Simon's Cabinet for Empower Extraordinary, the campaign for MSU. Taking a stroll around campus, one can see the tremendous impact the Secchias have had. Between their service and philanthropic leadership, Peter and Joan Secchia have made a profound difference in the story of Michigan State University.

The Honorable Peter Finley Secchia

Peter Secchia entered Michigan State University after serving three years in the United States Marine Corps. He graduated in 1963 with a bachelor's degree in Economics. The following year he married Joan Peterson (1964, Elementary Education). They raised a family of four in Grand Rapids; Joan taught school while Peter began a successful business career, highlighted by numerous corporate chairmanships. Peter was appointed the United States Ambassador to Italy from 1989 1993. Francesco Cossiga, former President of the Republic of Italy, called Secchia 'the best U.S. ambassador to Italy I have ever known.' Joan has served on various philanthropic and organization boards within the United States and abroad. Both have extensive board and trustee experience spanning more than half a century. Their accomplishments on behalf of the Michigan State University community are astounding. Recently, their $3 million gift endowed the defensive coordinator position for football. Over time, this endowment will prove just as invaluable as the existing Spartan Football Secchia Travel Fund for recruiting purposes. Peter and Joan also gave the lead gift to build the Secchia Stadium on Old College Field to support the softball program. Additionally, Peter co-chaired the fundraising campaign for the Clara Bell Smith Academic Center. The Secchias were visionary community champions of moving the College of Human Medicine to its current Grand Rapids location. They donated much of their time and also their financial support to the College of Human Medicine campus in Grand Rapids and its centerpiece, the Secchia Center. The new location and facilities give the college access to top-tier talent, a broad community base and the proximity for building strong partnerships with medical, research and economic resources. Among a plethora of memberships and board positions, Peter currently serves on the Athletic Director's Campaign Leadership Council and Joan is on the College of Education Campaign Committee. In these positions, they provide philanthropic leadership as well as valuable input and support for MSU programs. Both are honorary chairs of President Simon's Cabinet for Empower Extraordinary, the campaign for MSU. Taking a stroll around campus, one can see the tremendous impact the Secchias have had. Between their service and philanthropic leadership, Peter and Joan Secchia have made a profound difference in the story of Michigan State University.


Young Alumni Award

Mr. Thomas Alexander Stewart

Thomas A. Stewart received his B.A. in Psychology from Michigan State University in 2005. Since his graduation, Stewart has been a catalyst for entrepreneurship in Michigan. He is currently managing partner at the Center for New Enterprise Opportunity, where he is a professional manager and business coach. His past work experiences range from investing in and starting six businesses to creating local jobs and raising revenue in the Lansing business arena. Stewart harbors remarkable support for future and current entrepreneurs. He's continually working with numerous Michigan State programs such as MSU Spartan Innovation, The Hatch, and the MSU Entrepreneurship Association. These organizations facilitate innovation and personally mentor tomorrow's business leaders. He also founded Common Wealth Enterprises, an organization that incorporates social issue awareness in community businesses. He has an unyielding drive to aid numerous local businesses and initiatives, such as the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce and Capital Area United Way's Young Leader Society. With an enthusiasm and passion for entrepreneurship, Stewart helps ideas become reality. Stewart received the Lansing Chamber of Commerce '10 Over the Next Ten' award in 2010 and is listed on the 2013 'Ones to Watch' list from MLive Lansing. Not only is he well respected within the business community, but he is known for his integrity and character, a truly impeccable Spartan.

Mr. Peter John Spadafore

Graduating in 2007, Peter J. Spadafore received his B.A. in Social Relations and Policy from James Madison College at Michigan State University. Since graduating, Spadafore has worked heavily and influentially within the field of education. His experience stems from being an associate director at the Michigan Elementary and Middle School Principals Association and the Michigan Association of School Boards, and legislative director at Acuitas, LLC. He's currently the vice president of Michigan Independent Colleges and Universities, an organization committed to promoting non-profit institutions of higher education in Michigan. He was a fellow in the Michigan Political Leadership Program in 2008 and a 2013 recipient of the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce '10 Over the Next Ten' award. In 2011, he was elected onto the Lansing School District Board of Education, where he currently serves as president. As the president, he oversees the nine member board responsible for a $160 million budget and 12,000 students. He has also volunteered with Relay for Life, AIDS walk Michigan, Ronald McDonald House of Lansing, Lansing Educational Advancement Foundation, and served on the board of directors for the YMCA of Lansing. He currently is the vice president of the James Madison College Alumni Association Board of Directors. Additionally, Spadafore is pursuing his PhD in Educational Policy from Michigan State University. In every aspect, Peter J. Spadafore is an outstanding Spartan and truly embodies the philosophy of Spartans Will.

Ms. Evangelina Palma-Ramirez

A two-time graduate of Michigan State University, Evangelina Palma Ramirez received her B.S. in Psychology in 2005 and her M.S. in Clinical Social Work in 2012. She is currently a third year Social Work PhD student at Michigan State University. Starting as an English as a Second Language learner, Palma Ramirez has forged an outstanding path of service. She co-founded the Tech en La Casa/Technology to Home program that empowers Spanish-speaking parents through teaching basic computer skills. She also co-founded the statewide empowerment network for Latinas, WIN-Hispanic (Women in the Network). As a coordinator and volunteer she has had extensive leadership involvement with the Cristo Rey Church and Community Center as well as the Michigan State University community. Palma Ramirez strives to build a stronger Latina community that harvests leadership and education. Her masters and doctoral work has focused on violence against women and the Latina community. She has earned seven fellowships and various scholarships. Her research has taken her all the way from Lansing to Merida, Yucatan, Mexico. Despite a non-traditional start, with courage and resilience, Palma Ramirez stands at the top of her doctoral class, a true leader among leaders. From elementary emotional support to adult counseling she has directed and coordinated programs that change lives. Her compassion and unyielding determination to create a better world make her an exemplary Spartan.