Eastern Michigan University
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Scholarship Honorees

Scholarships in honor of or in memoriam enable like-minded students to continue the work of the honoree. In that spirit, we present a short biography for each of the persons after whom our scholarships were named.

John Barson Fellowship in Public Administration

Dr. John Barson devoted his professional life to health care and the field of public management. Internationally known and respected as an educational consultant in medicine, Dr. Barson earned a B.A. from Eastern Michigan University and an M.A. and Ed.D. from Wayne State University. In the 1960s, as a professor of Medical Education at Michigan State University, Dr. Barson revised the basic science and clinical teaching methods for the College of Human Medicine. He was also a founding faculty member, and later Associate Dean, for the College of Osteopathic Medicine at MSU.

Known for his expertise in developing curricula and residency programs, Dr. Barson was appointed by the State Regents and legislature of Oklahoma in the 1970s to establish a new medical college emphasizing primary care in Tulsa. His tenure and service as Founding President of the Oklahoma College of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery was unmatched. Before he stepped down as President in 1984, the State Regents designated the John Barson Administration Building at the medical campus of Oklahoma State University as a center for professional studies and biomedical research. Until 1994, Dr. Barson continued to consult for medical schools in areas such as residency training, faculty development, and organization.

Throughout his career, Dr. Barson remained committed to effective administration, efficiency, and the application of public administration skills to health care and higher education. He is fondly remembered by family and friends who hope his memory lives on in the lives of those who will be changed forever by this fellowship in his name. The fellowship is funded from an endowment created by a generous gift from William and Delores Brehm.

The James H. Brickley Scholarship

This scholarship commemorates James H. Brickley’s dedication to public service. Brickley (1928-2001) received his bachelors and law degrees from the University of Detroit and then a masters of law degree from New York University.

His career included work as an FBI special agent, a prosecutor in Wayne County, and as United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan. Brickley was also Lieutenant Governor of Michigan from 1971 to 1975 and again from 1979 to 1983. He was appointed in December 1982 to the Michigan Supreme Court, where he served until 1999. He served as Chief Justice during 1995-1996.

Brickley remained committed to higher education throughout his lifetime. He was an adjunct professor at several universities, and from 1974 until 1978 served as the 16th president of Eastern Michigan University.

The David Hortin Scholarship in Public Law

During his career, David Hortinworked tirelessly to educate and challenge young minds inside and outside of the classroom through his role as a professor and adviser to the PreLaw Society. Hortin’s service includes several highlights

  • Nearly 40 yrears on the faculty of EMU
  • Senior Distinguished Faculty Teaching Award
  • Alumni Association Teaching Excellence Award (two-time winner)
  • Posthumous distinction as emeritus professor, on the unanimous recommendation of the Department of Political Science

To honor David’s achievements and allow him to continue to positively affect students even after his death, we have established the David Hortin Public law Student Fund at EMU. This endowment will provide scholarships for students of public law and also will benefit public law-related activities such as the Mock Trial Program.

Richard Fierens Memorial Scholarship in Public Law

Sgt. Richard Fierens passed away on July 6, 2007, at the age of 25 as the result of a traffic accident. Richard was a young man who was as principled and smart as he was driven. He was a leader who adopted the role of soldier, scholar, and servant.

Success would have had a hard time avoiding his grasp. The day Richard died, he lost his dream of becoming an attorney; we at Eastern lost a close friend and Mock Trial competitor; the legal system lost someone who would have become one of its greatest attorneys; and thousands of future defendants lost a great advocate and their best shot at a fair trial.

We gained a living memory of why it is important to put principles and people ahead of personal gain. This scholarship is in his honor.

Robert O. McWilliams Memorial Scholarship

Robert O. McWilliams was a faculty member in Political Science Department from 1956 until his retirement in 1986. Professor McWilliams died in 2011, after which his wife, Kathryn Yount McWilliams, established the McWilliams Scholarship in his honor.

Professor McWilliams was born and raised in Mt.Clemens MI, and attended the University of Michigan (A.B. 1945; Ph.D. 1952) and Wayne State University (M.P.A. 1947). In addition to basic American Government classes, he regularly taught courses in Municipal Administration and Public Opinion.

We gained a living memory of why it is important to put principles and people ahead of personal gain. This scholarship is in his honor. Professor McWilliams valued the opportunity to challenge and stimulate students through his love of learning and his knowledge of politics. This scholarship reflects his enthusiasm for teaching and his concern for students by providing support to worthy EMU students.

Fr. Bernard J. O’Connor Scholarship in Civic Engagement

In 2004, Dr. Bernard J. O’Connor left Eastern Michigan University for a position in the Vatican in the administration of Pope John Paul II. At EMU "Father Bernie," as most people knew him, taught political science, served as assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, counseled EMU students and staff, and was the ROTC chaplain.

In Rome O’Connor served as a member or "adviser" to the Eastern Churches, which include countries such as Egypt, Syria, Iran and Jordan. His responsibilities include helping the eastern regions of the Catholic Church communicate with one another and working with various governments on human rights concerns.

A native of Nova Scotia, O’Connor was ordained a Catholic priest in 1977. He earned a doctorate in systematic theology from the Gregorian University in 1986 and a law degree from the University of Tennessee in 1994. His numerous honors include the EMU Gold Medallion Award in 2004, the Award for Excellence in Innovative Teaching from the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning in 2003, and Michigan Professor of the Year in both 1999 and 2001.