by Geoff Larcom, Published January 16, 2014
YPSILANTI – Carl Levin, the longest-serving U.S. senator in Michigan history, and Rodney Slater, a former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation and an Eastern Michigan University graduate, will receive EMU’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award.
The awards will be presented at the University’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr. luncheon, to be held at 11:45 a.m. Monday, Jan. 20 in the EMU Student Center Ballroom.
Levin was elected to the Senate in 1978, and will retire at the end of 2014. His many key roles include serving as chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, co-chair of the Senate Great Lakes Task Force and chair of Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.
Levin, a Democrat, is a former member of Detroit City Council who worked closely with Mayor Coleman Young on various issues, and served as the first general counsel to the Michigan Civil Rights Commission.
Slater, a 1977 graduate of EMU and an Arkansas native, served in various positions under then governor Bill Clinton of Arkansas. In 1993, President Clinton named Slater director of the Federal Highway Administration. In 1997, Clinton named Slater secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, where he served until 2001. He is now a partner with the Washington D.C. law firm of Patton Boggs, LLP.
Slater, who was voted captain of EMU’s football team and made the dean’s list, chaired EMU's recent and highly successful comprehensive fundraising campaign. That effort, called “Invest. Inspire. The Campaign for Eastern Michigan University” raised $56 million, surpassing the goal of $50 million more than a year ahead of schedule in late 2011. Slater was praised for his efforts in bringing the EMU community together to show such strong support during difficult economic times.
Nominating statements for Levin and Slater praised their passion for public service and for helping people.
“Levin has built a reputation – on both sides of the aisle – for decency and integrity, for placing the public good above politics …” read one nomination letter. “He has been a consistent and powerful advocate for American manufacturing, for the environment, for safe and affordable health care, for those who place their lives on the line to protect and defend our freedoms.”
Slater was praised for the way “he has carried himself with dignity and an abiding concern” for those less privileged.
“Mr. Slater truly exemplifies the dreams and values of Dr. King,” the letter read, citing the famous King quote that, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
Both Levin and Slater will be at the luncheon to receive their awards.
EMU annually presents The Martin Luther King, Jr. Humanitarian Award to a member of the University community or of the broader community who exemplifies the values and ideals of King, specifically in the areas of leadership and service, or to someone who has made a significant contribution to the University and/or broader community.
Last year’s winners were State Representative David Rutledge, Joseph Dulin, former longtime principal of Roberto Clemente High School in Ann Arbor; and Roy Wilbanks, former chair of the EMU Board of Regents and a longtime top administrator at the University.
Tickets for the luncheon are still available and can be bought at the campus ticket offices in the Convocation Center and Student Center or at www.emutix.com