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WINTER 2017 · VOLUME 10 · NO. 1


Stories about development, advancement and prosperity at Davenport University

Table of Contents



05 University News News from around the University

10 Faculty See who is changing the world, one student at a time

12 Students Check out what our incredible students are doing

15 Athletics Senior athletes, national champs and more


Global Career Growth from Local Roots A serendipitous relationship between MBA graduate Mohamad Abdulkader Agha and Chancellor Emeritus Donald W. Maine

18 Alumni Catch up with classmates and save the date for alumni events

25 Giving Get to know our donors and why they choose to give to DU


Farmers Insurance Making a Claim on DU Student Success

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Winter 2017, Volume 10, No. 1

DU Review is published by Davenport University. 6191 Kraft Avenue Grand Rapids, Michigan 49512 ©2017 Davenport University Alumni & Development Executive Vice President for Alumni & Development Peg Luy Executive Director of Grant Development Michele Davis Executive Director of Leadership Gifts & Donor Services Louise Kidd


Celebrating DU’s Sesquicentennial This year marked the 150th Anniversary, which culminated with the Founders’ Anniversary Gala

Executive Director of Alumni & Development Jason Madden, MBA ’08 Director of Major Gifts Nick Glaser, MBA Director of Prospect Research & Scholarship Stewardship Sarah Mitchell Assistant Director of Alumni Relations & Events Erik Dane, MBA ’07 Assistant Director of Alumni Communications & Development Sara Mooney, ’09 Assistant Director of Annual Giving Courtney Sorrell Manager of Data Systems & Gift Processing Laura Macka


Taking the Classroom Global DU’s study abroad program challenges students’ comfort zones

Executive Administrative Assistant Mary Nelsen

Marketing & Communications Executive Director of Communications Robin Luymes, APR, MM ’15 Executive Director of Marketing Steve Landrum, MBA ’13 Creative Director Richard Crispo Director of Communications Lyndsie Post, MBA ’11 Marketing Project Manager Nicole La Fave Graphic Designer John Teichman

o n t h e c o v e r DU celebrates 150 years of growth

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From the President



hen many organizations speak about growth, they’re referring to increased sales or, in the case of higher education, larger numbers of students. At Davenport University, growth means much more.

Signs of Growth

110% 96%






Since 2010, when we created Vision 2015—which has since been updated with our Vision 2020 strategic plan—Davenport University has been an institution that has grown in leaps and bounds through quality. We have annually improved upon our persistence and retention rates, which has led to a 110-percent increase in our graduation rate. We have grown in other important outcomes as well, such as our student and graduate satisfaction rates, which are both at all-time highs. We also began surveying employers the past few years and have seen growth in their satisfaction with the preparedness of our graduates to have an immediate impact on their organizations. Since 2010, we’ve added nearly 20 degree programs based on the needs of the marketplace. Another area of growth has been fundraising; we publicly launched our $25 million “Investing in the Vision” Campaign back in 2015, and with a recent $1.5 million matching gift, we are 96 percent of the way to our goal. Our reputation as a military-friendly institution and one that embraces diversity, equity and inclusion continues to grow, with awards from various organizations. Early this year, we also became the second college or university to be recognized at any level by Michigan Performance Excellence, the state’s premier quality award program. In January, we open the new Donald W. Maine College of Business building, another tangible, visible sign of our growth. This new space will not only provide the space our growing College of Business needs to fully realize its potential, it will free up

space within other academic buildings for the continued growth in our College of Technology, College of Health Professions and the College of Arts and Sciences. In the past two years, we also have increased our presence on community college campuses across the state and now reside in University Centers at Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Macomb County Community College, Mott Community College, Northwestern Michigan College, Schoolcraft Community College and Wayne County Community College District. We continue to explore the potential for a new Detroit Campus that would tap into the tremendous potential of that resurgent market, Michigan’s largest. In 2016, we added two more apartment buildings and now have nearly 800 students residing at the W.A. Lettinga Campus, an increase of 60 percent from just a few years ago. The Farmers Insurance Athletic Complex also was expanded to include facilities supporting track and field plus various field sports, including the new football program. In the fall of 2017, Davenport begins competing at the NCAA Division II level as a new member of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC), further increasing Davenport’s reputation of quality in athletic programs and enhancing student life at DU. Growth can be measured in many ways, and as Davenport wraps up its 150th year of continuous operations, we are excited about the myriad ways we continue to mature as one of Michigan’s largest private universities. Thank you for all you do to help this institution continue to grow and thrive as it seeks to help students “Get Where the World is Going!” Richard J. Pappas, Ed. D. President

University News

Davenport Welcomes Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellows The WWVF visit was made possible by funding from the M.E. Davenport Foundation, which established the M.E. Davenport Legacy Endowment Fund at the University in 2015 with a $5.5-million commitment.

a b o v e Anil Singh-Molares


hrough a program at the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC), Davenport welcomed its first Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow, former Microsoft executive Anil Singh-Molares, on October 17–21. A second visiting fellow, Leadership Consultant and Partner at AchieveMission Michael Markovits, will visit in March.

For more than 40 years, the Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellows (WWVF) program has brought prominent artists, diplomats, journalists, business leaders and other nonacademic professionals to campuses across the U.S. for substantive dialogue with students and faculty members. Singh-Molares and Markovits represent the first WWVF visits for DU, presenting a tremendous opportunity for students and faculty.

During his October visit, SinghMorales shared his unique perspectives on global business issues and entrepreneurship. Born in the Netherlands and raised in Europe and the U.S., Singh-Molares is a global citizen and businessperson. From 1991 to 2003, he advanced from managing a Microsoft foreign language team to overseeing all internationalization vendor relations for the global software leader. Winner of the Microsoft Achievement Award, he negotiated all contracts related to internationalization vendors, giving him a deep understanding of global business issues as well as the pros and cons of outsourcing. Singh-Molares now runs his own international services company, Echomundi LLC, and has founded two non-profits, the Preeclampsia Foundation and the Compassionate Action Network (now merged with the Charter for Compassion International). He creates major international events and conferences and is a transformational consultant, helping people and organizations become their best, truest selves.

significantly improve their leadership and talent management. Formerly the Vice President of Business and Technical Leadership at IBM, Markovits was responsible for identifying and developing the company’s global leadership pipeline and placement of business and technical leaders at all levels to support IBM’s growth, transformation and performance. He has written and spoken on topics related to leadership, training and other organizational development issues. Before IBM, Markovits was at General Electric (GE) for 19 years, where he held posts in human resources, organizational change and leadership development, including responsibility for all of GE’s leadership and executive development activities globally. In addition to his corporate roles, Markovits has been actively involved in nonprofit and social change work focused primarily on issues of peace, reconciliation and ending racism. More information about Markovits’ visit to DU will be available at in the new year.

Markovits will visit Davenport March 13–17. His work at AchieveMission helps nonprofit organizations DU Review 5

University News


Panther Prowl 2016 Kicks Off the Academic Year


ach year, the Center for Campus Life hosts Panther Prowl, a four-day program to help new and incoming students transition into college life. Panther Prowl gives students the chance to build positive relationships and make friends while providing trained upperclassmen, called Pack Leaders, the opportunity to develop leadership, team-building and organizational skills, all of which are crucial in the workplace.

The event has grown each year, and 2016 was no exception. More than 420 students attended Panther Prowl, making it the biggest one yet! Nationally recognized speakers presented on topics such as acceptance, forming relationships, developing a positive campus culture, academic and personal success, maintaining mental health and wellness and leadership development.


t o p New students participate in Panther Prowl activities.

Social events included hypnotist Michael C. Anthony, magician and illusionist Craig Karges, a team-building challenge course, games like capture-the-flag and kickball, a bonfire and dance party, and more. “After experiencing Panther Prowl for all four of my years at DU, I can say that it has been my favorite week on campus every single year,� stated three-time Panther Pack Leader and former Prowl participant Trisha Madura.

i n s e t s Athletes and alumni band together to move in incoming freshmen.


a b o v e Pretty cool day for me. Just wrapped up orientation for nursing school and I’m BEYOND excited!!

a b o v e Sports season has started, it’s time to unpack the camera!

Photo and caption courtesy of @mzkellinicole.

Photo and caption courtesy of @tylertriemstra.

a b o v e My baby is all moved in! So proud of you honey! Have a blast and dance your heart out! Love you bunches! Go Panthers! Photo and caption courtesy of @disneymom24.


Students join together for four days of fun and team-building activities at Panther Prowl.

“As a freshman, it was an incredible experience that helped me go from not knowing a single person on campus to meeting some of my best friends today. Since that first year, Panther Prowl has helped me grow as a leader and, more importantly, as a person. I’ve learned that going out of your comfort zone at least once a day is the only way you can grow." Trisha Madura

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University News


above (l to r) Brian Behler ’03, Megan Behler, Jon Novakowski, Frank Novakowski, Shelly Novakowski, Lisa Novakowski, Lara Christenson and Jeremy Dezeeuw

Dedicated Faculty Member Honored with Tyrus R. Wessell Award


rank Novakowski, long-time faculty member and former Associate Dean for the Donald W. Maine College of Business, was honored with the Tyrus R. Wessell Award at this year’s DavenFest, the annual all-employee meeting. Having made notable contributions at Davenport for the last 15 years, Novakowski has served as department coordinator, associate dean and faculty staff member. A true champion for students, Novakowski is known for his sincerity, genuine willingness to help and commitment to accountability.


He was instrumental in the creation and promotion of new programs such as risk management, master of management, digital marketing and entrepreneurship. The Tyrus R. Wessell Award, named for a devoted faculty member and administrator, is the University’s highest recognition. It is bestowed each year on a faculty or staff member who has demonstrated the University’s values through their positive impact on the lives of Davenport students and staff.

Susan Crkovski, Executive Campus Director for Warren, retired this past November, ending a 28-year career at Davenport. She started as Financial Aid Coordinator at the Warren Campus on February 1, 1988 and rose to Director of Financial Aid by 1993. In 1994, she transferred to the Dearborn Campus to serve as Dean of Financial Aid and Placement and was then promoted to Vice President of Campus Operations at Dearborn. Following the merger of Detroit College of Business into Davenport University, she led the Financial Aid Department for DU before accepting her final role at Warren. The 2009 recipient of Davenport’s prestigious Tyrus R. Wessell Award, Susan has served on countless committees within the university and has served her community as a member of the board of directors for Turning Point, Macomb County Chamber of Commerce, Prevail Charter Academy and, currently, Legacy Charter Academy. Susan plans to spend more time with her new granddaughter, Gianna, and travel with her husband, Louie. Having visited China this past spring, she intends for next year’s destination to be Europe.



