Distinguished Alumni Service Award
Lynn Gross, SBA '87
Vice President and Senior Estate Officer - JPMorgan
Lynn Gross is an enthusiastic advocate and volunteer for Oakland University. She has served on the OUAA Board of Directors since 1995. She became chair in 2010, serving in that capacity for two years, and recently ended her tenure on the Board by completing her service as the immediate past chair and Chair of the Nominations and By-Laws Committee.
During her service to the OUAA Board, Lynn oversaw many changes with the Alumni Association’s structure and guided it through a series of OU staff personnel changes. During her tenure as Board Chair, Lynn oversaw the transition to a completely non-dues paying membership organization – the first such alumni membership structure in Michigan. She also led the association through a process to develop the current strategic plan, which defines four specific areas in which the OUAA will assist the University with its most important initiatives.
Lynn received her Bachelor of Science in Economics from the School of Business Administration in 1987 and later earned her Juris Doctorate from the Detroit College of Law in Detroit (now the Michigan State University College of Law).
Before joining JPMorgan in January of 2005, Lynn was an attorney who frequently lectured on the topic of estate planning. Her areas of specialization were: estate planning; estate administration; estate, trust and gift taxation; and probate and probate litigation.
Lynn has twenty years of experience in meeting clients’ special fiduciary and banking needs, as well as those of their business or profession, with special concern and consideration.
Lynn is active in the Detroit community. She is a member of the State Bar of Michigan, and the Financial and Estate Planning Council of Metropolitan Detroit.
Married with two teenagers, Lynn enjoys watching her children’s sports events and participating in Parent-Teacher Associations and Athletics Boosters events. Her commitment to Oakland University is exceptional and appreciated. She is a dedicated leader for Oakland University and example of how passion can help achieve great things. Read More
Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award
Stacie Behler, CAS '92
Group Vice President, Public Affairs and Communications - Meijer, Inc.
Stacie Behler is Group Vice President, Public Affairs and Communication for Meijer, Inc. and the Executive Director of the Meijer Foundation in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Stacie oversees the five state Meijer Political Action Committees and manages the company’s political involvement and state and federal policy work as well as all communications functions.
Stacie directs all of Meijer, Inc.’s community and philanthropic work, investing more than six percent of the company’s annual net profit back into the communities throughout the Mid-West. Her work with the Meijer Foundation includes assisting the Trustees in their engagement in arts, education, health and economic development of communities in Michigan.
Stacie Behler joined Meijer as Senior Legal Counsel in 2001, directly handling or managing the company’s state and federal litigation matters. Prior to her work at Meijer, she was an attorney at the Grand Rapids litigation firm of Smith Haughey Rice & Roegge where she was responsible for the defense of corporate and governmental clients in bench and jury trials.
When not immersed in corporate political strategies, Stacie serves on the boards of Heart of West Michigan United Way, Fifth Third Bank Western Michigan, Michigan Chamber of Commerce, Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, Muskegon Museum of Art, Michigan Women’s Foundation, Women of Courage and Achievement Awards Committee, Economic Club of Grand Rapids, Grand Rapids Ballet Company, and Davenport University Foundation.
In 2009 and 2010, Stacie was selected for the Inner Circle, a recognition given by Inforum. In 2012 and again in 2014, she was recognized by the Grand Rapids Business Journal as one of the 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan, and in 2013 she was a top-ten finalist for the Athena Award.
Stacie was appointed Chair of the Michigan Municipal Services Authority by Governor Rick Snyder in March, 2014 after serving on the MMSA’s executive committee by appointment since September, 2012.
A 1992 honors graduate from Oakland University, Sheldon Appleton, distinguished professor of political science emeritus notes, “Within a few weeks after Stacie enrolled in my Political Science class, it was clear that she was an outstanding student. In addition, she was an exceptional person, caring and socially aware.” Stacie later went on to receive her law degree from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana in 1995. Read More
Tobi Voigt, CAS '98 and '04
Chief Curatorial Officer - Detroit Historical Society
Voigt has been distinguishing herself since her undergraduate days at Oakland by earing two Bachelor’s degrees, the first in 1998 in Psychology. After working for several years in retail and human resource management, Tobi found her calling to be a museum curator. She returned to Oakland in 2002 and obtained a second major in history in 2004 and earned her Master’s Degree in History Museum Studies in 2006 from the prestigious Cooperstown Graduate Program in New York.
