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April 14, 2005
CONTACT: Ron Podell 734.487.4400

Seven prominent EMU alumni, supporters to be honored April 30

YPSILANTI - The principal trumpeter with the U.S. Army Band who played "Taps" at President Reagan's funeral; a Detroit police officer who fought in Operation Iraqi Freedom; and a professional football player are among the seven outstanding alumni and supporters who will be honored at Eastern Michigan University's 44 th Annual Alumni Awards Dinner Saturday, April 30, at the Ypsilanti Marriott.

A cocktail reception begins at 6 p.m. followed by dinner and the awards ceremony at 7 p.m.

"The annual Alumni Awards Dinner is our showcase event," said Vicki Reaume, executive director of Alumni Relations. "This wonderful event began more than 43 years ago and this year we continue the special tradition and induct a very distinguished group."

The honorees are:

The Outstanding Young Alumnus Award

Charles D. Batch ('97), a quarterback with the Pittsburgh Steelers and president of the Best of Batch Foundation. This award is presented to alumni whose achievements have been signified by personal honors bestowed upon them by their peers and who have demonstrated the worth of their education through their post-college achievements.

As quarterback, Batch is EMU's all-time record holder for total plays (1,179), total offensive yards (7,715), pass attempts (998), pass completions (579), yards passing (7,592) and touchdown passes (53). Batch's performance in the NFL resulted in NFL Rookie of the Month and NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors, as well as the 1998 Mel Farr Rookie of the Year Award for the Detroit Lions. In 2000, Batch established the Best of the Batch Foundation in Homestead, Pa. The Foundation offers programs that directly impact youth in underprivileged communities in the Pittsburgh area.

Alumni Achievement Awards

Patrick Gannon ('92), Solution Sales, Microsoft Corporation ; and Annette Sabo Johnson ('94) , business department chair and international studies facilitator for Olathe Northwest High School in Olathe, Kansas, will receive the Alumni Achievement Award. This award is presented for distinction in the recipients' chosen field; for demonstrating the value of their college education and for maintaining a continuing interest in Eastern Michigan University.

Gannon graduated in 1992 with a B.B.A. in accounting information systems. In 2004, he joined Microsoft Corporation as a Solution Sales representative based in Chicago. Before joining Microsoft, Gannon spent 10 years in sales and consulting at Oracle Corporation and two years at the CPA firm of Veatch, Rich and Nadler in Chicago. Gannon is the current EMU Accounting Alumni Chapter president. He also is a board member of the newly created Great Teachers Fund and orchestrated a $9.3 million donation of Oracle Database and Applications software to the EMU Department of Accounting and Finance.

Johnson received an associate's degree from Monroe County Community College (MCCC), a bachelor's degree from the University of Toledo and a master's degree from EMU. Johnson taught in the business division at MCCC and, from 1992-96, served as the first chair of the Board of Directors of the MCCC Alumni Association. She also served as a member of the EMU Alumni Association Board of Directors.

From 1996-2001, Johnson taught business courses at Johnson County (Kansas) Community College and, in 1999, received the Leiberman Award for Outstanding Performance and Teaching Excellence. Johnson has been in a number of positions with the Olathe School District, including helping launch the district's international studies education program and designing the district's state-of-the-art, technology-based high school.

Distinguished Alumni Award

Sgt. Major Woodrow R. English ('75), principal trumpet with the United States Army Band ; and Roy McCalister, Jr. ('77 ), a lieutenant in the homicide division of the Detroit Police Department and Chief Warrant Officer 4 (retired), in the U.S. Army Reserves, will receive the Distinguished Alumni Award. This award is given to alumni who have achieved extraordinary distinction in their chosen field, demonstrated unusual service to mankind, and maintained a continuing interest in Eastern Michigan University.

English has performed with the United States Army Band, "Pershing's Own," for more than 29 years. English has been honored with the title of Official Bugler of the United States of America and is a founding member of the United States Army Brass Quintet. He has achieved the highest rank possible for enlisted soldiers and has received many prestigious military awards, including the U.S. Armed Forces Legion of Merit.

He has performed at numerous presidential ceremonies, including playing "Taps" at President Reagan's funeral. His recorded version of "Taps" is played at all military funerals where a live bugler is unavailable.

After graduating with a baccalaureate degree in criminology and criminal justice, McCalister entered the Detroit Metropolitan Police Academy. After graduation, he was assigned to the Mini-Station Administration Citywide Task Force. In 1981, McCalister enlisted in the U.S. Army, where he was stationed in South Korea. He returned to the Detroit Police Department in 1985. In 1999, McCalister became a lieutenant with the Violent Crimes Task Force and also went to work for the homicide section. In 2003, he returned to active duty for "Operation Iraqi Freedom" with the U.S. Army Reserves. While stationed in Baghdad, Iraq, he served a number of roles, including interrogating many of Saddam Hussein's top aides.

He has been an active supporter of EMU, serving as a member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors and president of the EMU Black Alumni Chapter.

Dr. John W. Porter Distinguished Service Awards

Robert L. Johnston, an emeritus Eastern Michigan University Foundation trustee and retired vice chairman of Gerber Products, Co.; and Rick Ross ('75. '77. '85), an educator and administrator with the Lincoln Consolidated Schools in Ypsilanti , will receive the Dr. John W. Porter Distinguished Service Award. This award is presented to individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to EMU or its alumni association.

In 1955, Johnston joined Gerber as a salesman. In 1969, he was moved to corporate headquarters in Fremont and became product manager. He later worked as a divisional sales manager in Chicago and a plant manager in Asheville, N.C. Johnston also served as general manager in 1985 and president in 1991, retiring from Gerber in 1994 as vice chairman.

Johnston served on EMU's College of Business Development Board and helped plan the fundraising campaign for the Owen College of Business Building. He served as an EMU Foundation trustee from 1996-2004, including a two-year term as chair.

Ross received a bachelor's degree and two master's degrees from EMU. He has 30 years experience as a teacher, counselor and administrator with Lincoln Consolidated Schools. Ross was an English teacher and a counselor at Lincoln Junior High, now Lincoln Middle School. He also was the principal at Lincoln High School. Ross received the Outstanding Educator Award and is listed in "Who's Who in American Education." Ross is a former member of the EMU Alumni Association Board of Directors.

Outside of the classroom, Ross has coached football, basketball and track. His track teams at Lincoln high school won 12 conference championships and 14 regional championships during his 14-year coaching career.

For more information on the awards dinner, call 734.487.0250.

Eastern Michigan University is a public, comprehensive university that offers programs in the arts, sciences and professions. EMU prepares students with the intellectual skills and practical experiences to succeed in their career and lives, and to be better citizens.


Eastern Michigan University is a public, comprehensive university that offers programs in the arts, sciences and professions. EMU prepares students with the intellectual skills and practical experiences to succeed in their career and lives, and to be better citizens.

Editor's Note: Looking for an expert source for a story? Check out EMU's Eastern Experts online at www.emich.edu/univcomm/easternexperts.

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