Going the Extra Mile for Military Students and Employees

he Patriot Award stands apart from other military service awards, because it is the first of four awards given to employers for their support of employees within the Guard and Reserve of our nation’s military. It is one of the few awards that an organization cannot apply for themselves but must be nominated for by service members. Colleen Thoman, the Director of Admissions at Davenport’s Lansing Campus, was honored with the Patriot Award. She was nominated by First Lieutenant and Davenport Military and Veteran Services Admission Representative Ben Larson from the Michigan Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) for her outstanding support of students and employees in the Guard and Reserve.

The ESGR was established by the national Department of Defense in 1972, “to promote cooperation and

understanding between Reserve Component Service members and their civilian employers and to assist in the resolution of conflicts arising from an employee’s military commitment,” and aims to educate employers on military employment laws. “Colleen really exemplifies the values of the ESGR,” stated Larson. “She truly values and honors the sacrifices and commitments military members make on behalf of their country. The Patriot Award distinguishes Davenport as an incredible supporter of not just military students but employees too.” Additionally, an event was held last September to reaffirm Davenport’s commitment to assisting military students and employees with a signing of a Statement of Support to look for and support military employees. The event featured speeches from military students

above Colleen Thoman

Sergeant First Class Jerred Johnson and Vanessa Bessa on how Davenport has assisted them with their studies, and honored Thoman and the university as a whole. Virg Bernero, the mayor of Lansing, also attended the event and praised Davenport for its support of active service members and veterans.

AFFILIATIONS The Michigan Veteran-Friendly School program recognizes academic institutions of higher learning committed to supporting the needs of student veterans and dependents.

The Yellow Ribbon Program provides opportunities for veterans and their dependents to study programs at institutions whose tuition and fees exceed the standard payable rates.

The Grand Rapids Business Journal reported that Davenport University was ranked as the 25th most militaryfriendly schools for online and nontraditional schools.

Davenport University’s chapter of the Student Veterans of America (SVA) has the mission of providing military veterans with the resources, support and advocacy needed to succeed in higher education and following graduation. They work to assist veterans with the transition into student life.

Davenport University was recognized by Military Advanced Education as a Top College for their achievement in military culture, financial aid, flexibility, on-campus support and online support services. Volunteers receive training in communication skills and available community resources to help them assist other service members and veterans in managing military-related challenges.

Got Your 6 is a campaign led by the entertainment industry that is helping to create a new conversation in America, one where veterans and military families are perceived as both leaders and civic assets.

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DR. SHARON FLINN RECEIVES LIFETIME FELLOWSHIP AWARD Occupational Therapy (OT) faculty member Dr. Sharon Flinn was honored with the Lifetime Fellowship Award from the American Society of Hand Therapists (ASHT) on September 16, 2016.


ounded in 1978, ASHT is an organization of hand therapy professionals dedicated to advancing the field of hand and upper extremity therapy through education, advocacy, research and clinical practice. The 17th person to be honored with this recognition, Flinn is a charter member of the organization and deeply involved in its cause.

“Hand therapy is a very focused specialty,” stated Flinn. “I love working with people who experience hand problems, because I help them get back to doing the things that make their life, the things that they love.” A therapist since 1974, Flinn became interested in occupational therapy specifically because of a neighbor woman who needed help. “Cleda was a woman who lived in our town. She was paralyzed on one side and suffering from cancer,” explained Flinn. “It was from her that I learned what occupational therapy is, because I helped her garden, prepare meals, manipulate dishes, everything! We figured out how to do things, together. She taught me so much about working with patients.” Flinn joined Davenport’s OT program in its beginning stages about a year ago at the behest of founding chair Dr. Christy Nelson.

above Dr. Sharon Flinn 10

“Davenport is an incredible place to work,” Flinn exclaimed. “The students here are ready to change the world. They are incredibly bright, compassionate and hardworking. They are the best vehicles we have to improve the quality of healthcare patients receive.”

“One of the things I love about Davenport is our ability to be highly adaptable. Many changes are happening in technology especially, but also in higher education, and DU is willing to flex and grow to best meet students’ needs.”


FACULTY l e f t Denny Bobeldyk

FACULTY SPOTLIGHT: COMMITTED TECHNOLOGY INSTRUCTOR DENNY BOBELDYK At the heart of student success are faculty members willing to go above and beyond to meet the unique needs of Davenport’s diverse student population.


ight years ago, Denny Bobeldyk left his own successful consulting company to become an assistant professor in the College of Technology, because he missed working with students and helping them develop in the ever-changing field of technology.

“Davenport students are incredibly hard-working,” stated Bobeldyk. “I think that’s the type of student we attract— someone who has a strong work ethic and is looking for a larger focus in his/her field of study.” A Cisco-certified Instructor and Internetworking Expert, Bobeldyk develops and teaches courses in the Computer Science program and focuses on biometrics—the measurement and analysis of human physical and behavioral characteristics and the use of these factors for identification and security access. Technology is on the

rise, as is the use of biometric security. A common use of biometric security, for instance, is in the iPhone and its fingerprint authorization feature. Bobeldyk is currently pursuing his doctorate in Michigan State University’s (MSU) highly competitive computer science program and researching the use of soft biometrics* (gender, ethnicity) in conjunction with primary biometrics (fingerprints, eye pigmentation) to increase recognition rates. “Right now, in India, the government is registering everyone and adding their fingerprints, face and iris data into a biometric database,” explained Bobeldyk. “They’re doing this to help cut down the abuse of government programs, such as welfare fraud. By registering the biometrics of each person, someone can’t try to collect twice in a day.”

The work Bobeldyk has completed in MSU’s program, under the training of Dr. Arun Ross, earned him an invitation to present his research at the 15th International Conference of the Biometrics Special Interest Group (BIOSIG) located in Darmstadt, Germany in September 2016. In addition to his love of technology, Bobeldyk is an avid sports enthusiast. He played collegiate-level volleyball and toured for eight years with a semi-pro beach volleyball team. Bobeldyk is happily married with two kids. He credits his success to God, his work ethic, the encouragement and flexibility from his superiors at Davenport and his wife.

*The soft biometrics research is funded by a National Science Foundation Center for Identification Technology and Research grant through Michigan State University.

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DISCOVERING NEW WAYS TO FIGHT MRSA It’s not every day that students get their works published in an international scientific journal.


ansing sophomore nursing students Jessica Marklevitz and Kuana School had their dream become a reality when their research was published in Bioinformation, a scientific journal that publishes original research articles to create a media base for scholarly communication of scientific information in biology and biological knowledge discovery.

During the 2015–16 academic year, Marklevitz and School used computational approaches with various medical and scientific software programs to predict the function of hypothetical proteins in a common strain of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) found in the United States, USA300, to help pharmaceutical companies create novel antibiotics to treat patients affected with the disease. MRSA, once an infection seen mostly


in hospitals after patients underwent surgery, is now more common and infects more people after recent mutations in the DNA of the bacteria due to antibiotic exposure. MRSA is often found in public spaces where humans deposit bodily fluids, such as gyms and restrooms, and although many people carry this bacterium on their body, it does not affect them until mutated. Due to the overuse of antibiotics, MRSA has developed a resistance to the common treatments used against it today, thus making it harder to treat and resulting in more patient deaths from the infection. With the help of Laura Harris, the Principle Faculty Investigator of the Bioinformatics Lab at the Lansing Campus, as well as the resources in that lab, Marklevitz and School were able to test the genetic makeup of USA300, compare the DNA to other

a b o v e Jessica Marklevitz and Kuana School

organisms with similar genetic makeups and study the mutations of these organisms in order to predict where a mutation may occur. By uncovering new protein targets, Marklevitz and School could provide the crucial information to pharmaceutical companies allowing them to develop more effective therapies. Their research, along with their experiences in the bioinformatics lab, introduced Marklevitz and School to a new track of career possibilities in clinical research and helped them gain hands-on, real-world experience that significantly contributed to the scientific community. “This was an incredible educational experience,” stated Marklevitz. “Not only was I able to help people, but I am now an active researcher in the scientific community, and our names are published in a highly regarded journal. All students should participate in research groups. There is so much potential and opportunity to unlock doors and discover new things.”


NATIONAL HONOR SOCIETY FOR FIRST YEAR STUDENTS, ALPHA LAMBDA DELTA, CHARTERED M On Friday, October 14, 2016, an initiation ceremony and charter induction for Alpha Lambda Delta (ALD) was conducted with more than 200 people in attendance at the W.A. Lettinga campus.

r. Anthony Helms from Western Michigan University presented student president Patricia Hollemans with the official charter membership. Hollemans and fellow officers Randi Koogler and Timothy Miller, co-assistants Joe Bishop and Cari Weymouth and lead academic advisor Dr. Jodi Hicks assisted with the induction ceremony. An impressive 82 students were recognized for the high academic achievements that they reached during their first year here at DU. Special honorary memberships were awarded to Dr. Irene Bembenista, Dr. Linda Rinker, Dr. Jodi Hicks, Joe Bishop and Cari Weymouth. Alpha Lambda Delta was founded in 1924 specifically to honor excellent academic achievement by students in their first year of study in higher education. The constitution states its purpose as follows: “ encourage superior academic achievement... to promote intelligent living and a continued high standard of learning and to assist students in recognizing and developing meaningful goals for their roles in society."

a b o v e ( l t o r ) Chris Sanders ’10, ’12, ’14, Megan Stiffler ’09, ’13, Omar Love and Director of First Year Experience Jodi Hicks

GRIT TO GREAT This year’s Common Read book selection Grit to Great was written by Linda Kaplan-Thaler and Robin Koval. It was required reading for all first-year students. On Tuesday, October 18 at the W.A. Lettinga Campus, the offices of First Year Experience and Alumni and Development partnered to have an alumni and student panel discussion based on the book. Alumni Megan Stiffler ’09, ’13, and Chris Sanders ’12, ’14, along with current student Omar Love, shared their grit to great stories and advice with more than 250 students, faculty and staff. “Grit to Great is a special book, because it sheds light on how it takes more than just book smarts to become great,” explained Sanders. Students who attended the event were able to hear relatable Grit stories from fellow Panthers to help inspire them to build and utilize their very own Grit along their path to becoming great. DU Review 13


DAVENPORT AND NAMI TEAM UP TO HOST GRAND RAPIDS’ FIRST NAMI WALK The event could not have been possible without the help of the participants, DU’s Student Life department and the sponsor of the event, Active Minds, led by President Katlyn Theisen. Events like the NAMI Walk help college students affected by mental illness know they are not alone and that they can find a support system at Davenport. Student Brent Holbrook said, “The NAMI Walk impacted me by showing me just how many people were aware of the problem, and it showed me just how many people cared.” a b o v e West Michigan’s first NAMI Walk participants.

