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Past Recipients

2013 Alumni Award Recipients

Alumni Service Award

Mr. Gregory Francis Hauser J.D.

Greg Hauser grew up in Rochester, New York. He enrolled at Michigan State University in 1972 and earned both a BS and MS in Zoology in five years. He went on to earn his JD degree in 1981 from the New York University School of Law in New York City, where he has been practicing law and living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. He uses his minor in German routinely and specializes in representing companies from German speaking countries in American courts and arbitration proceedings. He has published more than a dozen articles on legal issues ranging from product liability to constitutional law, is a regular lecturer on litigation related topics and has been named a 'Super Lawyer' by Thomson Reuters' Super Lawyers Magazine. While at MSU he was an officer in both his Delta Chi Fraternity chapter and the Interfraternity Council, and went on to be an involved volunteer as a fraternity alumnus, including serving as the president both of the Delta Chi International Fraternity and of the North American Interfraternity Conference. He has received awards for interfraternal service from several national fraternities and the Fraternity Executives Association. Hauser started attending MSU Alumni Club activities in New York City while in law school, and joined the club's board of directors in 1999. At the end of that year, he was elected the club president, a post he has held ever since with the exception of one year when he served as the president of the Michigan State University International Alumni Advisory Board after serving several years as a board member.

Mr. George Darryl Johnson

When George Johnson arrived on campus as a freshman at Michigan State University, Coach Jud Heathcote gave him a chance to be a student manager with the men's basketball program. Upon graduating with a BS in Employee Relations, he has worked as a human resources professional for more than 25 years at General Motors Company, Steelcase Inc., The Dow Chemical Company, Ford Motor Company and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Johnson credits Heathcote's dedication, hard work and high expectations for helping make him the person he is today. Since his time at Michigan State, Johnson has worked diligently to give others the same chance to grow. Along with his wife, Maria, Johnson endowed an MSU scholarship for current men's basketball student managers. Inspired by his passion, coaches and former managers have contributed to this endowment, creating two additional scholarships. Throughout his career, Johnson has also given countless hours leading workshops on resume writing and job interview preparation to former and current student athletes. Over the last 25 years, Johnson has served many organizations with his time and talents, including the MSU International Alumni Advisory Board, the Thurgood Marshall Foundation, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, the United States Negro College Fund, Junior Achievement of Michigan and the Steve Smith Scholarship Fund. Throughout his extensive service and dedication, Johnson has had one constant goal in mind ' to help improve opportunities for others.

Mr. Roger L Tremblay

Roger Tremblay was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, but moved to Detroit, Michigan when he was less than a year old. He attended Brother Rice High School in Birmingham, Michigan before going to Michigan State University where he graduated with BA and MA degrees in Advertising. Tremblay spent more than 35 years in the media industry working in sales management and general management for publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Southern Living, Texas Monthly, Chicago Magazine and the Media Networks division of Time, Inc. With partner, Joe Kelly, he formed Kelly/Tremblay & Company, which became the largest single office independent representative firm in the United States. He joined Allen Austin Global Executive Search in May 2008, establishing a successful practice in marketing communications, advertising and media. He was named senior partner in December 2010. In 2013, he formed PointClear Search with partner, David Dietze, formerly of Google and AOL. Tremblay has served on the Executive Board of Directors of the Texas Travel Industry Association, the board of the Dallas chapter of the American Advertising Federation, the board of the Dallas/Ft. Worth chapter of the MSU Alumni Association and is a past president of the Dream Fund, a southwest-based charity that serves the advertising and media communities. He is also currently a member of the MSU College of Communication Arts & Sciences Alumni Board.

