Eastern Michigan University honors exceptional alumni in annual dinner event May 20

WXYZ-TV reporter and EMU graduate Kim Russell to serve as master of ceremonies

YPSILANTI – A national expert in student affairs. A rapidly rising star in chemistry. An accomplished mover and shaker in Beltway politics. A leading Michigan auto executive. A winner of the nation’s highest military honor. And finally, last but not remotely least: An emeritus professor who remains one of the most active and valued alumni figures on the Eastern Michigan University campus, still contributing in myriad ways.

Such is the lineup of honorees for the 56th Annual Alumni Awards, to be held on Saturday, May 20, 2017 in the EMU Student Center Ballroom. The event will start with cocktail hour at 5 p.m. followed by dinner and presentation of awards at 6 p.m.

Kim Russell

“Eastern Michigan University alumni make amazing things happen,” said Jill Hunsberger, associate vice president for advancement and director of the EMU Alumni Association. “Their accomplishments benefit both society and campus. Their careers show innovative talent, dedication, passion, bravery and desire to affect change. On this special night, we acknowledge their achievements and service.”

WXYZ-TV reporter Kim Russell, a graduate of EMU who studied telecommunications and writing at Eastern, will serve as the night’s master of ceremonies. Before coming to Channel 7, she worked as an anchor and reporter at WILX in Lansing, as well as for several stations in in Flint.

"Eastern Michigan University is an important part of who I am today and the success I have had as a broadcast journalist," said Russell. "I am looking forward to participating in this event, meeting the outstanding and deserving honorees, and perhaps even running into a former professor or two." 

The honorees include:

Outstanding Young Alumnus Award: N.J. Akbar ’07, ’09G  

N.J. Akbar

N.J. Akbar 07, ‘09 After receiving a master’s and bachelor’s at Eastern Michigan, N.J. has gone on to become a leading national authority on student affairs and diversity, his EMU education having laid the groundwork for such success. He earned his MA in educational leadership for higher education student affairs after graduating with a BA in history & language literature and writing for secondary education.

He now serves as an assistant dean, academic diversity success, at Kent State University. In that position, his broad responsibilities include providing leadership and vision for academic diversity retention efforts for all 10 colleges, along with developing and marketing retention and recruitment programs for Kent State. His key accomplishments include devising an academic diversity success service campaign, “I am Success,” that promotes the university’s students as the definition of success, and securing approximately $300,000 in external funding for Kent State’s academic diversity efforts.

Akbar, who grew up in Detroit and was salutatorian at Detroit Central High school, enjoys mentoring young people, especially those from low-income families and those facing academic difficulty, as he can relate to their life experiences. He was instrumental in developing the framework for the Esquire Leadership and Mentoring Program in Ann Arbor, and Alpha Core of Excellence Program in Akron, Ohio.

Outstanding Young Alumnus Award: James P. Grinias ’09  

James Grinias

James Grinias ’09 earned a bachelor’s of science in professional chemistry at Eastern Michigan University, and is now a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Rowan University in Glassboro, NJ.

Grinias’ quick rise in the academic realm as a respected research scientist and outstanding teacher stems from his passion for chemistry, as well as his talent, work ethic and welcoming personality. Following his graduation from Eastern, he earned a doctorate in analytical chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and then served as a postdoctoral research fellow and lab manager at the University of Michigan.

At EMU, he was a Presidential Scholar and received an EMU Student Gold Medallion Goodwill Ambassador Award. He served in student government all four years, and was Sigma Nu Fraternity’s National Man of the Year in 2009, an award that goes to just a single person in the U.S. and Canada.

Along with his research, Grinias has continued to seek out opportunities to teach, and to be involved with education. He has twice returned to Eastern to sit on the EMU Presidential Scholarship Committee, and has guest lectured here multiple times. He says he was drawn to Rowan University because of its similarity to Eastern, and his desire to be actively involved in the research of his students.

Alumna Achievement Award: Stacey N. Chamberlin ’01

Stacey Chamberlin

Stacey Nicole Chamberlin ’01 earned her bachelor of science degree from Eastern Michigan, majoring in political science, and has quickly become a Washington D.C. insider, with key, bipartisan connections in government and a broad understanding of how things work inside the Beltway. She followed her EMU experience by earning a master’s in political management from George Washington University in 2002.

In 2004, she held the position of project manager in the American Conservative Union in Washington D.C. Currently, she is the Vice President of the DCI Group in Washington D.C. The DCI Group provides communications and advocacy services to various clients, including large U.S. corporations, trade associations, non-profit organizations and government organizations, including educational institutions.

Chamberlin continues contributing to EMU, annually participating in professor Jeffrey Bernstein’s week-long travel course to Washington D.C. by providing relevant and interesting speakers for the students. She also remains a vital contact about entry level jobs for students looking to begin a career in Washington.

 Alumna Achievement Award: Lisa Moore ’11

Lisa Moore

Lisa Moore, ’11 earned a bachelor of science degree in interior design in the College of Technology, after which she quickly rose in her newly adopted profession to become one of the key members of her company.

