Eastern Michigan University


Dr. John W. Porter Distinguished Service Award

Donald Loppnow, earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin, a Master of Social Work from Washington University, and a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Michigan. He joined Eastern Michigan University in 1974 as a lecturer in sociology with nearly ten years of experience in the field of social work with an emphasis on child social services. Don rose through the academic ranks to professor of social work, the position he held at the time of his retirement in 2014. He was instrumental in founding the Department of Social Work, now the School of Social Work and served as its first Department Head. It was under his leadership that EMU was recognized as a national leader in undergraduate research in the field of Social Work.

Don came into University-wide leadership in 1990 when he was named interim director of the Office of Research Development, which encourages and supports faculty grant writing, and associate director of the Institute for the Study of Children and Families. In 1997, he became associate vice president for Extended Programs and added a half-time appointment as assistant to the president for strategic planning in 2000. Don was tapped by the Board of Regents to serve briefly as acting president in 2004, and then became the senior executive for strategic planning and continuous improvement from 2004-2006. He served as provost and vice president for academic affairs from 2006-2009, with a change in title to executive vice president in 2007. Don was asked, again, to provide much needed leadership as interim president until 2008. After returning to the provost position, Don’s intent was to step down in 2009 in order to return to faculty. His return was delayed for one year when he agreed to serve as vice-president for advancement and executive director of the EMU Foundation.

Don’s leadership and administrative skills have been widely respected among the campus community. Once again, he agreed to serve as interim president until the arrival of EMU’s 23rd President on July 1, 2016 and currently serves in this role.

While Don’s commitment to EMU for more than 40 years is extensive, his contributions to the community are equally commendable. He has served in leadership roles on the Board of Directors for the Riverside Arts Center, the Ypsilanti Area Community Fund, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Washtenaw County, the Ann Arbor Hands-on Museum, the Ypsilanti Historical Society, the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation and the 109 year-old town-gown organization, the Twenty Club. He has also served on the boards or committees of Dawn Farm, HelpSource, Ann Arbor Child and Family Services Coordinating Council, Junior League of Ann Arbor, Washtenaw United Way, and more. Don’s participation in these organizations has proven him to be a hands-on leader and invaluable in strategic planning, grant writing, financial oversight, diplomacy, and manual labor when needed. In addition to his skill in bringing groups together, his patience, calm demeanor and fair, measured approach to complaints and controversy have moved these organizations forward.

The breadth of Don’s EMU responsibilities and local volunteer activities attest to Don’s passion for and dedication to the University and the broader community. EMU students, colleagues, alumni and community members know him as a trusted administrator and a staunch community servant.  The all have benefited from his long-standing history of serving others.