Distinguished Alumni Award

Ms. Theda Patricia Assiff-MacGriff

After choosing an education over a job offer from Hollywood as an assistant choreographer, Theda Assiff-MacGriff graduated from Michigan State College in 1949. Since graduating, Assiff-MacGriff has lived her life working tirelessly to share her special talents and love for art. At a time when women rarely owned businesses, Assiff-MacGriff founded the Assiff Studio of Dance in 1950. She successfully taught all forms of dance for 55 years and has trained thousands of young people to appreciate and love the arts. Her former students have landed on Broadway and at national and international dance companies, and some have decided to carry on her tradition as a teacher by starting their own studios. Throughout her professional career, she has donated her time as a choreographer to many theaters and schools. She assisted with two musicals per year for nearly 30 years as a volunteer, and still teaches ballet at The Studio Performing Arts Center. Assiff-MacGriff has held memberships in many professional organizations including a life membership at the American Society of Teachers of Dancing, the oldest organization of dance teachers in the United States, and once served on its Board of Directors. She has received many awards for lifetime achievement, including the East Lansing Crystal Award for service to the city and the Michigan State University College of Communication Arts and Sciences Crystal Apple Award for accomplishment in her career. Modeling the Spartan values of hard work, dedication and altruism, her warmth, humor and love of her students make her a popular and productive pillar of the community.

Dr. Mark Evans Fleming D.O.

Mark E. Fleming, DO, is a career United States Navy officer and surgeonscientist currently assigned to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Walter Reed is the flagship of military medical institutions and for the past decade has treated the majority of soldiers injured in Iraq and Afghanistan. Fleming received his BS in Physics and Computer Science, with honors, from Alabama A&M University and subsequently received a commission through the Navy's Aviation Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Florida. Following flight training, Ensign Fleming received his 'Wings of Gold' and was assigned to Patrol Squadron Four (VP-4) in Barbers Point, Hawaii, completing deployments to the Arabian Gulf in support of Operation Desert Storm. After his first tour, Commander Fleming attended Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine through the Armed Forces Health Professional Scholarship Program earning his DO degree. He completed an internship in general surgery at the Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Virginia and reported for postgraduate training in aviation medicine at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida. After completing the Navy's flight surgeon syllabus and earning his second 'Wings of Gold,' Fleming served as a flight surgeon at Naval Air Station Kingsville, Texas. He eventually completed an orthopedic surgery residency at a Michigan State University affiliated program, Mount Clemens Regional Medical Center, and a fellowship in orthopedic traumatology at the University of Minnesota's Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis and Regions Hospital in Saint Paul. Following fellowship training, Fleming reported to Walter Reed where his professional passion remains the compassionate care of wounded warriors and the advancement of research in casualty care. He is currently an assistant professor of surgery at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.

Dr. George J Gogue Ph.D.

Dr. Jay Gogue has served as the 18th president of Auburn University since July 16, 2007. Prior to becoming president of Auburn, Gogue received his BS and MS from Auburn and a PhD in horticulture from Michigan State University. During his tenure as president, the academic strength of Auburn's student population has increased, a new research center has been established in Huntsville, Alabama, a common book program that generates a shared academic experience has been instituted and outreach partnerships with underserved schools in surrounding communities have been established. His leadership during a period of sharp reductions in state support for the university budget has protected Auburn's academic integrity and prevented elimination of academic programs. Before returning to Auburn, President Gogue served as president of the University of Houston and chancellor of the University of Houston system. Prior to that, he was the president of New Mexico State University and provost of Utah State University. He started his higher education administration career in 1986 at Clemson University as vice president for research and vice president/vice provost for agriculture and natural resources.

Mr. Arthur Wright Hills

Arthur Hills earned a BS in Agriculture from Michigan State College in 1953. After marrying and serving in the United States Army, he launched a landscape contracting business in Toledo, Ohio. Since the northwest Ohio winters prevented year-round income in the landscaping business, Hills searched for another avenue to help feed his five children. Hoping that he could build on his success as a top golfer at Michigan State, Hills placed a Yellow Pages listing under 'Golf Course Architect.' His hope was to design golf courses in the winter and plant trees in the summer. Three months later, Hills landed his first golf course design commission on a nine-hole project in Bryan, a small town an hour west of Toledo. Subsequently, Hills founded Hills & Forrest International Golf Course Architects. From these humble beginnings, a fortuitous string of beneficial relationships led to a bountiful 45-year career in which Hills and his firm designed more than 200 new courses on four continents. An additional 150 renovation projects, including prestigious assignments at Oakland Hills, Oakmont and Inverness, round out his resume. He has even revamped Michigan State's Forest Akers Golf Courses en route to being elected to the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame.