Nearly one in five adults experience mental illness each year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to improving the lives of people living with serious mental illness as well as their families.


f the 43.8 million people experiencing mental illness in the United States, 59 percent of adults and 49 percent of children ages 8 to 15 do not seek the necessary mental health services they need as a result of the negative stigma surrounding mental illness.


On September 10, more than 500 people came to Davenport University’s W.A. Lettinga Campus to challenge the negative stigma by participating in Grand Rapids’ first-ever NAMI Walk. Davenport alone registered five teams to participate in the event, raising $2,750. The expansion of NAMI Walks into West Michigan signifies the recent growth that NAMI has experienced due to the increase in conversations on and coverage of mental health nationwide, the growth of education about mental illness and the up tick in support for those with mental illness. Overall, the walk raised more than $58,000, surpassing the goal of $50,000, to support NAMI education and supportive programs offered by their West Michigan affiliates.

By changing the conversation and stigma surrounding mental health, someone can make a difference not only in their own lives but in the lives of those surrounding them in the community. NAMI has announced that Davenport will be the sponsor of next year’s NAMI Walk on September 23, 2017.


FOOTBALL INAUGURAL SEASON A ROUSING SUCCESS Davenport’s football team concluded their inaugural season on Saturday, November 5 and finished with a 6–5 record, which is very impressive for a first-year program.


he first game took place on Saturday, August 27 at Farmers Insurance Athletic Complex against Taylor University. The seasoned Trojans made just enough plays in a 41–28 win over the Panthers, but a message was sent that this team was ready to establish a name for themselves. The first touchdown in program history came on special teams, as Rashaun O’Neal returned a kickoff 86 yards in the first quarter.

“It was such a special moment to score the first touchdown,” said O’Neal. “It was like a movie going in slow motion. I just followed my blockers, who did a great job of opening holes, and the feeling was great.”

The next week proved to be a signature moment as DU picked up their first win against NAIA opponent Kentucky Christian on the road in Grayson, Kentucky. “It was tremendous to go on the road and pick up the first win,” said Lou Esposito after the game. “The players have worked so hard and bought into what we want as coaches for a culture. We had a mindset of getting the job done, and we did that.” In addition to the team’s success on the field, a number of Panthers were recognized for their academic success.

Nate Couturier, Brent Showers and Patrick McMahon have all been named College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-District in College Division District I for this season. The trio of Panthers has been key for the first year program at Davenport University.

“It was such a special moment to score the first touchdown. It was like a movie going in slow motion.” RASHAUN O’NEAL

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above Senior Alyssa Fuentes left Senior Dominez Burnett

SENIOR ATHLETES OF THE YEAR Over the summer, Panther Athletics announced the recipients of the 2015–16 Senior Athletes of the Year, as voted by the head coaches and support staff.


ominez Burnett of the Men’s Basketball team and Alyssa Fuentes of the Women’s Tennis team were the deserving winners.


Burnett, a native of Flint, Michigan, led the Panthers in scoring (24.9), rebounding (7.5), assists (3.0) and steals (2.1), while shooting 54% from the field. Burnett led the Panthers to the regular season and tournament championships in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC), and led the team to the NAIA Division II National Semifinals for the second consecutive year, finishing with a 32–5 record. Burnett was named First Team All-WHAC for the fourth straight year, First Team All-American for the third straight year, NAIA Division II National Player of the Year for the second straight season and was the inaugural winner of the Bevo Francis Award presented by Small College Basketball.

Fuentes, a native of Bridgetown, Barbados, was named Second Team All-American on the court and was also a First Team Academic All-American (CoSIDA). Fuentes and teammate Puck Luttikhuis combined to go 29–5 in doubles this season as the Panthers won the WHAC regular season and tournament championships, while advancing to the second round of the NAIA Tournament. Fuentes went 18–6 in singles this season, including 15–5 in dual matches all at the one spot. She is currently second in school history with 73 singles wins and first with 112 doubles wins.


r i g h t Women’s Lacrosse team poses with their trophy after their win.

NATIONAL CHAMPS! It was a banner year for the Women’s Lacrosse team in 2016 as they won the National Women’s Lacrosse League (NWLL) national championship and followed that with a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) National Invitational Title.

Panthers Earn Sixth All-Sports Trophy


avenport captured its sixth straight Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference (WHAC) All-Sports Trophy during the 2015–16 school year.

a b o v e Rob Harris, commissioner of the WHAC , with Lauren Ferullo, Assistant Athletic Director for Compliance at DU.


unior Jessica Lemcke had a major role in the NWLL title, which Davenport hosted for the first time in late April. Lemcke had the gamewinning goal in overtime as Hanna Bush was credited with an assist on the play. The Panthers had to battle in a thrilling game against Lawrence Tech. Brooke Knoll had an amazing season for the Panthers and was named NAIA National Player of the Year. Knoll scored

The Panthers won conference championships in Men’s and Women’s Basketball, Men’s Soccer, Men’s Lacrosse, Softball and Competitive Cheer and tied for the championship in Women’s Lacrosse.

an incredible 81 goals for the season. The Panthers defeated Georgetown (KY) in the finals of the NAIA Invitational held in Greenville, South Carolina, in early May. Davenport scored eight goals in the first half and played the Tigers even in the second half to come away with a 13–9 win. Lemcke, Bush and Sydney Gray were all named to the All-Tournament Team at the conclusion of the invitational.

Beginning in the 2017–18 academic year, Panther Athletics will compete in the NCAA Division II Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC).

The award will now be called the Fred Smith All-Sports Trophy in honor of the Siena Heights long-time athletic director for his contributions to the league.


The WHAC All-Sports trophy is computed using the highest finish in 12 conference sports (six women’s and six men’s) for each school. Each regularseason sport champion is awarded points based on the number of schools participating in each sport. For a sport with all 12 schools participating, 12 points are awarded for first place, with second receiving 11, etc.

Davenport – 93 Indiana Tech – 90.5 Madonna – 86 Siena Heights – 84 Cornerstone – 80 Northwestern Ohio – 79 Aquinas – 76.5 Lawrence Tech – 66 Concordia – 61 Lourdes – 52 Michigan, Dearborn – 24.5 Marygrove – 18

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l e f t ( l t o r ) President Pappas, Jim VanDam ’12, Tina Pietrangelo ’07, Carlos Sanchez ’07, Michelle Seneca ’02, Monica Goodrich ’98 and Don Maine, Chancellor Emeritus. Mike Ohlman was unable to attend.

DISTINGUISHED ALUMNI AWARD Mike Ohlman, Chief Financial Officer at Berger Chevrolet

HONORING OUTSTANDING ALUMNI More than 100 alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends gathered to honor the accomplishments and service of six esteemed alumni during the 2016 Alumni Awards Ceremony on Friday, September 23 in Grand Rapids.


ollowing welcoming remarks from President Rick Pappas and Executive Director of Alumni and Development, Jason Madden, the chair of the Alumni Association Board of Directors, Keith Klingenberg and Executive Vice President for Alumni and Development Peg Luy invited each of this year’s honorees to the stage to accept their awards and address the University community.

The awardees shared their powerful and heartfelt stories throughout the evening and expressed their gratitude and appreciation for the education they received at Davenport. At the conclusion of the awards presentation, guests mingled as they enjoyed a delicious dinner in the meeting rooms in the Robert W. Sneden Center.


Congratulations to this year’s remarkable alumni honorees: Mike Ohlman, Class of 1988, recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award; Carlos Sanchez, Class of 2007, recipient of the College of Business Alumni Achievement Award; Tina Pietrangelo, Class of 2007, recipient of the Hy Berkowitz Professional Excellence Award; Michelle (Stonebrook) Seneca, Class of 2002, recipient of the College of Technology Alumni Achievement Award; Monica Goodrich, Class of 1998, recipient of the College of Health Alumni Achievement Award; and Jim VanDam, Class of 2012, recipient of the Outstanding Young Alumni Award.

Mike Ohlman combined two of his favorite passions, cars and accounting, with his dream job as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at Berger Chevrolet in Grand Rapids. While attending Davenport, Ohlman worked in the parts department at Berger and used his hands-on accounting experience to earn a spot on the accounting team. As he advanced, he landed the CFO role a little over 18 years ago. Today, Ohlman is responsible for all accounting, finance, administrative and risk management operations at Berger. He is an active volunteer in the community, serving as Club President of the Michigan Fire Juniors Soccer Club. He also spends a lot of time at Davenport watching his son, Lucas, play on the Men’s Soccer team.

DONALD W. MAINE COLLEGE OF BUSINESS ALUMNI ACHIEVEMENT AWARD Carlos Sanchez, Director of the Latino Business and Economic Development Center at Ferris State University Born in Mexico City, Carlos Sanchez earned his international business degree from DU in 2007. He is now the Director of the Latino Business and Economic Development Center at Ferris State University. His work at the Center focuses on developing Latino leaders and entrepreneurs. He has more than ten years of valuable experience in the areas of diversity and inclusion as well as Latino entrepreneurship. His extensive community involvement includes serving on several boards and committees, including as Board


Chair for the Hispanic Center of Western Michigan, as Vice Chair for the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, and as a member of the Downtown Improvement District Board, the Chemical Bank Community Board and a former Davenport Alumni Board member.

HY BERKOWITZ PROFESSIONAL EXCELLENCE AWARD Tina Pietrangelo, Plant Manager at the Haworth Laminated Products Plant As Plant Manager for Haworth’s Laminated Products Plant, Tina Pietrangelo is responsible for leading and managing a staff of more than 300 while ensuring that all safety, quality, delivery, cost and cultural objectives are met on a daily basis. As the first in her family to pursue higher education, she was determined to complete her Bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Management “One Class, One A” at a time. These were the words that motivated her to further her education while she raised a family and worked full-time. Pietrangelo is a Board Member at the Boys and Girls Club in Holland, where she volunteers her time mentoring and making a difference in the lives of local youth.

