Eastern Michigan University

John W. Porter

John Porter
John W. Porter
Public Guest Book • In Memoriam

John W. Porter, who led Eastern Michigan University through a remarkable period of advancement, growth and stability, died on June 27, 2012. He was 80. Porter was president of EMU from 1979 to 1989 and left a legacy that is still felt on campus today.

EMU will celebrate his life at a memorial service at 3 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 7, 2012, in the Student Center Ballroom.

Please share a memory of Dr. Porter and his time at EMU.




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Jill Schubiner Monday, December 10, 2012 10:19 am

I was a student at EMU during Dr. Porter's presidency. Then we became re-acquainted when I started working at Detroit Public TV, where he was a Board Member. We developed a close relationship that grew over nearly 20 years. Simply put, he changed my life and genuinely cared about my daughter and me. A day doesn't go by that I don't miss him. I cherish a file full of cards and letters from him. What a special human being.


La'Tasha K. Mines Friday, November 23, 2012 8:51 am

Most of my undergraduate and graduate career was spent in the Porter Building on campus. I really enjoyed being in that building; it always made me feel like I was one step closer to my goals in education. Thank you for all you did for the College of Education!

Rest in Peace Mr. Porter and know that you truly left a legacy at EMU!

Sincerely,

Tasha Mines
C/O 2007-Elementary Education
C/O 2009- Master's Degree in K-12 Administration


Maurice Fowler  Wednesday, November 21, 2012 7:45 pm


Dr. Porter and I grew up as best friends in Fort Wayne, Indiana... He lived in a different part of Fort Wayne than I did, however I spent most of the summers with my Grandmother who lived near Dr Porter, then just Wilson Porter. As adolescents John and I liked to dress alike, short pants, colorful tee shits, and sandals. I knew his family well, his Father and Mother, his two brothers, James and Houston, and his cousins. At the Rock Hill park playground when we were very young we played in the sandbox. As we grew older we played on the Rock Hill park playground softball team in competition with other city playground softball teams. John pitched and I played first base. John went to Washington Junior High School and I went to Harmer Junior High School. We both participated in our schools athletic programs. John and I both attended Fort Wayne Central High School. At Central we were members of the football and basketball teams. In 1949 John and I enrolled at Albion College, John as a freshman and me as a sophomore. We were roommates, and teammates on the Albion football and basketball teams. John was better than I in both sports. Our basketball team was inducted into the Albion College Athletic Hall of Fame in 2002. I graduated in 1952 and was immediately drafted into the army. John graduated in 1953 and began his outstanding career as an educator. We rarely saw each other but did keep in touch. On one of my visits with John at EMU John took me on a tour of the newly completed Student Center. He explained his motivation for pushing this project forward. He explained how it was necessary to improve the relationship of the students, many of whom would leave the campus on weekends, to the University. He told me that his hope was that the Student Center would encourage a feeling that EMU was their University. From time to time John would send me a book that he had written, or planned to write and ask for my comments. Whenever I saw an article about John in a Magazine or newspaper. I would show it to my friends and say "he was my roommate and best childhood friend." By the way In Fort Wayne we called in Wilson.

Maurice Fowler (called Boo or Moe by Wilson)


Paul Elbert Monday, November 19, 2012 4:26 pm

In the mid-1990s, Mike Morris, then president of Consumers Energy wondered if our company could have an impact on the educational success of "at risk" school districts in Michigan. Mike arranged a meeting with John Porter to investigate what, if anything, Consumers Energy might be able to contribute beyond the financial contributions solicited from the company. Through John's tenacity and Mike's company leadership we forged an innovative program in three school districts that married John's educational philosophy and system for accountability together with our company's resources and business management expertise. John's system did work. Results did improve. Accountability did measurably increase. And, Mike's intuition was proven correct. Businesses could join as an effective member of a team dedicated to educational excellence beyond the financial contribution. There are better prepared people in the workforce of Michigan and America who will never know the impact John had on their lives. But, his fingerprints are all over their careers. We were honored to work with John. We became a better company by our association with him. John's legacy will continue to be lived out in the hearts of those people he transformed through his personal touch and his system of excellence in education.


