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Alma Matters

  • Author:
    Robert Bao
  • Published:
    Spring 2012


CENTRAL OHIO—Oct. 15: More than 100 Spartans and Wolverines gathered to watch the MSU-UM game. Sep. 17: About 35 area Spartans gathered at Gallo’s Tap Room, Columbus, to watch the MSU-Notre Dame game.

COASTAL ALUMNI, GA— Nov.: Area Spartans gathered for football game watches at B&D Burgers, Savannah, GA.the club raised $500 for cancer research at MSU.

DALLAS/FORT WORTH, TX—Nov. 15: About 45 area Spartans attended a game watch of MSU-Duke at Blackfinn Restaurant & Saloon, Addison.Special guests included MSUAA Executive Director Scott Westerman, MSUAA Associate Director Sue Petrisin, and MSU Development Officer Brenda Parolini.

DC SPARTANS—Dec. 4: Nearly 70 area Spartans gathered for a holiday tea party at the Willard Hotel. Dec. 3: About 300 area Spartans attended a reception at the Capitol Lounge to meet Seth “Mayhem” Mitchell, former MSU linebacker who is a heavyweight boxing contender. Oct. 8: More than 30 area Spartans hosted the MSU Army ROTC 10-miler team at the Capitol Lounge for a reception prior to the big race in Washington, DC.

EASTERN WAYNE COUNTY—Nov. 18: More than 100 area Spartans attended a Presentation on forensic science by MSU professors David Foran and Todd Fenton at the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club. Oct. 15: Some 60 area Spartans and Wolverines attended a party to watch the MSU-UM football game at the Dirty Dog Jazz Café in Grosse Pointe Farms. Oct. 1: More than 70 area Spartans attended a game watch of MSU-OSU at Village Grille, Grosse Pointe Park.

GREATER NEW YORK— Sep. 9: More than 50 area Spartans attended the Spartan Fall Fest at Heartland Brewery, Empire State Building. Special guest was MSUAA Assistant Director Tim Bograkos. The club raised $1,150 for its Endowed scholarship fund.

GREATER ST. LOUIS, MO— Oct. 8: More than two dozen area young alumni enjoyed a tour of Missouri wineries.

KANSAS CITY—Dec. 3: About 50 area Spartans gathered At Fox and Hound, Overland Park, KS, for the Big Ten Championship football game watch.Nov. 11: About 70 area Spartans and Tar Heels—represented by club presidents John Mertz and Laura Grooms—watched the Carrier Classic telecast at Fox & Hound. The event raised $300 for the USO.

METRO CHICAGO—Dec. 10: About 100 area Spartans attended the Tacky Sweater Christmas Party at the Tin Lizzie. Nov. 6: About 300 people attended a lecture by MSU Professor Paul Thompson, the W. K. Kellogg Chair in Agricultural, Food and Community Ethics, during the Chicago Humanities Festival at The Chicago History Museum.Nov. 5: About 80 area Spartans took part in the Spartan Fall Crawl, visiting eight Chicago bars.Sep. 19: About 70 area Spartans attended a golf outing at Prairie Landing, a fundraiser for the club’s endowed scholarship.

MID-MICHIGAN—Oct. 14: Dave Brown, MSUAA assistant director, and Sparty were among some 130 Spartans who celebrated the club’s 45th anniversary at the Spartan Hall of Fame Café.Special guests included MSUAA Executive Director Scott Westerman, MSU Cheerleaders and members of the Spartan Marching Band.

NORTH FLORIDA—Dec. 4: About 20 area Spartans attended a holiday party at the home of John and Melanie Dillingham in Jacksonville. Over 50 pounds of pet food was collected to benefit Pet Meals on Wheels.

OREGON & SOUTHWEST WASHINGTON—Nov. 11: About 20 alumni from MSU and North Carolina watched the Carrier Classic basketball game at Macadam’s Bar & Grill, Portland, OR. Over 110 pounds of food was donated to the Oregon Food Bank (see photo).

SAN DIEGO, CA—Oct.: Area Spartans visited nine college fairs attended by 10,000 area students.In 2010, 40 area students were admitted to MSU—and 15 of them registered.

SEATTLE, WA—Nov. 11: About 60 area Spartans and Tar Heels gathered to watch the Carrier Classic telecast at Buckleys.About 150 pounds of food was collected to benefit the NW Harvest food bank.