COLLEGE OF TECHNOLOGY ALUMNI ACHIEVEMENT AWARD Michelle Seneca, Information Technology Director at S2/Tiara Yachts Michelle Seneca graduated in 2002 with her Bachelor’s degree in PC and Network Management. She now serves as Information Technology Director at S2/Tiara Yachts. Seneca fell in love with computers as a teenager, but it wasn’t until she attended DU that she was able

to make her passion her career. She now leads a team of six staff members who manage Tiara Yachts’ hardware, software, data and communications. Her team develops and manages the ERP system and other business software, maintains information security, and assists employees with all IT-related issues for both the Holland and Florida locations. Seneca is an inspiration for women in the technology field, including her niece, Kristen, who works as a web developer at DU.

COLLEGE OF HEALTH ALUMNI ACHIEVEMENT AWARD Monica Goodrich, Director of Nursing at Brittany Manor Living and Rehabilitation Center While Monica Goodrich earned her nursing degree from Davenport University in 1998, she actually started her nursing career at the age of 15. She took a nurse’s aide training class as part of an after-school program and fell in love with the profession. After graduation, she immediately enrolled in college and became a Licensed Practical Nurse. She then continued her pursuit of nursing at DU, where she obtained her registered nurse license in 1998. Since then, Goodrich has held the title of Director of Nursing at Brittany Manor Living and Rehabilitation Center in Midland. She attributes her nursing leadership to the guidance, teaching and training she received at DU.

OUTSTANDING YOUNG ALUMNI AWARD Jim VanDam, Premium Sales Manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning Since graduating from DU with his marketing and sports management degree in 2012, Jim VanDam has achieved his dream of working for a top-tier professional sports franchise. VanDam works in the front office at the NHL Tampa Bay Lightning as a Premium Sales Manager. He is responsible for tailoring corporate ticket packages for businesses in southern Florida to create memorable fan experiences. VanDam’s road to the “major leagues” wasn’t easy, but he credits the practical, hands-on learning experiences he received at DU with helping him land his dream job in the NHL.

You may nominate a graduate at any time at

r i g h t Alumni, friends and family network before the awards.

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A PRINCIPAL’S MESSAGE TO STUDENTS Art Garner grew up near Ottawa Hills in Grand Rapids in the mid-’70s. Money was scarce for his parents, who had divorced when he was young, and he had to help support the family.


espite the challenges, Art Garner retained a unique flair and became well known for dressing in a suit and tie and wearing a pocket protector every day. His determination carried over into his schoolwork, and he excelled.

After high school, Garner attended Davenport College but struggled at first, because he didn’t have money or a support system. Luckily, he met an instructor named Steve Soper. Garner’s ethics class with Soper challenged him to get out of his comfort zone. The instructor would ask the students about their childhoods, how they grew up, and what their neighborhoods were like—spurring conversations about culture, race and socioeconomic issues.

l e f t Art Garner ’89, ’91, ’04


below Art Garner with Chef Jenkins


“If I could meet Instructor Soper today,” Garner smiled slowly, “I would probably cry,” as he recalled his favorite professor who inspired him to go into education.

“Some of the conversations were tough yet eye opening. I almost dropped his class, because I felt picked on for being unlike the other kids.” Garner remembers confronting Soper, asking why he frequently called on him, “I remember him saying to me, ‘Because you have something to say.’” Soper showed Garner and the other students in his class that they each had a unique story and that by speaking up, they could learn from each other. Soper’s own path had shown him that he needed to do more with his life than just get a degree—he wanted to change peoples’ lives. That wisdom shaped Garner’s perspective on life and helped him realize his own passion was in education.

Garner graduated from Davenport in 1989 with his Associate degree in Accounting and in 1991 with his Bachelor’s degree in Accounting, Mathematics and Social Sciences. He started his teaching career at Grand Rapids Public Schools as a math teacher. Then he worked at Davenport for a few years. Next, Garner landed the assistant principal position at Grand Rapids Central High School. Garner earned his MBA from Davenport in Strategic Management in 2004. Garner continued to pursue higher degrees. He earned his Ed.D. in Educational Administration and Supervision. His doctoral studies focused on the ways that professional development can improve professional learning communities, specifically for math teachers. Garner advanced in the Grand Rapids Public School system, serving as a teacher, high school assistant principal, high school principal and middle school principal for almost 12 years.

Now he’s the principal at Muskegon High School and is proud to make a difference in the lives of students and teachers in the Muskegon area. As the “teacher of teachers,” Garner believes the role of principal has changed. It is no longer a managerial model; it is an instructional leader model. “The principalship has influence on the community as a group of learners,” he said. “We are all in this together. We are making education a community focus.” Right now, Muskegon is undergoing change with a positive energy and renewed focus. Garner believes the children his community educates will continue the growth and guide the change in coming years. Garner hopes he can translate his story to students in Muskegon today, adding, “It all comes down to my experience with Instructor Soper­—wanting to quit and overcoming my challenges. My story is about growth.”

DU Review 21


HARDWIRED FOR GROWTH J If you had asked her ten years ago where she would be today, Joanna Udo ’14 probably would have said nursing, just like her mom. While that would also have been an outstanding career choice, a fortuitous flip through a course catalog helped her discover her true passion for networking and security.

oanna Udo grew up in Grand Rapids, where she was homeschooled. As a child, her family traveled the world, frequently visiting Nigeria, where her parents were born.

When it was time to attend college, Udo and her parents walked into the admissions office at Davenport to obtain all the necessary information to enroll in the Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) program. During that visit, she flipped through the DU catalog, looking at all the programs that were offered. “I randomly landed on computer networking,” said Udo. “I remember saying, ‘This looks like fun, sign me up!’” Her mom, a nurse, looked at her and asked, “What is that?!” surprised at the sudden change of fields. Udo loved working with computers and knew enough about them to get by, so she started the program that year and never looked back. She graduated with two Bachelor’s degrees in Computer Networking and Network Security in 2014. Udo landed a job working at Spectrum Health before she graduated. She started as a contractor working on the IT support team, helping staff with their workstations and printers and handling other help desk calls. Less than a year later, Udo was hired full-time on the Medical IT Support Team, where she worked as a client technology technician. She helped troubleshoot medical equipment l e f t Joanna Udo ’14


technologies and their systems. Continuing to achieve, Udo worked on the Information Assurance Team as a specialist, where she monitored enterprise tools to assist in the supervision of multi-technology computing platform-based services, including midrange, mainframe, servers, storage systems, backup systems and data networking. Now she is a systems engineer at Spectrum Health, where she supports system infrastructure needed to facilitate and enhance patient care. “My job is to make sure the direct care staff have the tools to do their jobs efficiently and effectively.” While systems engineer is a broad title, she primarily focuses on voice engineering and providing support for the phone systems throughout the Spectrum Health system. She and her team manage more than 23,000 phones at over 200 locations. “It is fascinating to think about the infrastructure and all of the behind-the-scenes work that is required to keep the systems stable,” Udo added. It is also her job to set up special requests, support Jabber, the instant messenger application used inside Spectrum, and manage new site conversions. At the same time, she does day-to-day maintenance and supports the existing systems. “Securing a job in my field prior to graduation is my biggest accomplishment,” said Udo. “I am passionate about healthcare. Throughout my years at Spectrum, I have come to the realization that everyone in the organization has a great impact on the lives of our patients. Knowing that the work I do helps save lives and allows me to give back to the community is a dream come true.”

l e f t Alli Veneklase ’14, ’16


before I knew it, I was rappelling down the city’s tallest building, looking down on the beautiful view of Grand Rapids. That experience can’t be put into words. I would definitely do it again!”

ALLI VENEKLASE GOES OVER THE EDGE On Saturday, September 24, as thousands of people streamed through downtown Grand Rapids during the opening weekend of ArtPrize, Alli Veneklase ’14, ’16 had one of the best views of all … and then she went Over the Edge.


ver the Edge was the innovative fundraising event for Easterseals Michigan, where fundraisers obtained $85,000 in pledges for the opportunity to rappel down the 32-story Plaza Towers building.

Alli works as a Talent Development Specialist for Amway, where she completed internships while a student at Davenport and has worked since graduating with her Bachelor’s of Business Administration degree with a Strategic Human Resource Management emphasis in 2014. This spring she also completed her MBA with a Strategic Human Resource Management focus. “I love my job, because my role allows me to make an impact within the organization and because I get to work with an awesome team of people. Also, it feels really great to be part of a company committed to helping others.”

Amway Corporation was one of the sponsors and, as an employee of the direct sales giant, Alli seized the opportunity to go Over the Edge. “We are very lucky to have an organization like Easterseals that focuses on supporting those with disabilities, allowing them to live a life just like the rest of us through a variety of resources,” said Veneklase. “I decided to take part in Over the Edge because it was a perfect opportunity to give back while also conquering a fear and doing something pretty cool to draw attention to the cause.” “I won’t lie: it was a slightly terrifying experience but totally worth it,” she said. “The team at the top was awesome in talking me through taking that first step off the building, and

For more information about Easterseals Michigan, visit If you would like to go Over the Edge in 2017, contact Denise Durkee at or visit

DU Review 23


Mark Jurries ’89

A broad network of other Davenport alumni and lifelong access to Career Services are just two benefits all DU alumni enjoy. Both came into play for Mark Jurries, ’89, after he lost his job of 30 years.


urries earned his Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Davenport in 1989. He had previously attended Texas Christian University but did not complete his degree program. He chose to complete his education at Davenport because of the flexibility it offered to him as a working dad. “It was the only game in town where you could go to school at night,” he said. He also appreciated the opportunity to incorporate his accounts payable work into his studies, recalling one project in which he assessed the management style of his manager at work. It was only after he had earned


CAREER SERVICES HELPS ALUM GET A FRESH START an “A” on the assignment that he learned the manager he had somewhat critically assessed was in fact related to the instructor. “He said I had nailed my description of his uncle,” said Jurries.

As a young, growing company, Anna’s House was looking for a mature, experienced payroll manager who would provide balance for their largely millennial-aged staff.

After 30 years working in accounts payable and as payroll manager for a large Grand Rapids company, Jurries suffered a “surprise separation.” Jurries was shocked and unsure of what the future held for him, considering he was in his late 50s and hadn’t explored the job market since the 1980s.

The chain had not advertised the position, instead reaching out to its accounting firm for suggestions. A Davenport alum at the firm contacted Jones in Career Services, and she provided Jurries’ resume, believing he was an ideal candidate.