Mr. Alan Jay Kaufman

Proud Spartan Alan Jay Kaufman credits the Michigan State University College of Business as a significant influence in shaping his passion for entrepreneurship and commitment to continuing education and professional development. Today, Kaufman is chairman, president and chief executive officer of the H.W. Kaufman Financial Group, a multinational specialty insurance organization with more than 1,200 professionals and 45 offices located across the U.S., Canada and in London. In addition, he is the founding senior partner of the metro Detroit-based law firm of Kaufman, Payton & Chapa, and has been rated as a Michigan and national Super Lawyer. The Kaufman Financial Group is internationally known for its insurance brokerage and underwriting expertise. The organization's success is reflected in Kaufman's recent recognition by Ernst & Young as 'Entrepreneur of the Year' and as one of the Top 25 Living Legends of Insurance by American Agent & Broker magazine. After graduating from Michigan State University, Kaufman received his JD from the University of Notre Dame Law School and studied international law at the London School of Economics. Kaufman and his wife, Sue, are active philanthropists, sharing their passion for education through endowments to Michigan State University and other academic institutions. He also dedicates considerable time and resources to a variety of civic, community and business organizations. His active board memberships include the Business Leaders for Michigan, the Detroit Economic Club, the Detroit Institute of Arts Friends of Modern and Contemporary Art, Hillel Day School and the Boy Scouts of America Great Lakes Council.

Philanthropist Award

Mr. Edward Jay Minskoff

Since graduating from Michigan State University with a BA in Economics, Edward J. Minskoff has dedicated his life and his work to giving back and helping others. Minskoff's philanthropy at MSU alone has had an enormous impact on the campus and the community. In 2000, Minskoff and his wife, Julie, committed $400,000 to fund a lab in the new Biomedical & Physical Sciences Building on campus. The gift has allowed laboratory scientists to find innovative ways to investigate how the human body's immune system responds to infections and diseases, resulting in a new understanding of the dynamic between the immune system and gene transfer-based technologies. This research has lead to the realization that vaccines may impact the course of infections and diseases, including HIV/AIDS, malaria and colon cancer. Ongoing work will impact the lives of infants and toddlers diagnosed with Pompe disease, a rare genetic disorder, and enzyme deficiency. The Minskoffs also provided financial support that helped build the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum. During the gala event on the eve of the Broad Art Museum opening, they announced an additional $1 million dollar commitment, on top of the $2 million they had previously committed. Significant collectors in their own right, they also donated two major works of art to MSU for the permanent collection of the Broad. Beyond his financial impact, Minskoff's skills and expertise in real estate development proved invaluable to the entire process. He passionately drove the project through contract negotiations and provided guidance to the architectural design and engineering staff. As a life-long friend and alumnus of MSU, Minskoff's passion for giving back has been apparent throughout the community and beyond.

Young Alumni Award

Ms. Lauren Kendall Aitch

Following in her father's footsteps, Lauren Aitch began playing basketball at Michigan State University in 2005 and continued to play until 2010 when she graduated with a BA in Advertising and Design. Upon receiving her MA from MSU in Public Relations, she decided to keep her love for basketball alive and moved on to play professionally for a year in Copenhagen, Denmark. Through inspiration from God and her time in a European fashion capital, she began designing her first line of clothing. Her sample collection was produced at a local pattern and sample making company in Copenhagen. Lady Aitch Copenhagen made its runway debut at the first annual Aitch Foundation Hidden Key Fashion Show, held at Spartan Stadium. The event, presented by The Aitch Foundation, which was founded by Lauren Aitch, generates funding for research into early detection devices for all forms of cancer. Most recently, The Aitch Foundation has partnered with Michigan State to begin a $15,000 match program for creation of a $30,000 grant to fund an Aitch Fellow (graduate student) at MSU whose work will expand hidden cancer detection research or research in a related field. Today, Aitch runs The Aitch Foundation as well as Lady Aitch Designs and Our Own Products, both Lansing-based businesses.