SPACE COAST, FLORIDA—Sep. 7: About 18 area Spartans participated in a two-day football and wine tour, attending the MSU-Florida Atlantic game and visiting wineries in Traverse City’s Old Mission Peninsula.

WEST MICHIGAN—Oct. 14: Tom Braun (left) and Tim Klaes completed a 62-mile run from Grand Rapids to Spartan Stadium to raise awareness for the Wounded Warrior Project, on the day before the MSU-UM game.Oct. 9: About 300 area Spartans attended the first Spartan Harvest Spectacular at Robinette’s Apple Haus and Orchard, which provided each family with a gallon Of cider and a dozen doughnuts.


JAMES MADISON ColLEGE— Sep. 8: More than 100 people attended the JMCAA student welcoming reception at Wilson Hall Auditorium. It was an opportunity for students to network and receive career advice from alumni.

SOCIAL SCIENCE—Oct. 22: More than 300 alumni and friends attended the College of Social Science Homecoming Tailgate. Special guest was Dean Marietta baba.


MEXICO CITY—Nov. 8: About 25 area Spartans and friends gathered at the home of club leader Jose Calderoni-Arroyo and his wife Christine Guerra.

SINGAPORE—Sep. 20: Patricia Croom (lower right), director of International Admissions, met with Singapore alumni at the Red Dot Brewhouse.

SHANGHAI, CHINA— Oct. 22: (L to r) Dan Eschtruth, Todd Kundinger, Jackie Wang and Jerry Chang were among some 20 area Spartans who gathered at the Camel Sports Bar to watch the MSU-Wisconsin game. Special guest was Todd Kundinger, former president of the Midland Alumni Club.

TAIWAN—Dec. 17: About 50 area Spartans gathered for an annual meeting at the Artco de Café in Taipei. Sep. 17: About 18 area alumni met for a picnic and alumni reunion at Tanshan Farm, Jingualiao, New Taipei City.

TOKYO, JAPAN—Jun. 21: Members of the Tokyo alumni club hosted a reception to welcome Stefanie Lenway (third row, middle), dean of MSU’s Broad College of Business, and her husband thomas P. Murtha.

URUGUAY—Nov. 20: Club President Jorge Arboleya received an update of MSU news from Robert Bao, editor of the MSU Alumni MagazineAlumni Magazine.


LATINO ALUMNI—Oct. 22: About 150 Latino alumni participated in homecoming events, including a reception and tailgate at the Kedzie Courtyard. Returning alumni hailed from as far away as California and Florida. A Latino Alumni Endowed Scholarship has been established.

SPARTAN PLATES—Last summer, the Spartan Plates, a club consisting of Spartan fans who honor MSU with their personalized license plates, gathered for its 33rd annual luncheon on the front steps of Morrill Hall. the historic building opened in 1900 as the first women’s residence hall on campus.

THIS IS SPARTA!—Bruce, ’70, and Karen Richards, ’70, pose by the statue of King Leonidas in Sparta, Greece.  they were part of some 51 alumni traveling with the MSU Alumni Association’s “Best of the Mediterranean and Greek Isles” tour last fall. Historians say that Leonidas died along with 300 Spartans in the Battle of  ermopylae against the Persians—a Battle that gave the Greeks time to regroup and eventually beat the Persians in the Battle of Salamis.

GO GREEN!—A Spartan fan rings a cowbell at the MSU Detroit Center’s  anksgiving Day Parade Party. He was part of a contingent of 200 Spartans enjoying an annual get-together at the MSU center.


A mid-Michigan manufacturer’s gift will help Michigan State University’s Broad College of Business become a hub for business transformation, assisting Michigan companies to better compete globally.

A $5 million gift to establish the John and Marnie Demmer Center for Business Transformation will open the door to more opportunities for consulting, advisory and educational services from MSU faculty members and student teams to state business owners.

“We had been using consultants’ help from all over the country to assist us in our business transformation,” Demmer Corp. CEO Bill Demmer says. “As our relationship with the MSU Broad College of Business grew we found that everything we needed was right in our own back yard. We are so pleased to give back and participate in marshaling the tremendous resources of MSU to transform other Michigan businesses.”

Executives will be able to access research on business process improvement with an emphasis on growth strategies, lean manufacturing and supply chain, and quality processes and metrics. Additionally, the Demmer family’s gift will create an endowment to provide funding for faculty members and students to work with companies and for educational grants to smaller companies to enable them to participate in the center’s executive education programs.