Fortunately, he remembered that access to Davenport’s Career Services was a lifelong benefit for DU alumni. Within a few weeks, he was sitting down with Shari Jones, Senior Career Services Coordinator. “She was very helpful, not only helping to craft my resume and providing interview tips but also reassuring me. She gave me confidence that my age was not necessarily a negative and my experience was a positive.” Over the next several months, Jurries interviewed for numerous positions and was called back for a few second and third interviews, but no employment offers resulted. When his severance package ended, he took a temporary position to help pay the bills, but that ended after a few months. That’s when he got the surprise call from Anna’s House, a chain of four West Michigan diner-style restaurants specializing in breakfast and lunch.

Jurries was quickly hired and now serves as Finance and Payroll Manager for the company. “The restaurant business is new to me, but I love learning about it. I’m excited about the job, and they’re thrilled about what I’ve been able to bring to the table, streamlining processes and saving money.” Jurries is glad he remembered to reach out to his alma mater and is grateful for the assistance he received. “After months of applying for jobs and going through the interview process a number of times and not getting any offers, suddenly there was a job I didn’t know about or apply for that came to me. Clearly I saw that as a providential thing,” he said.

If you’re a DU alum and seeking a new job—whether or not you’re currently employed—contact Davenport’s Career Services group at to find out how they can help you!


MEET OUR DONORS “I give to Davenport because Davenport gave to me. Davenport believed in me in the early 1980s and made it possible for me to obtain my Associate Degree in Science and Computer Programming. Seven years later, when I wanted to return to Davenport to earn my bachelor’s degree, I was able to thanks to generous DU supporters. I finished my accounting degree in 18 months. Both of those degrees provided me with an awesome future. It also showed my children that education is important. I hope to help someone else in the same way.”


“It is an honor to be part of such a distinguished group of academic and business leaders. Michigan Office Solutions (MOS) has enjoyed a long-lasting relationship with Davenport University. We employ several graduates, including some that have graduated from DU’s MBA programs. We find DU prepares its graduates to quickly make positive contributions that help our organization achieve our mission of being the preferred office technology company in the state of Michigan.”

RALPH SLIDER President of MOS, new Foundation Board Member

Get involved like Regina and Ralph at

DU Review 25

Wilbur Lettinga ’55 seated in front with his son Bill Lettinga ’78 at the first Charter Scholars Reunion


WHERE ARE THEY NOW? Ten years ago, nearly 150 students received the full-tuition W.A. Lettinga Charter Scholarship.


ilbur Lettinga created the bold W.A. Lettinga Charter Scholarship program in tandem with the newly constructed W.A. Lettinga residential campus to attract bright high school students that would become Charter Scholars. These students created traditions, built programs and established a level of excellence—leaving their mark and legacy on the campus. DU Review Magazine caught up with some of the recipients and asked how the scholarship impacted their success after college. Here’s what some of them had to say about their experience.



Senior Web Game Developer at Ludomade in Los Angeles, CA Hometown: Zeeland, MI

RACHEL (NEMMERS) PAY N E ’ 1 0 , M B A ’ 1 2

Senior Human Resources Generalist at Spectrum Health Hometown: Caledonia, MI “After graduating from high school I wasn’t clear on my desired career path. I was fortunate to receive the W.A. Lettinga Charter Scholarship which helped guide my decision to attend Davenport University. I developed a passion for healthcare management after going through some personal life experiences. I grew passionate about human resources while at Davenport and combined the fields. I graduated with a BBA in human resources and continued later to earn my MBA with a healthcare management concentration.”

“The W.A. Lettinga Charter Scholarship helped me see the value in a college education in the tech industry—initially, I wasn’t even planning on college. While I considered my tech skill-set to be strong, I grew in business, public speaking and writing skills. Upon graduation, I was able to more fully pursue my dreams of game development with education and a degree.”


Digital Analytics Manager at X-Rite Pantone Hometown: Grand Rapids, MI “The W.A. Lettinga Charter Scholarship was a huge blessing, because it significantly impacted my college experience and career development. It relieved stress and pressure associated with college financial planning and allowed me more focus on my studies and to enjoy the college experience. Many thanks to the Lettinga family for their generosity towards Davenport students!” 26






Lead Sourcing Manager for Amway Hometown: Monroe, MI “Coming out of college with little to no debt was a competitive advantage I’ll have for a lifetime! I was able to buy a house and start investing for my future as soon as I graduated. I am extremely grateful for the full tuition W.A. Lettinga Charter Scholarship!”



Administrative Secretary for Morning Foods Marketing at Kellogg Company Hometown: Battle Creek, MI

SAMANTHA (MOL) NORMAN, C PA ’ 0 8 , M B A ’ 1 0

Assurance Staff at Plante Moran Hometown: Lowell, MI


“Receiving the W.A. Lettinga Charter Scholarship from Davenport was one of the first moments when my relentless effort in school had been recognized. At Davenport, I learned very valuable life lessons. The number one lesson learned was “no one owes you anything” and that oftentimes in life you must persevere through obstacles irrespective of how or why they exist.”

“My parents were the greatest role models I could have asked for, and receiving this scholarship was not only a gift to me but to them as well. They have always been there to provide me with support. But, being prepared to financially take on the burden of college isn’t something many families are fully ready for. Receiving the Lettinga Charter Scholarship allowed me to play volleyball for pleasure at DU, while staying focused on my academic success. As a result of those accomplishments, I was hired to work in public accounting as soon as I graduated, and I’ve been so blessed to have found a career that I love. The impacts of the scholarship continue today, as I’m now able to fully invest in my future through my retirement versus paying student loans from the past.”



Marketing Manager at Business + Institutional Furniture Manufacturer’s Association Hometown: Caledonia, MI “The W.A. Lettinga Charter Scholarship made my decision about which college I was going to attend pretty easy. Although I ended up at a smaller college than I imagined, I was given big opportunities to get involved on campus as a result. These opportunities allowed me to find my passion for marketing/event planning and have led me to the successful career I have today. I’m extremely grateful to the Lettinga family for their generous gift!”

DU Review 27


Commercial Operations Leader at GE Aviation Digital in Austin, TX Hometown: Grand Rapids, MI



“The W.A. Lettinga Charter Scholarship motivated me to focus on my schoolwork while at DU. I graduated with high honors and felt prepared to join the workforce. The scholarship allowed me the opportunity to study international business management during my study abroad in Europe, which, as a leader of cross-functional teams around the world, has prepared me for my current and future roles at a global business like GE.”

J . T. B A H A D U R I A N ’ 1 0

Experienced Associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Los Angeles, CA Hometown: Grand Rapids, MI “The W.A. Lettinga Charter Scholarship afforded me the opportunity to focus on both studies and athletics throughout my college career. The experience that each professor brought to the classroom added an element of real-world exposure that you don’t find at other universities. Education provided by Davenport even expands beyond classroom learning; my internships obtained in part by networking with instructors helped me to understand and develop my strengths in preparation for my current career in financial consulting.”


Foundation Specialist at Spectrum Health and Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Foundation Hometown: Greenville, MI



“The W.A. Lettinga Charter Scholarship impacted my life in a huge way by allowing me to go to school in Grand Rapids and stay in the community where I wanted to have a career. Receiving a scholarship gave me a sense of how philanthropic the West Michigan community is and has inspired me to work for a nonprofit employer where I can give back.”

N I C H O L A S R . V E N L E T, A W M A ® ’ 1 0

LPL Financial Advisor at Lake Michigan Investment Services Hometown: Grand Rapids, MI

“As a high school senior, I knew I wanted my career to involve the financial markets but did not take much time to reflect on what a full ride would mean for my future. Ten years later, I have a much deeper sense of gratitude as my career path has unfolded. DU equipped me with real-world knowledge and a specialty in financial planning that helped me attain my LPL Financial Advisor position. The scholarship allowed me to take a career risk that many with student debt would not be afforded. I am truly in a career I am passionate about and had fantastic growth in a timeline that would not have been possible without the W.A. Lettinga Charter Scholarship.”


DU Review 28




The KPMG team— Alumni board member Joel Blanchard, Stan Osdras, Heather Paquette and Rick Cornelisse.

Davenport welcomed 242 golfers at the 30th Annual Scholarship Golf Classic, held on Monday, August 22 at Egypt Valley Country Club in Grand Rapids.

Members of this generous group have made planned gifts for Davenport in the form of bequests, life insurance, charitable annuities and other methods of planned giving. In recognition of these future gifts, a Legacy Society Donor Recognition Wall was unveiled. We invite you to visit Davenport to view the wall, located at the north entrance of the Sneden Center.


hank you to each and every sponsor, participant and volunteer who helped raise more than $140,000 this year! We are sincerely grateful to all of our sponsors for their generous contributions, including the continued support of our Title Sponsor, Integrated Architecture, as well as Davenport’s 150th Anniversary Presenting Sponsor, the Wilbur and Sharon Lettinga Family. This year marked Clare VanderLaan’s 30th year as a volunteer at the Scholarship Golf Classic. CG, as she likes to be called, has been an enthusiastic volunteer, selling raffle tickets, hosting beverage stations and doing just about anything else that needs to be done at the golf outing. Her enthusiasm and outgoing personality have made her a favorite with golfers, other volunteers and staff. CG’s love for Davenport and the students has endeared her to all. Davenport is grateful for her continuing commitment to raising money for student scholarships.

Davenport University’s Legacy Society members were guests of the University on Thursday, September 15 at the Robert W. Sneden Center on the W.A. Lettinga Campus.

a b o v e CG VanderLaan speaking with a golfer before tee off.

Proceeds from the Scholarship Golf Classic assist in the growth of Davenport’s general scholarship fund. If you were unable to participate in this year’s outing and would like to support Davenport students, please visit

If you are interested in learning more about Davenport University’s Legacy Society or ways you can support DU students, contact Nick Glaser at 616-233-3418 or

DU Review 29







l e f t Agha with his wife Rim






GLOBAL CAREER GROWN FROM LOCAL ROOTS Chancellor Emeritus Donald W. Maine called it fate. Mohamad Abdulkader Agha ’03 called it meant to be. Their serendipitous relationship is heartwarming. 30

His brother-in-law, who is a doctor in the Grand Rapids area, recommended that he check out Davenport, because he heard that the class sizes were small and the professors used real-life experiences to teach the classes. Agha recalled wondering why he should go to a school in a small city when he could go to school in Los Angeles, New York City or Houston. His brother’s advice was to go to a place where he could have personal attention. Agha remembered his brother-in-law saying, “vDon’t be a small fish in a big pond, be a big fish in a small pond.”


early 6,000 miles from his home in Syria, Mohamad Abdulkader Agha found a new place to call home in Grand Rapids in early 2001. His decision to come to America wasn’t easy. After losing his father at the age of 13 and his mother only nine years later, Agha found himself looking for guidance in his next step. Luckily, he has three older sisters who had his best interests in mind and encouraged him to gain a global perspective on life by pursuing his MBA in the United States.