Moore is a highly successful and inspiring career changer. She came to Eastern having already earned a master’s in business administration from the University of Michigan in 1998 and a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from Michigan State University in 1988. She now serves as a senior designer and team leader for dPOP, a leading interior design firm in Detroit.

Prior to working for dPOP, Moore worked at Schaerer Architextural Interiors and Moore Interior Environments. Prior to getting into interior design, she had a distinguished tenure in a variety of roles for Ford Motor Company, including serving as a manufacturing business office manager and a final assembly supervisor.

Moore has maintained her ties to Eastern, hiring a variety of interns and designers at her various positions. While at EMU, she was active in mentoring fellow students, and served as a student representative to the American Society of Interior Designers.

Distinguished Alumnus Award: Charles S. Kettles ’79G 

Charles Kettles

Charles S. Kettles ’79 earned his master’s degree in commercial construction at Eastern Michigan University, where he went on to develop the Aviation Management Program at the College of Technology and taught both disciplines.

Kettles, who distinguished himself in combat operations in Vietnam, was awarded the nation’s highest military honor last summer during a ceremony at the White House. He received the Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama, who noted Kettles’ courage and valor in saving the lives of 40 soldiers and four of his own crew members on May 15, 1967, during fierce fighting near Duc Pho, Vietnam. Kettles, a helicopter pilot, repeatedly flew into a valley to save soldiers who were under heavy fire.

Following high school graduation, he enrolled in Michigan State Normal College (now Eastern Michigan University), where he studied engineering. Two years later, he was drafted to the Army at age 21.

Kettles graduated from the Army Aviation School in 1953 before serving active duty tours in Korea, Japan and Thailand. He returned in 1956 and established a Ford Dealership in Dewitt, Michigan, with his brother, and continued his service with the Army Reserve as a member of the 4th Battalion, 20th Field Artillery.

He answered the call to serve again in 1963, when the United States was engaged in the Vietnam War and needed pilots. His second tour of duty in Vietnam lasted from October 1969, through October 1970.

In 1970, Kettles went to Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas, where he served as an aviation team chief and readiness coordinator supporting the Army Reserve. He remained in San Antonio until his retirement from the Army in 1978.

He later worked for Chrysler Pentastar Aviation until his retirement in 1993.

Distinguished Alumna Award: Donna M. Inch ’78, ’84G


Donna M. Inch ’78, ’84G earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration from Eastern Michigan University, and went on to enjoy a distinguished career as a leading executive with Ford Motor Company. 

She is recently retired from her position as chairman and CEO of the Ford Motor Land Development Corporation (Ford Land), the real estate arm of Ford Motor Company. She was appointed to that position in 2010, and had global responsibility for real estate, engineering and construction, energy supply efficiency. In the last few years, Inch spearheaded the overhaul of Ford’s global real estate holdings, including at 10-year, multi-billion-dollar master plan for corporate headquarters and research campuses and the launch of a Silicon Valley facility for connectivity and advanced driving.

She joined Ford in 1978 as an industrial relations analyst, and then held a series of finance and management positions in customer service, marketing and sales, product development and other operations.

Inch’s active civic life includes serving on the Dean’s Advisory Board for the EMU College of Business. She was appointed chair of the board for the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau in 2014/15, and serves as a trustee on the board of the historic Henry Ford Estate (Fairlane), and on the board of governors for the Dearborn Country Club, where she was elected president in 2015.

Dr. John W. Porter Distinguished Service Award: Bert I. Greene ’55

Bert Greene

Bert I. Greene ’55 earned a bachelor of science from Eastern Michigan University, and went on to a distinguished teaching career at EMU. After that, he became one of the most active and recognizable alumni figures on campus, contributing to the University in myriad ways.

Greene served as a professor teacher education in the College of Education from 1963 to 1997. During that time, he taught courses in research methods and statistics that were necessary for graduate school. He also taught the first course at Eastern on how to use the Internet, and was one of the first professors to develop and offer an online course.

During his tenure, Greene served as acting head of the Department of Teacher Education. He administered a department of 108 faculty members that included all areas of education, with the exception of special education and physical education. He developed and administered a budget, hired faculty and evaluated personnel and programs.

Later, Greene served as president of the Emeritus Faculty at Eastern. He was appointed to a variety of search committees, including the committee involved in the selection of President Susan Martin as Eastern’s 21st president.

His extensive University service includes stints on the Faculty Senate, Faculty Affairs Committee, University Press, the Intercollegiate Athletics Committee and the Admissions Review Board.

Greene has stayed highly active in University affairs, including attending meetings of the EMU Board of Regents. He remains a vital and cherished cheerleader, coach, advisor and financial supporter of the University.

About Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest university in Michigan. It currently serves 22,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Health and Human Services; Technology, and its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website.


May 01, 2017

Written by:
Geoff Larcom

Media Contact:
Geoff Larcom