Lansing-based manufacturer Demmer Corp. In 2008 joined other area companies in a Broad College business strategic reinvention program. It so impressed Bill Demmer that he wanted to share it—and his own company’s experience—with others.

“We are tremendously grateful to the Demmers for a gift that will bene t not only the Broad College at Michigan State and our students, but other Michigan businesses,” says MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon. “We are excited about the positive impact this center will have on the region and its alignment with our commitment to put knowledge to work to benefit society.”

Demmer Corp. was formed in 1951 by John E. Demmer to design and build tools, dies and special machinery. In the 1990s, the company adopted lean manufacturing and quality principles, positioning it to expand in the next decade as new opportunities arose. Demmer today is a key supplier of assemblies, modules and components for defense, aerospace, transportation and commercial heavy fabrication customers.

THE Demmer family, which includes John Demmer and his late wife Marnie; son Bill Demmer and his wife Linda; son Ed Demmer and his wife Laura; and daughter Marguerite (Peg Demmer) Breuer and her husband Bradford, is associated with numerous MSU initiatives. Gifts from the Demmer family have previously created the John and Marnie Demmer Shooting Sports Education and Training Center and the Demmer Family Hall of History in the Skandalaris Football Center.

“With innovation comes increased competitive pressure on companies,” Says Eli and Edythe L. Broad College Dean Stefanie Lenway.“the Demmer Center for Business Transformation gives Broad College faculty and students an opportunity to help companies learn what they can do to improve their ability to compete in their industry sector.”


By Robert Bao, Editor

Just a couple of years ago, controversy erupted over MSU plans to use a newer Spartan helmet logo. Many Spartans took to the airwaves and social media to cry out against any tampering with the “traditional” helmet logo.

Ironically, the “traditional”Helmet logo that everyone now reveres was of relative recent vintage, unveiled in the late 1970s amid a controversy of its own. At that time many alumni preferred the old unshaven cartoon image known as the “Gruff ” and they considered the helmet logo as too corporate and too politically correct.

How did the helmet logo appear in the  first place?  is is a little known story, and it revolves around Bob Perrin, MSU vice president of university and federal relations from 1970-79. Perrin, now 84, lives in Naples, FL.

Part of my job then was to look a er the university’s image,” recalls Perrin, who worked in the administration of President Clifton R. Wharton, Jr. “To my mind, the worst face we were presenting was that of Sparty.”

Perrin hastens to emphasize he had no problem with “the Spartan” statue. What he did not like was, in his words, “ That dirty, unshaven, lantern-jawed, cretinous caricature wearing the helmet with the brush on top.” Accordingly, in 1976 he launched a contest for a new Sparty image that would be chosen by popular Vote. He even offered a $100 prize for the winning design.

“ the (Gruff ) caricature was not only ugly, it was just one of several Sparty renditions floating around,” explains Bob. “More to the point, it was not even exclusive to MSU.”

But Perrin began to rue his decision a er alumni inundated him With pleas to stop tampering with tradition and to leave “Gruff” Sparty alone. To make matters worse, contest entries did not exactly gush forth.

“I was wondering how to close out the sorry mess,” Bob admits.

At long last, some 10 entries Materialized, and so they became the contest  finalists.  the drawings were printed in the State News along with a ranking ballot.Although there were more than 40,000 students on campus, and several thousand faculty and staff , a mere 737 ballots were cast—of which 606 wanted to retain the old gruff image.

 the winner, with 56 first-place and 46 second-place votes, turned out to be a design that Robert Alexander, MSU professor of art, had hurriedly sketched on the back of an envelope. the winner was announced on June 9, 1976.“He was asked to turn it into a finished drawing, which then was Made available to manufacturers of campus store goods,” recalls Perrin.

Alexander was a member of MSU’s faculty from 1955-87. He taught industrial design, drawing, graphics and photography. He passed away in 1989.

“the lesson I’ve learned from this episode is that vice presidents shouldn’t interfere in such emotional matters,” says Perrin.“Most took the contest in the good humor that was intended, but some accused me of very serious crimes against nature and Spartanhood.”

But the new helmet logo did catch on, eventually. Perrin hit a home run, but no one realized that the ball had gone over the fence until decades later. It’s high time to credit this unsung hero And to absolve him of his crime against Spartanhood.