Tobi spent four years as the Manager of Statewide Programs for the New York State Historical Association in Cooperstown, New York where she managed the organization’s statewide K-12 outreach programs. In 2010, Tobi moved back to Michigan when she was hired as the Director of Education for the Detroit Historical Society. In that position, she developed the Society’s first comprehensive museum education plan, which included new field trip experiences and online resources. In 2011, her online game and curriculum, Building Detroit, won national honors from the American Association for State and Local History and the American Alliance of Museum.
During the Society’s $12 million renovation of the Detroit Historical Society, which reopened in November 2012, Voigt was responsible for the development and implementation of all exhibit multimedia, including videos, touchscreen content databases, and interactive games. She also worked closely with the Senior Curator to write exhibition text for five new permanent exhibitions.
In February 2013, Voigt became the Chief Curatorial Officer at the Detroit Historical Society, where she is responsible for the Society’s mission-related initiatives, including collections, exhibitions, programs and education. She oversees the development and implementation of school and family programs, assists with content development for exhibitions at the Detroit Historical Society and Dossin Great Lakes Museum, and ensures the Society maintains its historical collection of 250,000 artifacts in accordance with national standards and best practices.
Tobi still finds time to give back to OU by participating with “Careers in History”, in which panelists represent different careers open to history majors. “I remember her as an outstanding student in my classes a decade ago,” said Todd Estes, associate professor and history department chair. “I now am privileged to point to her as a exceptional alumna of the History department.” Read More
Barbara Gough, SEHS '92, and Allen Gough
Barbara and Allen Gough have been involved with Oakland University for over twenty years. Barbara returned to college after raising her two children and volunteering in the community. As a non-traditional student, Barbara brought much to the classroom in the Human Resources Development by offering life experiences, insights, and the perspective of someone committed to helping others succeed in life.
After earning her bachelor’s degree from Oakland in 1992, she went on to earn a master’s degree from Wayne State University and later returned to OU to teach Human Resource Development courses as an adjunct instructor.
Barbara’s personal experience fueled her passion to give back to Oakland. Along with her husband Allen, they created the Barbara and Allen Gough Scholarship. With their generosity, Oakland is able to award an annual scholarship to a non-traditional student enrolled in the Human Resource Development program.
"The Goughs are true fans of OU. They have established an endowed scholarship supporting a HRD student for both semesters of an academic year. In addition, they can be found supporting the medical school, cheering on the Grizzlies basketball team, learning at Winter College, or helping Lowry teachers mentor. Barbara set a wonderful example for our alumni to follow. I am thankful to both Barbara and Allen for their generosity and dedication to OU,” said C. Robert Maxfield, Interim Dean SEHS.
Both Barbara and Allen serve on the School of Education and Human Services (SEHS) Resource Development Board and have been awarded Leadership and Volunteer awards for their work in SEHS. The Goughs also volunteer their time with OU’s Run for Autism, OU Cares, hosting dinners to raise funds for the SEHS and the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine, participating on the President’s Campaign Planning Committee, and the Athletic Director Search Committee and serving as a host family for an OU international student.
In addition, Barbara and Allen have attended multiple OU Winter College’s in Florida and have participated in planning alumni events and attending various sports and performing arts events. Read More
Outstanding Young Alumni Award
Michael Medvinsky, CAS '05
Music Teacher - Bloomfield Hills Schools
After receiving a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from Oakland University in 2005, Michael Medvinsky went on to share his love of music by teaching. Currently a K-12 general music teacher in the Bloomfield Hills School District, Michael also serves as a lecturer in music education at Oakland University.