George and Judith Goodman Sunday, November 18, 2012 7:27 pm

We were saddened to learn of the passing of Dr.John Porter. He was a good friend and colleague. We were fortunate to have his leadership at EMU during the time that we were active in the Ypsilanti community. He was always supportive of town/gown relations as he constantly promoted EMU. The EMU and Ypsilanti community benefited greatly from his leadership. To his family, friends and colleagues we offer our deepest sympathy. May the memories of his wonderful career provide us with continued motivation to help others in need.


Jan Curtiss Taylor class of 1986 Saturday, November 17, 2012 8:19 am

Our sincere condolences to the family and to all of EMU. The Taylor Family


Lorraine Hallinen Friday, November 16, 2012 2:52 pm

I first started working at EMU during Dr. Porter's Presidential term. Our office worked with the President's Office quite a bit since we coordinated a consortium of colleges in Washtenaw County.

I still remember the first time I met Dr. Porter. His handshake was intense and his gaze direct. He truly wanted to make a connection to the staff members he met.

What a loss for the educational community.


Kurt B Smith Friday, November 16, 2012 5:55 am

I'll always remember a man of integrity and great leadership.


Zaharah Abd Jalal, Malaysia Friday, November 16, 2012 3:17 am

President John W Porter is greatly missed by us especially Malaysian Students of 1982 to 1986. We are forever indebted to him for all the support he gave us in all our activities and providing a truly global platform to participate.

He was instrumental in shaping us to be successful men and women through his vision. His warm smile and kindness will always be remembered. May his soul be blessed.


Mary E. Graham Wehking Thursday, November 15, 2012 11:52 pm

I am grateful for the energy and vision he brought to the campus. His commitment to growing EMU was admirable, palpable and implementable. His support of early childhood education programs on campus was pioneering and effective. Thank you, Dr. Porter, for your gifts in teaching, learning and leading. May you rest in peace.


Thomas M. Gwaltney PhD, Professor Emeritus Thursday, November 15, 2012 7:44 pm

I have great respect for Dr. Porter and his manifold contributions. One year I interviewed Dr. Porter about his personal history in connection with the treatment of racial minorities in Michigan history.

He had suffered, but learned to achieve despite opposition, becoming the first African American (and youngest state superintendent) in the United States) as well as President of Eastern Michigan University his influence in Michigan and Eastern Michigan University history was positive, historic and enduring.


Patricia Eubanks Thursday, November 15, 2012 7:04 pm

To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. May the blessed Lord keep you and give you rest from all of your work. Lay your head on His chest and enjoy Him.


Ronald K. Clark Thursday, November 15, 2012 3:00 pm

Dr. Porter was President of EMU during my time at EMU. I graduated from Eastern in April of 1987. I first met Dr. Porter and his family while I was working in the Catering Dept of Eastern Michigan University. I had been selected by the Catering Dept head to be invited to be one the servers who would serve at the President's house. It was a pleasure and an honor to be an extension of the University in this manner. Warm and gracious and with a smile this is how I remember Dr. Porter.


Carl L. Alexander Saturday, November 3, 2012 5:25 pm

I attended EMU from 1978 to 1983. Dr. Porter came to EMU in 1979 and I remember how proud I was that the new president was an African American. I did not know a lot of the history of EMU, but his presence and his success was important to me. I looked to him as a "father figure" and felt that my time at EMU was going to be a success and that I would have everything I needed to be successful there, not only because I was the first in my family to attend college and it was important that I be successful, but because Dr. Porter was there and I felt that he would not let me fail.

Life on campus was fun as well as hard work. In the shadow of U of M, we were trying to make a name for ourselves. Dr. Porter had a vision for EMU. I felt he was very successful at making his vision our vision. I know how politics forced EMU to have to change the nickname from Hurons to Eagles, but EMU will always be the Hurons to me because Dr. John Porter made me proud to be a Huron! May he rest in peace.

Carl