Ms. Tania Chopra

Born and raised in India, Tania Chopra is the vice president of Efficiency Management Group at Credit Suisse Securities in New York. She leads the America's Professional Services team and is responsible for managing a spend of over $1 billion dollars combined in the Consulting and Outsourcing category. Formerly, Chopra has served as the strategic sourcing lead and has managed various supplier diversity initiatives for Fortune 500 companies such as SunTrust Banks, Bank of America, Kraft Foods and Kimberly Clark. During her time at Michigan State University, Chopra was passionate about giving back to the community. She was elected as the president of the Multicultural Business Students organization at the Eli Broad School of Business, choreographed cultural activities for the Coalition of Indian Undergraduate Students and founded the first ever Bhangra team on campus. Chopra was elected to the Board of Directors as the vice president of community relations and cultural affairs for the National Association of Asian American Professionals, a non-profit organization that promotes leadership development of Asian Americans in the U.S. For more than a decade, she has actively volunteered with Hands on Atlanta, Habitat for Humanity, and has served as team leader for United Sikhs NGO, providing food and sanitary needs for women and children during disaster relief efforts. She continues to dedicate her time to many educational organizations such as ASHA for education, RAKSHA and Child Rights and You, and is actively volunteering for NYC Cares and the New York Food Bank. Chopra is looking forward to carrying on the MSU legacy by continuing her leadership efforts and giving back to the community.

Mr. Ryan Patrick Sullivan

Ryan Sullivan graduated from MSU in 2006 as a member of both the Honors College and the Broad College of Business, with a major in Finance and an Actuarial Science specialization. Upon graduation, Sullivan built his financial and business acumen as an analyst in the Financial Sponsors Group at Bank of America in New York City. He then moved to Vestar Capital Partners, a New York-based private equity firm with more than $7 billion of capital under management. At Vestar, Sullivan evaluated new investment opportunities and worked closely with portfolio company management teams on strategic initiatives, acquisitions and capital structure alternatives. In 2010, he brought the skills he gained back to Michigan with the express purpose of helping to renew the city of Detroit. As business development director for Rock Ventures, Sullivan has played a significant role in structuring acquisitions financing to secure 15 major buildings in downtown Detroit. Additionally, he serves on the advisory board of D:Hive, a non-profit launched in 2012 as a resource hub for people wishing to live, work, engage or start a business in Detroit. Sullivan is also credited with developing the concept for the 'Opportunity Made in Detroit' campaign that first aired during the 2012 World Series. Outside the office, Sullivan is a committed Detroiter. He is a proud resident of the city and lives there with his wife, Callie, and their two sons. Sullivan fundamentally believes that we each must be the change we wish to see in the world and continues to live by that motto daily.

Mr. Benjamin James Williams

Ben Williams, a 2007 Michigan State University graduate of the College of Music, is helping to advance the legacy of jazz through the reflection of his own unique sound and flavor in hip hop, gospel and R&B. Williams is a highly acclaimed international bassist, bandleader, performer, music educator and writer who has performed with the likes of Herbie Hancock, Wynton Marsalis, George Benson, Terrence Blanchard and many others. Williams became a Grammy Award Winner with the Pat Metheny Unity Band for Best Jazz Instrumental Album in 2012. Recently, he received the 2013 DownBeat Magazine Critics Poll Rising Star Award for Bass. Williams first became a 'rising star' when he won the 2009 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition that landed him a record deal with Concord Records. He recorded and released his first album, 'State of Art,' in 2011 with his own band, Sound Effect. The album received an impressive 4.5 star review in DownBeat Magazine and reached number one on the iTunes chart and the national Billboard. He was named the 2011 iTunes Breakthrough Artist of the Year in the category of jazz. Williams was born and raised in Washington, D.C., where he received a public school education at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts. He received his BA in Music Education at MSU while studying under the direction of professors Rodney Whitaker and Jack Budrow. Immediately following graduation, he moved to New York City and attended The Julliard School where he received his MA in Jazz Studies. He still lives in New York City.