Agha started classes at Davenport in spring 2001, and in the summer, he completed a graduate program at Georgetown University, then he went back home to be with family. While he was home, the events that shook the world on September 11th occurred. Things were uncertain, and he was unsure if he was going to return to Davenport. “I got a phone call from Davenport,” said Agha. “The call was from my advisor. He said, ‘Congrats, Mohamad! You have been awarded the international students’ scholarship this year. We look forward to your coming back to Davenport.’ And that call made me book my flight to come back.” As his studies progressed, he continued to build relationships on campus. He got an invitation to speak at the international students’ luncheon because of his reputation for academic success and charismatic professionalism.

FEATURE “I got up, I did my speech, and after I was done, I was asked to join a table with the former president of Davenport University, Don Maine. I shook hands with him, and we introduced ourselves to each other. I was sitting there, enjoying being next to the ‘big man on campus,’ yet not really knowing who he was. Then, the former Vice President of Alumni and Development walked up and said, ‘Mohamad, that gentleman paid for your scholarship. Your scholarship is the Maine Family International Student Scholarship!’” From that moment, Agha and Maine clicked. Although there was a difference in age and experience, they became friends.

He led the United Nations Global Compact as a representative and secretary general to its advisory council for five years.

of the Mohammad Bin Rashid Global Initiatives Foundation to improve 130 million lives by 2015 through humanitarian and developmental work.

In 2012, Agha left the Middle East. He took a job at the World Logistics Council as the director of strategic partnerships to lead a global team that coordinated with organizations from 56 countries involving the top technology, finance, insurance and semi-government organizations.

“Here is a person whose country has collapsed,” said Maine. “He built a brand-new global career. There are a lot of people who could not do that. He has mastered all the culture of UAE and risen to the point of being entrusted to serve its global humanitarian initiatives. He left Damascus to work in Geneva and Kuala Lumpur and then made his way back to the Middle East.”

Now, Agha, his wife Rim, and their twin babies live and work in Dubai. He leads the strategy team at the International Humanitarian City, part

b e l o w Agha and Don Maine

Maine recalled, “When I realized international students did not receive financial aid, I wanted to direct my donation to those international students who needed it, kids like Mohamad. It is the humanitarian in me. I enjoy helping young global talents.” As Agha’s career flourished, so did their friendship. “We used to have lunches that lasted two to three hours to discuss global affairs at a Lebanese restaurant in East Grand Rapids. At that point in my life, I didn’t have a father. So guidance was either spontaneous, by observing others, or by Don giving me the time and mentoring me stepby-step.” Agha consulted and updated Maine about every chapter of his life. After earning his MBA from Davenport, Agha worked at Ernst & Young. Next he was recruited by the United Nations. At the age of 30, he was the youngest director hired at the UN to manage the Private Sector Development Program.

“I am thankful for Don Maine, because he filled a void in my life. Yes, his scholarship has made a huge difference in my life, but money could be replaced. What isn’t replaceable is his experience and later on his friendship and love that keeps growing. Thank you, Don Maine!”

What makes Agha’s relationship with Davenport so special is the personal attention he was given by Maine and the professors. He left Davenport with high academic knowledge and the culminating experience of all the individuals who shared their experiences and knowledge with him.


DU Review 31


b e l o w President Pappas, Board Chairman Frank Merlotti, Chancellor Emeritus Don Maine and Trustee Wilbur Lettinga reminisce with staff and faculty.








Celebrating Davenport’s Sesquicentennial





The celebration of Davenport’s 150th anniversary began in January 2016 and has continued throughout the year with a variety of events, culminating with the Founders’ 150th Anniversary Gala on September 29 at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids.







ore than 500 people attended the gala, which featured WZZM-TV13 anchor Juliet Dragos as emcee, entertainment by a cappella group Chapter Six, and comments from Board Chair Frank Merlotti, Chancellor Emeritus Don Maine, Trustee Wilbur Lettinga and President Rick Pappas. The event raised funds for the Founders’ Endowed Scholarship, which will provide scholarship assistance to deserving students for the next 150 years!

Davenport: Educating Across the Centuries When Davenport University’s predecessor school was founded in 1866, Andrew Jackson was president and the Reconstruction Era had begun.

Meet the Book Team


Dr. Thomas Brown

Margaret Moceri

Susan Bakkila

Jennifer Morrison

Beginning his career at Davenport in 1966, Dr. Thomas Brown served in a variety of roles until retiring as university provost in 2011.

Margaret Moceri is the daughter of Robert Sneden and Margaret Davenport Sneden and the granddaughter of M.E. Davenport. A writer who has worked in broadcasting and print media, she is also the author of a collection of short stories, Sky Full of Burdens (Texas Press). She served on the M.E. Davenport Foundation board for 15 years, ten of

Susan Bakkila runs her own design studio, Lucky Lemon, which works with a wide variety of corporate and institutional clients throughout Michigan. She is also a photographer with a background in both communications arts and studio arts. The collaborative relationships involved in creating the book produced a design she describes as “captivating

As Davenport University’s first archivist, Jennifer Morrison was responsible for establishing, organizing and curating a wide collection of materials relating to its institutional history. She also developed and maintains the archive website (davenport. edu/archives), which features digitized yearbooks, online

them as President.

and thorough.”

“I have had the great distinction of serving a number of presidents who had the foresight to pursue accreditation, bachelor’s and master’s degrees, online education and more,” said Brown. “I’m very proud of my time at Davenport and to be part of such an amazing story.”

America consisted of 36 states and Michigan had been one of them for only 30 years. No one had yet talked on a telephone, driven an automobile or even read by the light of an electric lamp. It was in this environment that 16 students entered a single classroom on an upper floor of a downtown Grand Rapids building to learn bookkeeping and other office skills at the Grand Rapids Business College. Exchanging pens and inkwells for tablets and smart phones, 150 years later, students enroll at what is now Davenport University for the same reason as their predecessors: to pursue the best education for fulfilling careers and futures.

Thanks to a grant from the M.E. Davenport Foundation, book authors Margaret (Peggy) Moceri and former provost Thomas Brown, Ph.D. created a 238-page book sharing the history of the school from its humble beginnings to its present day reality as a multicampus university helping students achieve their career aspirations in business, technology, health and urban education.

exhibits and more.


With a foreword by Chancellor Emeritus Donald W. Maine plus hundreds of photos and compelling stories, the book will be cherished by the school’s alumni and students, faculty and staff, and supporters in the community. This invaluable story can be purchased at the Tyrus R. Wessell University Bookstore or online at DU Review DU Review3333


Davenport: Educating Across Three Centuries is available for purchase at the Tyrus R. Wessell University Bookstore or online at


above Staff, faculty, alumni, students and honored guests joined together for a night of remembrance and fun.

150 Thank you to our sponsors! Presenting Sponsor The Wilbur and Sharon Lettinga Family Gold Sponsor Fifth Third Bank

above Todd Pitts, Terry Rostic ’13, Tara Rostic ’13 and Scott Epstein

right Carl Eschels ’39, one of DU’s oldest living alums


Silver Sponsor Jandernoa Foundation Media Sponsor



above Guests move to their seats as the evening begins.


left Dr. Rhae-Ann Booker and Michael Booker

above Dave Musselman and Lyndsie Post ’11


above (l to r) Brett Daily, Candice Churchwell, Morgan Churchwell and Joe Churchwell

right Rebecca Hartel, Daniel Rundhaug and Melanie Rundhaug DU Review 37













Since first building the W.A. Lettinga Campus in 2005, Davenport has steadily expanded the footprint of its main campus. Part of that expansion has come through the generosity of neighboring Farmers Insurance, which maintains its own campus across Kraft Avenue from the W. A. Lettinga Campus.

Baseball field at the Farmers Insurance Athletic Complex

FARMERS INSURANCE: Making a Claim on DU Student Success 38


n 2011, Farmers donated a 17-acre plot of land that would become the first phase of the Farmers Insurance Athletic Complex. This allowed for the development of home fields for the baseball and softball programs as well as eight tennis courts. In 2014, Farmers donated another 45 acres that were converted into the recently completed stadium with its turf field, nine-lane track-and-field complex and athletic support building. While the impressive athletic complex bears the Farmers Insurance name, there are many less-visible examples of the strong relationship between the company and Davenport University.


“We offer an annual scholarship available to students participating in the program, and then provide employment opportunities to graduates. It’s a symbiotic relationship that both Davenport and Farmers truly benefit from.” Steve Boshoven, President of the Foremost Insurance Brand

In 2010, Davenport leadership was advised of the demand for a program to train students for the Risk Management and Insurance field. A team was formed to look into the viability of such a program, and their research revealed a projected 20-percent job growth between 2010 and 2020, particularly in the property and casualty sector. Davenport saw the potential of such a program and sought to consult with industry experts to design one that was strong and marketable. A new program track, designed as a specialty concentration within the Management BBA, was the result of a collaboration between Davenport and an advisory group that included Farmers Insurance and other industry experts and organizations, as well

as the Michigan Insurance Industry Association. In addition, a postbaccalaureate certificate was introduced to provide additional skill development and specialization for students who already hold a bachelor’s-level degree in such areas as finance, marketing or management. Farmers Insurance strengthened its commitment to the program through the creation of a generous annual scholarship for students pursuing the specialization. The 2014–15 scholarship recipient, Erik Schmidt, was hired as an Inside Property Claims Adjuster at Farmers after graduation. Read more about how receiving the scholarship was one of Erik’s biggest breaks on page 41.

“While we are neighbors with Davenport University, Farmers’ relationship is much broader and deeper than that,” offered Steve Boshoven, President of the Foremost Brand. “Many people know that we’ve donated land for the University’s athletic field, but we’ve also supported the development of the University’s Risk Management and Insurance Specialty program, which trains students for one of the many career opportunities in the insurance sector. We offer an annual scholarship available to students participating in the program and then provide employment opportunities to graduates. It’s a symbiotic relationship that both Davenport and Farmers truly benefit from.”

