Right here on Saturday, May 7th, we will celebrate the 2022 Alumni Award recipients with a virtual celebration! Be sure to tune in and share your congratulations to this accomplished class of alumni.
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. Generally, recipients have been graduates of Eastern Michigan University for less than ten years
Community and Social Responsibility Director, Detroit Pistons
Christopher Economeas, in his eighth season with the Detroit Pistons organization, currently serves as the Community and Social Responsibility Director where he oversees the organization’s community outreach programs for metro Detroit. Economeas received his Bachelor of Science in Communication from Eastern Michigan University in 2013. After graduation, he headed to Detroit where he earned his master’s degree in sports administration from Wayne State University in 2015, and where he also interned with the Pistons as a Community and Public Relations Intern, beginning his career in professional sports.
In his current role as Community and Social Responsibility Director with the Pistons organization, Economeas focuses his efforts on the betterment of the metro-Detroit community through engagement with the Piston’s brand. In 2015, he orchestrated a mortgage-free home giveaway to a local military veteran in need and was awarded a certificate of appreciation from the United States Army Garrison Detroit Arsenal in recognition of his outstanding support, dedication, and commitment to military service members and their families.
Under Chris Economeas’s guidance, the Pistons' community and social responsibility program has been at the forefront of Detroit's community engagement efforts through education, mentoring, health, equality, and special events such as the Junior NBA Week basketball clinics, The Pistons Fit Boot Camp, Back to School Backpack event each year, Pups in the Plaza and Basketball for All. He also manages the Detroit Pistons segment of the NBA Cares program. NBA Cares is the league's global social responsibility program that builds on the NBA’s mission of addressing important social issues. NBA Cares programs and events are designed to support communities around the world by inspiring play and teaching basketball’s values to more than 15 million youth, providing an additional 3 million hours of hands-on service to others, and leaving a lasting legacy in communities by building 1,000 more safe places to live, learn or play by 2025.
In addition, Chris also holds a seat as an ambassador on the PeacePlayers International (Detroit) Advisory Council and participates in volunteer work for Wish Upon A Teen, Forgotten Harvest, and Toys for Tots, which is above and beyond what he does in his professional world.
“Chris has shown the community, State and the NBA what it means to be #TRUEMU because of his continued commitment and his desire to make a difference,” said Donna Edwards, Director of Public Affairs at US Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command. "Those qualities make Christopher Economeas a perfect recipient of EMU’s Young Alumni Award.”
Assistant Women's Basketball Coach, University of Southern California
As a community college transfer student and junior college All-American athlete, Wendale Farrow arrived at EMU in 2007 with a commitment to excellence inside and outside the classroom. Farrow, who graduated in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science in Communication, received EMU men’s basketball Scholar Athlete Award and was named an All-Academic District Award recipient by the National Association of Basketball Coaches.
After completing his undergraduate degree, he went on to pursue a Master of Arts in Higher Education and Student Affairs at EMU while serving as a graduate assistant for the men's basketball team. He completed his graduate degree in 2013 and went on to coach women’s basketball at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA); Vanderbilt University; and the University of California, Berkeley. Currently, Farrow serves as the Assistant Women’s Basketball Coach at the University of Southern California (USC). As a coach at the collegiate level, Farrow has helped recruit and develop 11 NCAA All-Americans, 14 all-conference athletes, five WNBA draft picks, and has appeared in four post-season tournaments.
In addition to his full-time role, Farrow serves as a board member for a California program called The City Eats, a non-profit organization dedicated to unifying the community through the mission of eradicating hunger amongst the inner-city homeless population. Each month, Farrow helps prepare and distribute balanced meals personally with love, care, and compassion.
According to USC Women’s Basketball Head Coach Lindsay Gottlieb “From players he’s coached to colleagues at the collegiate, high school, and club level, everyone raves about Dale’s ability to connect with people, his deft ability with x’s and o’s, his on-court skill development, and his presence in the community.”
Wendale Farrow has committed his life to developing others and has been a tremendous representative of Eastern Michigan University making himself a great recipient for EMU’s Outstanding Young Alumni Award.
This award is presented to alumni who have achieved distinction in their chosen field, clearly demonstrated the value of their college education, and maintained a continuing interest in Eastern Michigan University. Generally, recipients have been graduates of Eastern Michigan University for ten to twenty-five years.
Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer, Great Lakes Water Authority
A Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Nicolette Bateson is the Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer for the Great Lakes Water Authority with previous experience at Grant Thornton, the City of Northville, Michigan State University Extension Service, and the City of Detroit.
In her current role, Bateson worked to transform the City of Detroit’s Water and Sewage Department into the successful regional authority it is today – and in the process, saved $1 billion in debt service charges.
“Nicolette's capacity goes well beyond the boundaries of her day-to-day operating assignment and perhaps well beyond what most of us would consider humanly possible," said Sue McCormick, CEO of the Great Lakes Water Authority. "However, I think it is well known by those who have worked with Nickie — it's not the external forces that drive her, but her internal desire to make each organization she touches exemplary.”
