by Vicki Reaume, Published April 28, 2009
YPSILANTI —Distinguished alumni from fields as diverse as theatre, athletics, politics, photography, interdisciplinary technology and the law, along with an innovative professor, will be honored at Eastern Michigan University’s 48th annual Alumni Awards Dinner Saturday, May 9, at the Ypsilanti Marriott and Eagle Crest Conference Center.
Hosted by the EMU Alumni Association, the evening begins with a reception at 6 p.m. followed by dinner and the program at 7 p.m. Tickets are $55 per person or $400 for a table of eight and can be purchased by contacting the Office for Alumni Relations at (734) 487-0250.
“We take great pride in the caliber of the award recipients and appreciate our alumni and friends for nominating these deserving individuals,” says Vicki Reaume, executive director of Alumni Relations. “These illustrious honorees have followed different paths, but all embody the dedication and values they learned at Eastern Michigan.”
Actor and author David Blixt (’99) of Chicago, and attorney Terrence J. L. Thompson (’02) of Detroit are this year’s recipients of the Outstanding Young Alumni Award. Blixt is a Shakespearean actor whose novel, The Master of Verona, has been considered by Disney Touchstone as a feature film. Thompson, an associate with Miller, Canfield, Paddock and Stone in Detroit, is a dedicated volunteer who mentors a number of EMU students and is a member of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit.
Alumni Achievement Awards will be presented to Allen D. Fazio (’89), of Mission Viejo, Calif., and Nichole Francis Reynolds (’97) of Alexandria, VA. Fazio is a former EMU homecoming king who is now vice president and chief information officer for Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Calif. One of his projects revolutionized how guests purchase and redeem tickets within the theme park industry. Reynolds is chief of staff for U.S. Representative Betty Sutton (D-Ohio) and was named one of 30 Young Leaders of the Future by Ebony magazine.
Kenneth “Red” Simmons (’33) of Ann Arbor, and Duane Zemper (’42) of Howell, Mich., will receive Distinguished Alumni Awards. Simmons is a former coach who is widely respected for his leadership role in moving women’s track and field into the mainstream. He has coached a number of Olympians and the first woman to win the Boston Marathon. Zemper’s collection of negatives and photographs from World War II has been requested by the Smithsonian Institute and was featured in an award-winning documentary.
EMU Professor and Director of Theatre Ken Stevens of Grass Lake will be honored with the Dr. John W. Porter Distinguished Service Award for his numerous contributions to the arts and the University. Stevens developed an interdisciplinary arts management program, the first in the Midwest, and has produced and directed productions around Michigan and outside the state.
“These awards celebrate Eastern Michigan alumni and friends who have demonstrated the value of their EMU experience and who are generous with their time and knowledge,” says Reaume.