DU Review 39


For Farmers, having a university providing this career-focused education in their backyard is an ideal opportunity for talent acquisition. Davenport University is currently the company’s number one source of college graduate hires in Michigan, with 117 DU alumni hired over the past three years. Once DU graduates begin their careers at Farmers, many continue their education at DU simultaneously. Farmers Insurance and Davenport have partnered to provide Farmers employees with affordable opportunities to advance their career and education. Additionally, many courses taken at the University of Farmers, its inhouse corporate training division, can transfer in as college credits through an articulation agreement with Davenport.


Mark Cusack, retired Head of Learning and Development at Foremost Insurance Company, Independent Agent Operations, and an adjunct faculty member at Davenport, describes the organizations’ synergy in this way: “For both Davenport students and Farmers Insurance employees, it’s about the pursuit of passions in life. Davenport enables its students to explore and capitalize on their individual passions, including great career opportunities in the insurance industry, which offers solid, meaningful work, while Farmers’ work-a-day world is all about helping customers and families protect their assets and passions in life. Davenport and Farmers share a passion for education too. Davenport’s programs and curricula are firmly planted in practicality for a career-focused education. Farmers, through its education arm, the awardwinning University of Farmers, provides

employees with many training and development opportunities.” Farmers continues to support Davenport University through scholarship contributions and event sponsorship, including acting as the title sponsor for this year’s Career Services Etiquette Dinner. Farmers also aims to highlight the variety of careers they offer outside of the insurance agent stereotype. The company, which provides jobs for more than 3,100 people throughout Michigan, has opportunities in the fields of human resources, information technology, marketing and finance, to name a few.


Erik Schmidt ’15

Ryann Wingeier ’14

Guy Davis ’92

Casualty Product Specialist

Recruiting Coordinator-Talent Acquisition

Liability Branch Claims Manager

Tell us how the Farmers Insurance Annual Scholarship made an impact on your success. Receiving the scholarship and the experiences I had because of it were some of my biggest breaks. I was able to network and meet people in the industry to develop mentors before making a move. The exposure to the industry and networking was invaluable. The scholarship was a one-time gift, but they invested even more in me personally and professionally. The focus of the Farmers scholarship is not just on the financial impact—they want to invest in people and their career paths, which I admire. What makes you excited about the future? Farmers Insurance is growing. There are many opportunities and areas for movement within the company. The position I am in right now is where a lot of people get their start in the industry. You get the customer contact and learn the policies and industry. The claims knowledge alone is invaluable for the industry.

When you started at DU, were you already interested in the field of insurance? I started at DU as a transfer student and had my first Farmers internship the summer before my first fall semester at DU. In that sense, I had prior interest in insurance, but I definitely hadn’t considered it before finding and accepting my first Farmers internship. I quickly found out how fascinating insurance can be and how many different opportunities are available when working for a large company. I fell in love with the Farmers culture and appreciate how well they treat their employees. Aside from your college degree, what do you feel you gained from your college experience? There are so many technical and soft skills that I learned through my DU education that I utilize regularly in my career. I also learned how to juggle a work/life balance while working full-time as an intern and then as an employee while still going to school full-time. Having a career while taking a full class load put college in perspective for me and helped me realize the real purpose of college is to serve as a stepping-stone in your career path. This helped me focus and prioritize what personal sacrifices I needed to make in order to accomplish my academic and professional objectives.

In a nutshell, what do you do? I’ve spent my entire career in claims and don’t know how those 20+ years went by so quickly. Claims has given me the opportunity to help people all around our country. The work is extremely challenging, but there is a great sense of accomplishment and service when you help someone begin to rebuild after a life-altering event. Currently, I manage the Farmers Specialty Bodily Injury team. We are an inside operation responsible for all 50 states and all claims, homeowners or landlord, written by Foremost Insurance Company. I work with a great group of people who share my passion to help others and the philosophy that “We will be there when our customers need us.” You’re a DU alum—any family members who have attended as well? How have you seen the University change since you attended? I have a cousin who studied accounting, a nephew who studied business and played rugby and my daughter Halie who’s currently in the nursing program. Davenport has changed in many ways, including campus locations, student makeup, athletics and most importantly, the expanded curriculum. Davenport has embraced change, and that’s exciting because the needs of its students, the community and the businesses tied to its curriculum are always evolving and Davenport is adapting to those needs. DU Review 41

Taking the Classroom Global













Davenport’s study abroad program challenges students to step out of their comfort zone and immerse themselves in a culture unlike their own, and through this, the program helps students learn and appreciate cultures around the world.


ore than 500 students have traveled to 14 countries in the last nine years, either through short-term faculty-led programs or semester-long excursions. Students have visited England, Ireland, France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, The Czech Republic, The Netherlands, Belgium, China, Costa Rica, Kenya, and more, with some even choosing to study and teach in these countries.

The program not only allows students to explore and discover new cultures but also provides them opportunities to learn how business is conducted globally. Dr. Stephen Snyder, Associate Dean for the College of Arts and Sciences and head of the Study Abroad Program, said that by spending half of the time abroad visiting companies and learning about their business practices and the other half learning about and experiencing the culture, students are able to understand what being a global business professional is like as well as experience a culture different from their own.

“I had always assumed that business was conducted the same way around the world, from what I had seen in movies. It wasn’t until I went abroad that I learned how different business practices are around the world,” stated DU senior Marissa Beadle. “In Spain, I learned their way of business is more casual and focused on building relationships. This is because Spain’s economy relies heavily on hospitality and tourism, so the way a visitor is treated is very important. It’s much more relaxed compared to the United States.”

a b o v e The Exploring Global Business study abroad group with faculty members Bob Clarkson and Todd Pitts in Dublin, Ireland at the National Aquatic Centre, an Olympic training facility used by athletes worldwide.

“It wasn’t until I went abroad that I learned how different business practices are around the world.” MARISSA BEADLE DU Senior

DU Review 43


l e f t Faculty member Todd Pitts with the Exploring Global Business Group 2016 in Paris last May.

“Professionally and personally, (studying abroad in China) made me more openminded and conscious of other peoples’ cultures,” reflected Rachel Buckner, Senior Admissions Representative— International and Canadian Partnership at Davenport. “China had such a different way of life and was so opposite to what the media portrayed … I feel like I can now relate to the culture shock international students experience at Davenport.”

The DU Excellence System stresses the importance of global and intercultural competence, and through programs like Study Abroad, students are able to develop these global and intercultural competencies and learn business and cultural practices in nations impacting today’s world. As the program continues to grow, more opportunities will become available for students to engage in cultural interactions abroad and to incorporate faculty and staff exchanges with universities around the world.

Global competency skills are highly sought after in companies that are pursuing potential employees.

“Professionally and personally, (studying abroad in China) made me more open-minded and conscious of other peoples’ cultures.” R AC H E L B U C K N E R Senior Admissions Representative 44

Students have visited


500+ STUDENTS have traveled to




in the last

9 YEARS The first trip took place in 2007, when 29 students traveled all over Europe.

78 4 DU ALUMNI now teach at Ningbo University in China directly due to their experience with the Study Abroad program!


either through short-term faculty-led programs or semester-long excursions.








34 10 14


students visiting

countries globally

The longest international study relationships have been with Ningbo, China and in Amsterdam, Holland with ongoing relationships and continued course offerings for their students and ours.

DU Review 45

DU Class Notes

PROFESSIONAL Corey Anderson, ’13 BBA Sport Management, accepted a position at Forest Hills Northern High School in Grand Rapids working in athletics. Jordan Bandstra, ’11 BBA Marketing, ’14 MBA Strategic Management, is the Athletic Director at Hamilton Public Schools in Hamilton. Kathryn Becker, ’10 AAS, ’14 BS Computer Information Systems, joined Saginaw Valley State University in Saginaw as an Instructional Technology Specialist. Brian Behler, ’03 BBA Management, was selected as a participant in the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce Leadership Grand Rapids program. Jerica Buchanan, ’15 BBA, ’16 MBA Accounting, joined BDO in Grand Rapids as an Accountant. Steven Chiappelli, ’14 BBA Sport Management, joined Amazon in Phoenix, AZ as a Transportation Specialist. Wanda Clark, ’02 BBA Administrative Office Tech, ’06 MBA Business Administration, was promoted to Supervisor of Customer Services at the US Postal Service in Livonia. Chrystal Coleman, ’13 BBA, ’15 MBA Accounting, joined Rehmann in Detroit as a Governmental Auditor.


Nina Botello, ’10 BBA Marketing, was honored with the Navy Federal Credit Union President’s Award for Service Excellence in April 2016 for her leadership abilities and outstanding efforts to drive support for the Tampa Bay military community. Nina was presented with the award by CEO Cutler Dawson in Washington, D.C.

Monique Colizzi, ’91 BBA Business, Communications & Social Science, was honored as the National Invest Insurance Teacher of the Year in Michigan. Jason T. Collett, ’01 MBA Business Administration, was a featured speaker at the John Maxwell Live to Lead event in Charlotte, NC. Chris Collison, ’14 MBA Strategic Management, joined Federal-Mogul Powertrain in Greenville as a Logistics Coordinator.

Meghan Collison, ’12 Medical Case Management, joined Metro Health Hospital in Wyoming as a Family Medicine Physician’s Assistant. Andrew Cranmer, ’15 BS Computer Science, joined the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center, Atlantic in New Orleans, LA as a Computer Scientist. Kait Cummings, ’15 BBA Marketing, is a Digital Marketing Specialist at Davenport University in Grand Rapids. Jessica (Bowen) Dewey,’14 BS Biometric Security, joined Fifth Third Bank in Grand Rapids as a Senior Compliance Analyst. Rory Dill, CPA, ’13 BBA, MBA Accounting, joined EHTC in Grand Rapids as an Accountant. Sara Eschels, ’84 AS Accounting, ’97 BBA Business, ’06 MBA Strategic Management, joined Hylant in Grand Rapids as the Talent Manager.

CLASS NOTES Raymond Foltz, ’78 BS Accounting, retired from the FBI in 2006 and now teaches in the Criminal Justice program at Baker College in Port Huron.

Rick Jensen, ’15 Master of Management, was honored as one of the Grand Rapids Business Journal’s 40 Under Forty.

Courtney Gray, ’16 BBA Marketing, joined Compass Insurance Agency in Grand Rapids as a Marketing Representative.