Michael has taught choral music, instrumental music, and world drumming ensemble and is currently teaching a middle school Musician’s Workshop. He uses technology to support learner/musicians in expressing through sound and composing music in styles most familiar to them, and then engages them in exploring the less familiar. He teaches about conceptual and process connections across disciplines that impacts all learning experiences.
“One approach he uses is the integration of technology using a synthesizer, document camera, interactive whiteboard, recording equipment, software applications, web-based applications, iPods, etc. into lessons regularly and seamlessly, not only modeling the possibilities in the world of music, but engaging students in the creation and interpretation of music across genres,” said Kristy Spann, Michael’s former principal at Oakwood Elementary School.
Michael is also supporting classroom teachers in technology integration and establishing their learners’ digital portfolios. He has written for the Michigan Music Educators Journal and Oxford University Press on his approach to cross-disciplinary teaching, bringing popular music into the classroom, and technology integration. He has been an invited presenter for Michigan school districts, countywide in-service programs, and State Music Conferences. Michael’s music room has become an open lab-classroom hosting many school districts’ music departments. He regularly hosts preservice music teachers as observers in his classroom. He writes a professional blog titled Experiencing Life Through Music and keeps an active YouTube channel which opens a window to inquiry-based music education practices aiming to foster independent musicianship among learner/musicians.
Michael is a region representative to the Michigan Music Educators Association (MMEA), a member of the Oakland Intermediate School’s Fine Arts Council. Michael has been named the 2005 OU Department of Music, Theatre, and Dance MaTilDa award recipient for Outstanding Student in Music Education, the 2012 recipient of the Elementary Teacher of the Year, and a 2014 State Teacher of the Year finalist. Read More
Alumni Community Service Award
Jennifer Valoppi, CAS '79
Founder and President, Women of Tomorrow
Multi-NY Emmy® Award-winning television journalist, author and philanthropist, Jennifer Valoppi graduated from Oakland University with a degree in psychology in 1979. While en route to law school, she began a career in television as the weathercaster and science editor for WEYI, the CBS affiliate in Flint, then she moved as an anchor and investigative reporter to West Palm Beach, New York, Los Angeles and ultimately Miami, which she currently calls home.
Jennifer is a veteran news anchor who has hosted numerous local, network, both nationally and internationally syndicated and cable programs, as well as consulted on and appeared in film. From 1994 to 2005 she was the lead anchor at WTVJ-NBC6 in Miami after moving from NBC Network in Los Angeles and WWOR in New York. In addition to two New York Emmy’s, Jennifer has received dozens of awards for her work as an investigative journalist, TV host and philanthropist including being recognized on the floor of the US Congress seven times and being awarded Florida’s Points of Light Award, the highest honor in the state.
After 24 years in television, Jennifer left the business to write her first novel, Certain Cure, an award-winning medical/spiritual thriller and to launch the national expansion of the program she founded and designed, the Women of Tomorrow Mentor & Scholarship Program. Now in it’s 17th year and with a network of highly accomplished professional women, this unique program will mentor 3,500 at-risk girls in 177 public high schools across South Florida, Metro-Detroit, and Philadelphia this year. The expansion, enabled through the support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, will grow in 2015 to include Charlotte, North Carolina. The program has provided more than $4 million dollars in college scholarships to at-risk young women and has attained high school graduation rates in excess of 92%, surpassing the United States national average of 80 percent.
Jennifer’s passion for women’s issues and the inspiration for Women of Tomorrow grew from her days as a Psychology of Women student at Oakland University. “I had the good fortune to meet several ‘Women of Tomorrow’ alumnae,” said Kevin Corcoran, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “Their poise and commitment to college completion was an inspiration and a testament to the network of mentors that Jennifer has built. She truly understands and exemplifies that ‘it takes a village.’ Jennifer serves as a model that one person can make a difference.” Read More
Honorary Alumni Award
Kenneth Hightower, CAS '79
Dean, School of Health Sciences - Oakland University
Dean Kenneth Hightower’s career at Oakland University began in 1974 where he received a National Institutes of Health (NIH) fellowship in the Eye Research Institute. For nearly 25 years, his research focused on pathological aging mechanisms that led to cataract and other visual disabilities.