As a 2012 Honors Graduate of EMU’s Master of Public Administration Program, Bateson was inducted into Pi Alpha Alpha, the National Honor Society for Public Affairs and Administration, and was also named the MPA’s Outstanding Student of the Year. Other notable achievements include EMU’s Master of Public Administration Public Administrator of the Year (2017) and her recognition as one of Crain’s Detroit Notable Women in Finance (2018). Co-authoring numerous publications, Bateson has presented at an extensive list of conferences including: Inforum Southeast Women on the Move Affinity Meeting; American Water Summit in Philadelphia, PA.; 2018 Water Finance Conference; World Water Tech North America; National Association of State Treasurers Treasury Management Training Symposium; and the Detroit Bond Club and the Municipal Advisory Council of Michigan Annual Spring Conference.
Her commitment to EMU remains strong, participating in the MPA’s Advisory Board since 2015 and supervising pre-service interns from the program. Nicolette Bateson is an exemplary recipient of EMU’s Alumni Award and a tribute to the MPA Program. Bateson is also a Water and Wastewater Chief Financial Officer Forum Advisor and has affiliated professionally with the American Water Works Association, Government Finance Officers Association, Michigan Government Finance Officers Association, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants.
Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of California, Merced
After graduating cum laude from Eastern Michigan University with an undergraduate degree in Chemistry, Hrant Hratchian pursued graduate work at Wayne State University on a National Science Foundation Fellowship, where he was awarded a doctoral degree in Theoretical Chemistry in 2005. After a postdoctoral fellowship at Indiana University, the first part of Dr. Hratchian’s career was spent as a Research Scientist at Gaussian, the foremost provider of computer software for computational chemists. In 2013, he returned to academia as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the University of California Merced. There, he has since been granted tenure and promoted to Associate Professor and Chair of the Department.
Dr. Hrant Hratchian’s work is based in electronic structure theory, which intersects mathematics, software engineering, physics, and chemistry. His scientific contributions have been acknowledged with numerous distinctions, including the 2017-2018 Hellman Faculty Fellowship at UC Merced, a highly prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER Award from 2019-2024, and grants from the Petroleum Research Fund and the Department of Energy. He has authored and co-authored more than 50 research publications which have been cited in Google Scholar in excess of 155,000 times.
An equally important element of Dr. Hratchian’s legacy is giving back – through elementary school science outreach activities in his community and advising, mentoring, and successfully nurturing underrepresented graduate students at Merced. At EMU, he lent his knowledge and expertise within the Honors College as a participant on the College Planning Committee and with the Alumni Mentor Program, while also serving as both a lecturer and occasional seminar speaker for the Department of Chemistry. His former colleague and collaborator at Indiana University, Chemistry Department Chair Caroline Chick Jarrold noted, “Professor Hrant Hratchian is an extraordinary ambassador for Eastern Michigan University. He is an accomplished scientist, impactful mentor, and a recognized leader who exemplifies the EMU motto – Equity, Exemplar, Excellence.”
Dr. Hratchian is involved in a number of professional organizations including the American Chemical Society, the American Physical Society, and the American Associations for the Advancement of Science.
This award is given to alumni who have achieved extraordinary distinction in their chosen field, demonstrated unusual service to others, and maintained a continuing interest in Eastern Michigan University. Generally, recipients have been graduates of EMU for more than 25 years.
Director of Graduate Education, Concordia University - Ann Arbor
As a three-time alumna of Eastern Michigan University, Dr. Sandra Harris has been an ambassador for EMU for over 50 years. Harris holds a bachelor’s in business education, a master’s in guidance and counseling, a specialist certification, and a doctorate degree in educational leadership. She served as an adjunct professor at EMU teaching courses in educational leadership to aspiring school administrators – a role she achieved with distinction.
“Dr. Harris is well known for her work in diversity, equity and inclusion,” said Gregory A. Peoples, former John W. Porter Distinguished Alumni Award recipient and Staff Emeritus at EMU. “She is frequently called upon to serve as a panelist by college students on Black educational leadership, equity, and inclusion in higher education.”
She began her professional career serving Ann Arbor Public Schools working as a teacher, vocational coordinator, assistant principal, and personnel director. Eventually, Dr. Harris was hired as the first female Superintendent for the Oak Park School district leading educational services for the district’s eight schools attended by 4,500 students and supported by over 450 staff members.
Currently, Harris serves as the first African American woman to hold the title of Director of Graduate Programs in the School of Education at Concordia University, Ann Arbor. In this role, she advocates for underrepresented populations through partnerships with local school districts that improve cultural competencies for students at Concordia. Her involvement has been extensive with various professional affiliations, having held membership in Michigan Association of School Administrators, Teacher Education Advisory Board, Phi Delta Kappa, Metropolitan Detroit Alliance of Black Educators and American Association of School Personnel Administrators and certifications in Secondary School Teacher, Vocational Education, Secondary School Administrator, Central Office Administrator and Superintendent Certifications.
