by Geoff Larcom, Published January 23, 2013
YPSILANTI – Joseph Dulin, who served nearly 30 years as principal at Roberto Clemente High School in Ann Arbor, State Rep. David Rutledge and Eastern Michigan University Regent Emeritus and former administrator Roy Wilbanks received EMU's Martin Luther King, Jr., Humanitarian Award this week.
The award goes to people from the University or the surrounding community who exemplify the values and ideals of Dr. King. It was among a variety of special honors bestowed at EMU's annual MLK Luncheon on Jan. 21.
Dulin spent most of his career - over 30 years - as the founding principal of Roberto Clemente High School in Ann Arbor, where he worked every day with students who had struggled in their traditional public high school and, in many instances, faced their last chance to earn an education.
Dulin, of Ann Arbor, also established the National African American Parent Involvement Day to encourage parents of African American children to become more active in the daily lives of their children. The program is now celebrated in 49 states and in several countries around the world.
Rutledge's diverse career includes service as a captain in the U.S. Air Force, a supervisor of Superior Township, chair of the Washtenaw County Road Commission, a trustee of Washtenaw Community College and his current role as the EMU area's Representative in Lansing.
Rutledge, of Superior Township, was recognized as the Ann Arbor News' "Citizen of the Year" in 2000.
Wilbanks, of Ypsilanti Township, served an eight-year term as an Eastern Michigan University Regent - including four years as Chair of the Board - leading the board in key initiatives that were designed to ensure access to education.
Under Wilbanks' board leadership, EMU students experienced the smallest increase in tuition of all the public universities in Michigan. Wilbanks also led the regents during an unprecedented increase in institutional financial aid, along with an investment of more than $100 million during his tenure to upgrade EMU's infrastructure, including the renovations of the Pray-Harrold Building and the Science Complex.
He spent decades in various senior roles in the EMU administration. Before joining EMU, Wilbanks served as an Ypsilanti township trustee, Ypsilanti Public School teacher, a wrestling coach and a mentor to many students.
Prior recipients of the MLK Humanitarian Award include United States Senator Debbie Stabenow, Congressman John Dingell and former EMU President John Porter.
EMU also honored two area high school students and three of its own students.
Jennifer Rokakis, of Canton, and Nicole Marie Johnson, of Detroit, received the Evans-Strand award. The $1,000 award, established by Gary Evans and Katie Strand-Evans in the College of Arts and Sciences, recognizes contributions in advancing the understanding and furthering the acceptance of diversity at EMU.
Rokakis, a senior majoring in Women's and Gender Studies, is a campus leader in promoting a positive LGBT environment on campus. After graduating, she plans to work for a non-profit that advocates on behalf of LGBT people.
Johnson, a senior majoring in educational leadership, created and implemented the Mr. and Miss Towers Pageant to raise scholarship funds to pay for housing at EMU. She is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, served as host for EMU's 2012 MLK luncheon, and has organized more than 80 on-campus programs.
Ebony Walls, a social work major from Muskegon, received the MLK Student Humanitarian Award, which recognizes an EMU student who has demonstrated a commitment to promoting respect and improving the quality of life for all people, consistent with the ideas of MLK, and who has demonstrated service to EMU and/or the southeastern Michigan community.
Walls' extensive service includes more than 350 volunteer hours at EMU. She is a graduate of EMU's Emerging Leader Series and LeaderShape Program, and served as program coordinator for the EMU VISION Pen Pals Mentoring Program and vice president of an EMU residence hall leadership advisory board. She in involved in numerous volunteer roles in Muskegon, and is a private caregiver.
Asia Yarbough, a senior at Ypsilanti High School, and Bria Wood, a senior at Lincoln High School, were honored as 2013 MLK Essay Writing Contest winners. Yarbough plans to attend EMU and pursue both a bachelors and masters degree in Social Work, and Wood plans to study music with the hopes of becoming a professional opera singer.