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The MSUAA's Grand Awards



  • Author:
    Robert Bao
  • Published:
    Winter 2012

Eight individuals were honored October 20 at the annual MSU Alumni Grand Awards Reception held at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center.Selected by the MSU Alumni Association Awards Committee, honorees received five awards-the MSU Distinguished Alumni Award, the Philanthropist Award, the Alumni Service Award, the Honorary Alumni Award and the Distinguished Young Alumni Award.

Distinguished Alumni Award: The distinguished alumni award is given annually to alumni who have distinguished themselves by obtaining the highest level of professional accomplishments and who possess the highest standards of integrity and character to positively reflect and enhance the prestige of MSU.

W. Clark Bunting, '77, MA '84, president and general manager of the Discovery Channel, and founder of Animal Planet, has overseen the growth of the company and its many mainstays, such as Shark Week, American Choppers and Mythbusters. Bunting oversees all aspects of the network's programming, production, development, operations, new media, marketing, communications and research teams, and under his leadership the network has become a global icon.

Kennethearhart, '83, director of the Center for Disease Control, Global Disease Detection Center, New Delhi, India. Before joining the CDC he was commanding officer of the US NAMRU-3, an infectious diseases research institute in Cairo, Egypt, leading operations throughout North Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Central Asia. His diverse and successful 22-year career in the U.S. Navy included Duties in Japan as 7th fleet diving and submarine medical officer.

Philanthropist Award:

This award is presented to an individual, family, association, corporation or foundation with a proven record of providing major, on-going financial support and leadership to MSU. The candidates will have demonstrated outstanding philanthropic responsibility toward MSU; their generosity encourages others to take leadership roles in philanthropy toward MSU.

Bernadette, '80, and Timothy Marquez, of the Timothy and Bernadette Marquez Foundation, Denver, CO. Bernadette worked for many years as a nurse and today manages a corporate giving program for Venoco, Inc., an energy company founded and led by Timothy Marquez. They made the lead commitment that will enable MSU's Nursing Research Center and faculty to relocate into the new Bott Building for Nursing Education and Research.

Alumni Service Award:

This award is presented to MSU alumni who have demonstrated continuing outstanding volunteer service to MSU and/or meritorious public service on a local, state, national or international level.Candidates must possess the highest standards of integrity and character to positively reflect and enhance the prestige of MSU.

Steven Heacock, '78, senior vice president, Community Relations, Spectrum Health, Grand Rapids, MI, has worked as an executive for health and medical research organizations for many years, helping to create or oversee results for many community organizations, including the Kent County Commission representing Cascade Township, Convention and Arena Authority chairman, Priority Health, Van Andel Institute and Spectrum Health. Previously he worked as a CPA and later as an attorney and partner at Warner, Norcross and Judd, Grand Rapids.

Honorary Alumni Award:

The Honorary Alumni Award is given annually to candidates who have demonstrated continuing outstanding volunteer service to MSU on a local, state, national or international level, and who possess the highest standards of integrity and character to positively reflect and enhance the prestige of MSU.

Carole Ames served 18 years as dean of MSU's College of Education, stepping down last year after a sustained No. 1 ranking in elementary and secondary education by U.S. News & World Report. Ames initiated the college's first online-only degree program, championed cutting-edge research that makes a difference, and promoted many global initiatives. Her Scholarship and research have been recognized with the award of fellow status in the American Psychological Association.

Distinguished Young Alumni Award:

The Distinguished Young Alumni Award is given annually to candidates who have distinguished themselves by obtaining a high level of professional accomplishment and who possess high standards of integrity and character to positively reflect and enhance the prestige of MSU.These individuals demonstrate a commitment to MSU by continuing outstanding volunteer service on behalf of the university and/ or participation and leadership in meritorious public service on a local, state, national or international level.

Brittany Fox. '09, is the director and founder of Thai Song Fair Trade, a social business dedicated to empowering Thai women to overcome poverty, improve their community and better their Environment by using recycled materials to craft trendy accessories for a global market. Today Thai Song's work isn't limited to the slums of Bangkok but spreads globally through advocacy for environmental and humanitarian awareness to its customers across three continents.

Aaron Scheidies, '04, is a physical therapist and a professional triathlete, a five-time world champion and seven-time national champion.Though legally blind, he has competed in 125 triathlons around the globe. At MSU, Aaron achieved a perfect 4.0 GPA, was president of the MSU Triathlon Club, volunteered over 100 hours helping other students with disabilities and was inducted into the Athletes with Disabilities Hall of Fame. He is currently enjoying a career in modeling.

Ladies First, MSU's only all-female a cappella group, provided entertainment for the MSUAA's Grand Awards Gala.

The heart of Old College Field will soon add a striking entrance thanks to a $2 million gift from the Joe D. Pentecost Foundation. Starting in Spring 2012, the gift will be used to construct Pentecost Plaza at Michigan State's most historic athletic site and the current home for Spartan baseball, soft ball and men's and women's soccer.

The Pentecost Foundation was established in 2002. Joe, who died in 2006, was an entrepreneur and real estate developer whose love and passion for MSU was evident for more than 35 years as a season-ticket holder and loyal donor. During his life, he contributed to the Spartan Stadium Expansion Project, the Berkowitz Basketball Complex and the Clara Bell Smith Student-Athlete Academic Center. The Pentecost Foundation has faithfully continued to carry out Joe's passion by establishing the Joe D. Pentecost Foundation Scholarship, the naming of the Joe D. Pentecost Football Team Meeting Room and several other special projects. Fittingly, Pentecost Plaza will include a donor recognition wall for others who support MSU.

"We are so pleased to add the Pentecost name to Old College Field," says Mark Hollis, athletics director. "Joe Pentecost meant a great deal to MSU and his generosity elevated our program, MSU And our entire community. We are tremendously grateful for the ongoing commitment of the Pentecost Foundation to significantly enrich the student-athlete experience and provide a state-of-the-art complex for our coaches to recruit top notch student-athletes."

Pentecost Plaza will join McLane Baseball Stadium, built in 2009 following a $4 million gift from alumnus Drayton McLane, Jr.; the Secchia Softball Stadium, completed earlier this year after a lead $1 million gift from alumnus Amabassador Peter F. and Joan Secchia; and a $750,000 lead gift by the Doug DeMartin family in 2008 to construct the new soccer complex.

The addition of Pentecost Plaza makes MSU's baseball, soft ball and soccer facilities collectively the best in the nation, say the coaches.Gathered around an artist rendering of Pentecost Plaza near the spot where construction will begin in Spring 2012 are (fr om left ) Men's Soccer Coach Damon Rensing; Women's Soft ball Coach Jacquie Joseph; Athletics Director Mark Hollis; Pentecost Foundation Board Members Pete Lutz, Rita Stoskopf, president and executive director, and Robert Phillips; and Men's Baseball Coach Jake Boss, Jr.