Monday, October 22, 2007
13th annual Alumni Awards presented
Oakland University alumni, friends, students, faculty and staff gathered on Saturday, Oct. 20 in the Oakland Center Banquet Rooms for the 13th Annual Alumni Awards Banquet. Each year, the awards recognize a handful of OU’s graduates for their professional achievements and service to Oakland, and bestow the title of honorary alumnus/a upon one or more non-OU grads for their contributions to the university.
|OU President Gary Russi and first lady and women's basketball coach Beckie Francis received Honorary Alumni Awards from Greg Kampe. |
“Our five decades of success can be attributed to many people – our leadership, faculty, staff and students. But, the continuous, strong support of our alumni and friends is what sets our university apart. We gather at this banquet each fall to honor you,” said Adrienne Bass, director of Alumni Relations. “You share your priceless free time, talents, generous donations and bequests. You are the reason we can reflect on 50 wonderful years of educating today’s students and tomorrow’s leaders. With your continued support, we know the next 50 years will be just as successful.”
OU Alumni Association president John Ganfield thanked members of the OUAA and recognized OUAA scholarship winners in attendance, noting that the OUAA awards more than 35 scholarship annually totaling more than $85,000 dollars.
OU President Gary Russi said, “Beginning with our founder, Matilda Dodge Wilson, Oakland University has been blessed with visionaries who helped bring the university to life, and many others who have come after them to support the dream. And, over the years, as our graduates step out into the world, many return, to give back to the university. I’m proud to be part of an institution where alumni so readily share their expertise, their resources and their love of Oakland University.”
Golden Grizzlies men’s basketball coach Greg Kampe served as the evening’s master of ceremonies and presented the awards.
|Jazz violinist and new OU artist-in-residence Regina Carter, pictured with John Ganfield, received the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award. |
This year’s Alumni Award winners are:
- Distinguished Alumni Service Award – Michael W. Michalak, CAS ’68, U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam. Michalak has been an important part of the annual Woodcock Legacy Seminar since it began in 1993. This annual event brings together professionals and government officials involved in Chinese trade and international business development. He also assists OU students who study abroad through the Guizhou exchange program.
- Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award – Regina Carter, CAS ’85, internationally renowned jazz violinist. Carter returns to Oakland regularly to inspire students in the Music, Theatre and Dance department. She recently agreed to become MTD’s artist in residence, which means she will spend two weeks each year working with students and faculty, and she will perform an annual concert to benefit music department.
- Odyssey Award – Gary Pilibosian, SECS ’84, CEO and president of Microheat. Microheat’s flagship product, HotShot, is being introduced on GM and Toyota vehicles, and more than 20 original equipment manufacturers world-wide are planning to integrate HotShot into their vehicles. Hotshot removes snow and ice as well as grime from car windshields with the push of a button. Pilibosian also serves on the President’s Campaign Committee and is an adviser to the School of Business Administration.
- Spirit Award – Robert Schostak, BGS ’78, president of real estate development firm Schostak Brothers. He established the Schostak Family Foundation Endowed Fund to support the Judaic Studies program at OU, including program development, faculty and operating costs. Schostak also co-chaired an OU event commemorating the Holocaust, titled “Remembering So We Don’t Forget.” He also participates on the College of Arts and Sciences advisory board, the President’s Campaign Council, and is a past member of the OU Foundation Board.
- Honorary Alumnus/a Award – OU President Gary Russi and women’s basketball coach and OU first lady Beckie Francis. During Russi’s tenure, enrollment has increased 30 percent, more than $200 million in new building construction and renovations have been completed, and the university entered its first comprehensive fundraising campaign. Oakland also earned the prestigious doctoral/research-level Carnegie classification, in part for the quality of the university's instructional programs and research accomplishments, and moved from Division II to Division I athletics competition.
As the head coach of the women’s basketball team, Francis has led her team to three post-season appearances, including two NCAA tournaments, and OU’s first-ever Women’s National Invitational Tournament bid. She was voted the Mid-Con Coach of the Year in 2000 and 2007. Her teams are consistently recognized for their high academic honors, including the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association 2006-07 Top 25 Team Honor Roll for the second straight year.
The last award of the evening, the Pioneer Award, was presented to charter class members Ronald and Beverly Miller on behalf of OU’s entire charter class. Kampe said the award recognized “their dedication and commitment to OU, as well as their true pioneer spirit.”
“In honor of Oakland University’s 50th anniversary, we thought it appropriate to recognize the class that started it all. In 1959, these freshmen took a chance on a small, brand new university in rural Oakland County. And that gamble paid off. Most will tell you how challenging the classes were, but also how they learned and grew from their experience,” Kampe said.
For more information about the OUAA, visit the Alumni Association Web site or call (248) 364-6130.