Eastern Michigan University
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Former CEO of NN Inc. makes influential gift

Published February 24, 2015

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Roderick (Rock) and Kathi Baty

Roderick (Rock) and Kathi Baty

Roderick (Rock) Baty (BBA '76) gained much from his education at Eastern Michigan University—guidance from caring mentors, knowledge from top-notch professors, and an accounting degree that paved the way to a successful career. It's also where he met the love of his life, wife Kathi Baty (BA '75). The couple, of Johnson City, Tenn., have been married 37 years.

Now it's time to give back. Baty, a retired executive, and his wife recently arranged to give a bequest representing a percentage of their estate to support the broad academic programs in Eastern's College of Business. The gift, which will be converted to cash at the time of distribution, is to be used "where it's needed most," says Baty, the retired Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of NN, Inc., a global manufacturer of high quality metal bearing components, industrial rubber and plastic product and precisions metal bearing components.

"When I initially entered the business world, I realized from the start that Eastern's College of Business provided me with a valuable foundation of knowledge and skills to begin building my career," says Baty, who majored in accounting. "I have fond memories of the exceptional teaching I received from many terrific professors. They invested time and attention in me personally and were genuinely interested in my academic career at Eastern. I am extremely grateful to them," he says, adding that the dollar value of the bequest should grow significantly by the time of its distribution in the future.

The gift also speaks to the power of mentorship—an Eastern perk that left a lasting impression on the grateful alumnus. "The single thing I learned at Eastern that helped my career the most was the value of having a mentor. I was extremely fortunate to have the advice and counsel of (former) accounting professor, John Keros, who showed an interest in me personally," says Baty. "Professor Keros encouraged me and advised me to major in accounting. Although I worked in accounting professionally for eight years, it proved to be an excellent choice in terms of a foundation to enter general management later in my career."

The College of Business is blessed with similarly dynamic leaders today, Baty adds. "Although my wife and I were considering Eastern as a logical beneficiary, we didn't finalize our decision until I had the pleasure of meeting (College of Business Dean) Mike Tidwell at a dinner in Johnson City. Mike made a real effort to reach out and get to know us," he says.

Cheryl Kernander, director of development, College of Business, says the bequest will have a substantial impact on the college. "This kind of transformational gift allows the college to provide innovative programs for tomorrow's business leaders," she says. "We're tremendously grateful for the faith Rock and Kathi have placed in the College and their decision to invest in its future."

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473 Gary Owen Building
300 W. Michigan Ave.
Ypsilanti, Michigan 48197

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