In 2000, Dr. Kenneth Hightower joined the School of Health Sciences and soon after became the school’s first associate dean, followed by a brief period as interim dean and finally, dean. During his two tenures as dean, he has contributed to the strategic planning process that helped shape the School of Health Sciences and the university vision. His original goal was to help transform the school into one that community leaders and professionals seek-- for solutions, ideas and new developments. In Ken’s words, “I am most proud of our faculty members, staff and the hundreds of graduating students each year who have passion and a dedication to keeping us healthy or healing us when ill or injured. Our faculty members strive to sculpt students as they guide, teach and infuse scientifically-based health principles.”
Today, over 2,000 students call Health Sciences home. One of the major outcomes in the school’s ever growing enrollment has been the recent construction of a transformative building called the Human Health Building, a testament to the State of Michigan regarding the school’s relevance and response to community needs.
Ken was also the founder of the Prevention Research Center that will continue to attract leading, team-based investigators that practice translational research. The Center’s goal is to provide sustainable solutions for public health problems. The unique central core of the Center is developing broad-based teams of scientists and scholars who are able to focus their efforts that link basic scientific discoveries with direct needs of the citizens.
Golf and Managing Director - Oakland University Golf and Learning Center
Bill Rogers joined the Oakland University staff in 1977 as the Golf and Managing Director of Oakland University’s Golf and Learning Center, and ever since, the name of Bill Rogers and the game of golf have been synonymous.
Having served the university since the Katke-Cousins course first opened, Bill implemented many programs for the golf course that have proven to be successful for both the university and the surrounding community. Most recently Bill generated financial support for and oversaw the construction of the 18-hole Rick Smith designed R&S Sharf Golf Course, which opened in August 2000.
Bill is a Past President of the Michigan Section PGA, following 12 years of PGA Board of Director Service and having held all the Michigan PGA Officer positions of Secretary, Vice President and President. Dedicated to his profession, he served six years on the Oldsmobile Scramble Advisory Board in conjunction with the Oldsmobile Division of General Motors.
He has competed in local PGA golf events as well as a brief experience on the PGA Tour from 1981 to 1985. In 1989, the Michigan Section PGA awarded Bill the distinguished honor of Junior Golf Leader for his dedication to teaching more than 1,000 junior golfers through the Oakland University Golf Camp Program. As a former PGA Tour competitor, Oakland’s “First Citizen of Golf”, is widely recognized and appreciated for his tireless devotion to both the game and the University. Bill has instructed countless amateurs from students to company executives who have benefited from both his friendship and his golf instruction.
Bill continues as an active PGA member volunteering for various PGA endeavors, as well as hosting PGA sponsored events at the Oakland University Golf and Learning Center. Read More
The Honors College Group
Setting out to create what would become Oakland University, new MSU-O Chancellor “Woody” Varner and the then MSU President John Hannah sensed a rare opportunity. They sought guidance from eminent scholars, academic administrators, and business and community leaders locally and around the nation.
In 1959, pursuing what news reports were calling “a new university with a new look on learning” and “a university of the future”, Chancellor Varner and President Hannah turned to a group that just a few years earlier did not exist. In November 1956, MSU had formed “the first college of its kind in an American public university”. Called an “honors college”, it would “provide special opportunities for students who show promise of high achievement in all fields”. This Honors College Group - Arden C. Barie, Darwin J. Casler, Phillip T. Eckstrom, Paul H. Woodruff, Duane Chapman and Terry J. Smith - were asked to make recommendations on the curriculum for MSU-O.
Chosen by the nation’s first Honors College Director, MSU professor Dr. Stanley Idzerda, these students represented each of the disciplinary interests of our new university. Recommending “access to faculty”, they also believed such faculty should be chosen with “unusual care”. Student “self-study” opportunities, “small group discussions” and close attention to writing instruction, were favored, as was offering “elective courses”. The group concluded that the Oakland curriculum “reflected good planning and some substantial improvements over most such curricula”. Read More