Dan Langston, ’11 MBA Accounting, joined Lake Michigan College in Benton Harbor as an Adjunct Instructor.

Ross Hinkle, ’12 BBA Accounting Information Management, is the Director of Finance at Belding Area Schools in Belding. Louanna Hovorka, ’05 BAS Accounting, ’08 MBA Accounting & Strategic Management, ’16 PostGraduate Certificate Human Resource Management, is a Fiscal Specialist for the State of Michigan Department of Education in Lansing.

Trevor Manning, ’12 BBA, MBA Accounting, was promoted to a Senior Accountant at Gannett Co. in Indianapolis, IN. Joseph Marino, ’12 BS Medical Case Management, ’15 BA Strategic Management, joined Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids as a Project Manager. Ross Melinn, ’15 BBA Marketing, joined in Grand Haven as a Marketing Specialist.

Craig Jenkins, ’15 MBA Strategic Management, joined Perrigo in Allegan as a Risk Management Analyst, Global Risk Management.

Michelle Patton, ’05 BBA Business, is an Accountant for the City of Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Robert J. Keorkunian, ’90 ABA, ’92 BBA Management, FICF, LUTCF, CLF, of Modern Woodmen of America in Kalamazoo, was elected to a threeyear term on the board of directors for the Society of Financial Service Professionals.

Admir Lugonjic, ’12 BBA International Business, ’15 MBA Strategic Management, joined Baird as a Financial Advisor in Grand Rapids.

Tina Pietrangelo,’07 BBA Management & Human Resources, is a Plant Manager for the LPP Plant at Haworth in Holland. Emily (Howe) Piggott, ’08 MBA Management & Human Resource Management, is an Appeal Review Officer for the State of Michigan in Lansing. Mitchell Reatini, ’11 BBA Marketing, joined Lighthouse Group in Grand Rapids as a Commercial Account Manager. Keith Rinzema, ’13 BBA Finance, ’15 MBA Accounting, is a Staff Accountant at Webb Chemical Service Corp in Muskegon. Terry Rostic, ’13 MBA Strategic Management, joined Rockford Construction in Grand Rapids as a Human Resources Project Manager.

Anedra Morris, ’06 ABA Management, ’09 BBA Human Resource Management, is a Human Resources Manager at Grotenhuis in Grand Rapids.

DU Review 47

DU Class Notes

Devin Steiner, ’15 BBA Sports Management, joined Davenport University in Grand Rapids as an Athletic Communications Coordinator. Wes Trimpe, ’13 BBA Finance, received the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce Young Entrepreneur of the Year EPIC award for his company Sluggers Sports Academy, LLC in Grand Rapids. Rachelle Warren, Ed.D., ’96 ABA Admin Technology Executive, a teacher at Hamtramck Public Schools, earned a Doctorate of Education degree with a specialization in Curriculum & Instruction.

ENGAGEMENTS AND MARRIAGES Keri (McArthur) Brooks, ’10 BBA Marketing, married Michael Brooks on July 9, 2016 in Mount Pleasant.

October 15, 2016 in Grand Rapids. t o p r o w ( l t o r ) Men’s Basketball coach Burt Paddock, along with former players James Humphrey, Mike Betcher ’15, Taylor Langley ’14, Nate Cox ’11, Lonnie Fairfax ’12, Josh VanDuyn ’12, Amanda VanDuyn, Dan Moulten ’08, Javontae Ford ’14, Devin Steiner ’15, James Nelson ’12.

Lisa (Brown) Bruinsma, ’10 BBA, ’14 MBA Human Resource Management & International Business, married David Bruinsma on October 1, 2016.

Nicolette (Hilton) Happie, ’09 ABA Business Administration, married Drew Happie, ’10 BBA Marketing, on October 8, 2016 in Grandville.

Erik Dane, ’07 MBA Strategic Management, married Ashley Box on July 16, 2016 on Mackinac Island.

Amy (Roos) Harrington, ’08 BBA Marketing – Advertising/Promotion, married Sean Harrington on Friday, September 2, 2016 in Novi.

Kadi DeHaan, ’10 BBA Marketing & Sports Management, married Andrew Davis on September 3, 2016 in Allegan. Levi Funk, ’13 Sport Management, married Courtney Diebold on July 16, 2016 in Otsego.


Josh VanDuyn, ’12 BBA Sport Management, married Amanda (Loehle) VanDuyn on

James Nelson, ’12 BBA Marketing, married Lily Scholl on October 1, 2016 in Grand Rapids. Samantha (Mol) Norman, ’10 BBA, MBA Accounting, married Lee Norman on October 29, 2016 in Grand Rapids.

Cat (Howard) Sanders, ’13 AS Medical Assistant, ’14 BS Medical Case Management, married Christopher Sanders, ’10 ABA Business Administration, ’12 BBA Management, ’14 MBA Strategic Management, on July 2, 2016 in Lowell. Brittany Snyder, ’10 BBA International Business, and Jake Thomas are engaged to be married in 2017. Ashley (Timm) Stoepker, ’15 BSN Nursing, married Dan Stoepker, ’15 BSN Nursing, on May 9, 2015 in Middleville.

CLASS NOTES Kylee Young, ’14 AAS Medical Assistant Phlebotomy, married Luis Juarez on September 3, 2016 in Holland.

Amanda (Helmer) Jacobs, ’10 BBA Marketing, ’12 MBA Strategic Management, married Kenny Jacobs on August 13, 2016 in Caledonia. Jenny (VanBemmelen) VanderBoon, ’11 BBA, MBA Accounting, married Jeff VanderBoon on September 3, 2016 in Muskegon. Kyle Walcott, ’09 ABA Business Administration, married Colleen Kleinheksel on August 19, 2016 in Grand Rapids.

Jennifer Mohr, ’00 AAS Nursing, passed away on July 25, 2016.


Andrew Olaniyan, ’02 MBA Management, passed away on June 16, 2016.

Leola Anderson, ’86 AS Accounting, passed away on July 7, 2016.

Carla Pruitt, ’86 Certificate, passed away on July 8, 2016.

Saundra Bos, ’91 AAS Admin Technology Medical, passed away on July 25, 2016.

Sharon VanTilburg, ’88 AS, ’93 BBA Business/Secretarial, passed away on June 28, 2016.

Frank Csapo, ’82 AS Management, passed away on June 29, 2016.

Daniel Villanueva, ’07 BBA Finance, passed away on May 27, 2016.

Robin Dodge, ’92 AS Bus. Mgt./Sales & Marketing, ’96 BBA Management, passed away on June 7, 2016. Carol Keller, ’94 BBA Business Administration, passed away on August 27, 2016. Pang Kue, ’01 BBA Administrative Assistant, passed away on August 15, 2016. Laura Looman, ’96 BBA Business, ’10 MBA Finance, passed away on September 1, 2016.

KEEP IN TOUCH! Share news with your fellow alumni by updating your alumni records. We know exciting things are happening to our graduates around the world, and we want to share! Email us at or visit DUAlumni

DU Review 49


FOLLOWING GRANDPA’S FOOTSTEPS Nearly 65 years later, Roger Luurtsema’s granddaughter Allison Luurtsema is following in his footsteps eager to learn and grow at Davenport.


uurtsema was born to Peter and Lillian Luurtsema in their Grand Rapids home in 1932 and graduated from Ottawa Hills High School. He knew he wanted to go into sales, because he had uncles he admired who were salesmen and because he had “the gift of gab” and a sense of humor. He enrolled at Davenport in 1950 and still recalls the many instructors who left a lasting impression on him. He remembered instructors like Andy Anderson, who tricked a shy boy into overcoming his fear of public speaking in the Dale Carnegie class, or the commercial law instructor who was a lawyer and also an artist and illustrated principles of law with cartoon-style drawings.

“Our class was very close and had a lot of fun and comradery. We were on the second floor of the Fulton and North Division street building. The first floor had retail stores and a restaurant where we often socialized over coffee and donuts,” Luurtsema reflected. He appreciated that his classes were always led by people who were successful in their professional fields.


Luurtsema remembered Robert Sneden as a good teacher who was professional, sophisticated and businesslike and added that, “we were all in awe of Mr. Davenport.” “I am happy with my choice of attending Davenport,” said Luurtsema. “Throughout my 45-year career in sales, the fundamental principles were the thing that carried me through and showed the quality of the education.” Luurtsema earned his diploma for completing his salesmanship course from the Davenport-McLachlan Institute in 1951. He married five years later and moved to Ann Arbor to start his long, successful career. He worked at a few different companies before settling in at EcoLab, where he spent more than 33 years as a salesperson with a territory spanning from Lansing to Detroit. He found success in translating his education and experience into preparing other salespeople. During this time period, Luurtsema and his wife, Wilma, started a family. They have five children, fifteen grandchildren, and seventeen great

grandchildren, with more on the way. One of his granddaughters, Allison Luurtsema, started at DU in the fall of 2016. A soccer player like her father, Allison “ghas won all the awards you can win, including the top female athlete of her high school,” said Luurtsema, a proud grandfather. When it came time to look for colleges, Allison knew she wanted to play soccer and pursue nursing. One of her coaches recommended Davenport. As her family researched options, Luurtsema showed her a promotional piece with his photo on it from his days at Davenport. His experience sparked Allison’s interest. “I think it is a great connection to have with my grandpa,” she said. “Similar to my connection with my dad and soccer, I am able to follow in my grandpa’s footsteps at Davenport, building a family legacy.”


Do you have a Davenport legacy story? Davenport University legacy families are families who have a multi-generational connection to the University. The University identifies legacy students as those who have had a family member or members graduate from DU. Submit your legacy story to

Allison’s first year as a nursing student at the W.A. Lettinga Campus is off to a great start. Soon, she will have stories of her own about teachers, student life and classwork to share with her family.

“I chose Davenport because I wanted instruction that was practical and directly applicable to my career.”


Excerpt from admissions flyer in 1951 DU Review 51

6191 Kraft Avenue Grand Rapids, Michigan 49512

Save the Date EXCELLENCE IN BUSINESS DINNER GALA Peter C. Cook Award Honoree Dan DeVos, Chairman and CEO of DP Fox Ventures Keynote Speaker to be Announced Soon Friday, April 28, 2017 DeVos Place in Grand Rapids

DU Review - Winter 2017  

Stories about development, advancement and prosperity at Davenport University.

DU Review - Winter 2017  

Stories about development, advancement and prosperity at Davenport University.