Additionally, she has received several honors: Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated’s 2013 Women of Achievement, 2008 Women of Courage by The Minerva Educational Development Foundation, 2004 Business Direct Weekly’s Most Influential Women, and the Girl Scouts of the Huron Valley Council’s 2004 Women of Distinction Award. Dr. Harris is an active member of many public service organizations including the Ann Arbor (MI) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated; Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, Ann Arbor Alumnae Chapter; and the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, Incorporated; and is a member of Second Baptist Church of Ann Arbor. Her continued connection to EMU is illustrated through her support of programming efforts from EMU Day in Lansing to the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration.
Senior Vice President of Human Resources, MotorCity Casino Hotel
A track and field scholar-athlete, David Turner graduated from Eastern Michigan University (EMU) with a Bachelor of Business Administration in 1994. Since that time, his career has exemplified a commitment to excellence in both the professional field of human capital management and community service.
“David is a knowledgeable, collaborative, creative professional,” noted Dr. Wanda Cook-Robinson, Superintendent of Oakland Schools. “He is a strong leader and communicator who is organized, efficient, and willing to do whatever is needed. His colleagues hold him in the highest regard and find him to be objective and supportive. He leads by example and holds people to high standards – himself to the highest.”
Currently, Dr. Turner serves as the Senior Vice President of Human Resources for MotorCity Casino Hotel focusing on employee and labor relations, talent acquisition and development, and maintaining a diverse and inclusive workforce. Before joining MotorCity Casino Hotel, he was the Vice President of Human Resources at EMU. While in this position, Dr. Turner demonstrated his passion and commitment to the university community by participating as a mentor, panelist, presenter, and guest lecturer for the Brotherhood Initiative; the College of Business Alumni Business Conference; the Young, Black and Successful program; the Eastern Michigan Student Chapter of SHRM; various College of Business courses; and as a member of Black Faculty and Staff Association and the Black Alumni Association.
Beyond his professional career, Dr. Turner’s societal commitment has included volunteer, fundraiser, and advisory board roles for numerous organizations such as the American Lung Association, Soldiers Angels, Big Brothers Big Sisters, March of Dimes, Gleaners Food Bank, NPower Regional, and the Farmington Hills School Board as the first African American male President. He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated, Iota Rho Lambda Chapter and was acknowledged by the Michigan Chronicle as a 2019 Men of Excellence honoree.
He holds a master’s degree in Human Resources Management and Administration from Central Michigan University and a doctoral degree in Human Capital Management from Bellevue University. His professional affiliations include: Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), Detroit-SHRM (Immediate Past President), World at Work, National Association of African-Americans in Human Resources (NAAAHR), and Michigan College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (past President). Dr. Turner’s professional certifications include: Certified Compensation Professional, Senior Certified Professional from the Society for Human Resources Management, and a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion certification from the University of South Florida.
This award is presented to individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to Eastern Michigan University or the Alumni Association of EMU. Recipients need not be graduates of Eastern Michigan University.
EMU Professors Emeriti and couple, Drs. Karen and Michael Paciorek are both distinguished teachers, scholars, and long-time EMU supporters who received their doctoral degrees at Vanderbilt University – Dr. Michael Paciorek in adapted physical education and Dr. Karen Paciorek in early childhood education.
“There are few people who care as deeply about the students and community at Eastern Michigan University as Drs. Karen and Michael Paciorek,” noted Kelly Quilter, Chief Development Officer, EMU Foundation. “It is evident in their excellent work as volunteers, advocates, fundraisers, and faculty and staff members.”
In her 40-year career, Professor Karen Paciorek taught over 16,000 students, edited 40 academic publications, and was a frequent presenter at national and international conferences. She co-chaired EMU’s Give Rise Faculty and Staff Campaign with her husband, and is a charter member of Women in Philanthropy at EMU. An elected member of the Northville Michigan School Board for nine years, she continues her commitment of service as Chair for the Wolverine Human Services Board of Directors and as a member of the EMU Foundation Board of Trustees.
In addition to his teaching and research as Professor of Physical Education at EMU, Dr. Michael Paciorek edited three editions of the Disability Sport and Recreation Resources manual, served as President of the Northville Public Schools Athletic Booster Club for five years, was a staff member of the 1992 United States Paralympic Team, and served as a board member of Michigan Special Olympics. Following 25 years of teaching, he moved to an administrative role as Faculty Compliance Associate in EMU’s Athletic Department.
Both Drs. Michael and Karen Paciorek received lifetime achievement awards from, respectively, the Michigan Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance; and the Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children. Each was also honored with an Eastern Michigan University Alumni Association Teaching Excellence Award, a Ronald Collins Award for Outstanding Service to the University, and received the Association of Fundraising Professionals Distinguished Volunteer Award. Dr. Michael Paciorek additionally received a Distinguished Service Award from the National Consortium on Physical Education and Recreation for Individuals with Disabilities. In 2017, he and Dr. Karen Paciorek established the Karen Menke Paciorek Endowed Early Childhood Education Scholarship at EMU. The Karen Menke Paciorek Early Childhood Education Scholarship helps EMU students majoring in early childhood education that have a passion for the field of education of young children and show a strong commitment to early childhood education through previous work or volunteer experience with young children.