Published: May 6, 1999

MSU Alumni Association honors fourteen for distinguished service

EAST LANSING, Mich. - Fourteen individuals will be presented with Distinguished Alumni Awards by the Michigan State University Alumni Association for their service to community, state and country.

The Distinguished Alumni Award winners, which include a U.S. ambassador to Germany, broadcast journalists, business executives, artists and engineers, will be honored at individual college commencement ceremonies Friday, May 7, and Saturday, May 8.

The schedule, recipients and their honoring colleges are listed below.


  • 9 a.m. - Shirley A. Weis, Rochester, Minn., executive director of Mayo Management Services, Inc., (College of Nursing ceremony at the Wharton Center.)
  • 3:30 p.m. - Chosei Kabira, Tokyo, Japan, professor and vice president of liberal arts, Showa Women's University, Tokyo. (College of Communications Arts and Sciences ceremony at the Jack Breslin Student Events Center.)
  • 4 p.m. - John C. Kornblum, Bonn, West Germany, U.S. ambassador to Germany, and John T. Scott, New Orleans, professor of fine arts at Xavier University of Louisiana. (College of Arts and Letters ceremony at the MSU Auditorium.)
  • 4 p.m. - Donald C. Sawyer, Okemos, president of Donald Sawyer Education Services, Inc. (College of Veterinary Medicine ceremony at the Wharton Center.)


  • 9 a.m. - Donald W. Maine, Grand Rapids, chancellor of the Davenport Educational System, Inc.; Fred C. Tinning, Kirksville, Mo., adjunct professor for the Department of Health Administration, University of South Carolina; and Surat Silpa-Anan, Bangkok, Thailand, chairperson of the Thailand Education Reform Committee. (College of Education ceremony at the MSU Auditorium.)
  • 12:30 p.m. - William H. Morgan, Rochester Hills, senior executive vice president of Elias Brothers Restaurants and Big Boy International. (College of Social Science ceremony at the Jack Breslin Student Events Center.)
  • 4 p.m. - Richard Lord, Quebec, Canada, engineer, administrator and consultant specializing in immigration adjudication. (College of Engineering ceremony at the MSU Auditorium.)
  • 4 p.m. - Joint award to William Breit, San Antonio, Texas, author and E.M. Stevens Distinguished Professor of Economics, Trinity University, and Kenneth G. Elzinga, Charlottesville, Va., author and professor of economics at the University of Virginia; and Rick Inatome, Troy, chairman of Inacom Corp., a Fortune 500 company. (The Eli Broad College of Business ceremony at the Jack Breslin Student Events Center.)


  • 10 a.m. - Cathy Oberg Blight, Flint, director of pathology at Hurley Medical Center. (College of Human Medicine ceremony at the Wharton Center.)


Since 1997 Surat Silpa-Anan has served Thailand as a senator in the National Parliament's House of Senate and is currently the chairperson of the Thailand Education Reform Committee. Prior to this position he was permanent secretary in the Thailand's Ministry of Education.

A lifelong educator, he has served his country as a teacher, director and member of the Teachers' Civil Service Commission. Since 1975 he has been a member of several other government posts with Thailand's Ministry of Education.

Silpa-Anan, who received his doctoral degree in education from MSU in 1972, has championed many causes in education. These include the establishment of 58 public libraries, as well as the establishment of the Sirinthorn Institute for Continuing and Development Education, and the establishment of the Center of Vocational Training for broader areas around Thailand. He served as chairperson for the committee on the amendment of the Teachers' Civil Service Act.


Cathy Oberg Blight has been the director of pathology for Hurley Medical Center since 1977. She is also the chief deputy medical examiner for Genesee County. Still associated with MSU, she serves as an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Pathology in the College of Human Medicine.

Blight received three degrees from MSU - a bachelor's degree in 1971, a master's degree in 1973 and a doctor of medicine degree in 1977.

She has served in leadership roles on the boards of directors for the Genesee County Humane Society, the Michigan Hospice Organization, the United Way of Genesee and Lapeer counties, the MSU Development Fund and the Flint Area Health Coalition.

She is the immediate past president of the Michigan State Medical Society and has held active leadership positions with the Michigan Society of Pathologists, serving as president from 1990-91. She is also involved with the American College of Pathologists and the American Medical Association.


Noted author and scholar William Breit is the E.M. Stevens Distinguished Professor of Economics at Trinity University and is an adjunct scholar at America Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. Previous appointments include positions at the University of Virginia, Louisiana State University and MSU, where he received his doctorate of economics in 1961.

Breit has served as editor for a number of professional journals, including the Social Science Quarterly, the Journal of Economic Issues, Research in the History of Economics, and the International Social Science Review.

He was a co-editor with Kenneth G. Elzinga, of the "Political Economy and Public Policy: an International Series of Monographs in Law and Economics, History of Economic Thought and Public Finance." He has also authored many notable publications including an article on market for the Encyclopedia International.

His awards and recognitions include sharing with Elzinga the 1977 Phi Beta Kappa Book Prize for "The Antitrust Penalties: A Study in the Law and Economics." He was also recognized as a Sesquicentennial Associate, Center for Advanced Studies, University of Virginia; a senior research associate, Thomas Jefferson Center for Political Economy at the University of Virginia.


Kenneth G. Elzinga has been a professor of economics at the University of Virginia since 1974. Previous appointments have included the Cavalier's Distinguished Teaching Professorship at the University of Virginia; a Thomas Jefferson Fellow at Cambridge University; Trinity University; University of Chicago and as a special economic adviser to the assistant attorney general, Antitrust Division in the U.S. Department of Justice.

Elzinga shared with William Breit the Phi Beta Kappa Prize for "The Antitrust Penalties: A Study in the Law and Economics." He also has written and edited many articles for professional journals including the Social Science Quarterly, the Antitrust Law & Economics Review, the Journal of Law and Economics and the Harvard Law Review.

He is the author of several books, including "Economics: A Reader and Murder at the Margin," a mystery novel. He and Breit created this mystery novel in which the protagonist uses economic analysis to solve the crime.

Elzinga, who received his master's degree in 1966 and his doctorate in economics in 1967, both from MSU, is the recipient of the Templeton Honor Roll Award for Education in a Free Society from the John Templeton Foundation. He is also the recipient of the Kenan Enterprise Award for Teaching Economics from the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust; the Phi Eta Sigma Teacher of the Year Award in 1992; and the Distinguished Professor Award from the University of Virginia in 1979.


Rick Inatome, chairman of Inacom Corp., a Fortune 500 company, has been instrumental in his company's growth into a major information systems provider. In 1989 he founded Computer City, one of the country's leading computer superstore chains.

The venture capital firm Inatome founded has invested resources and technology into creating market leaders in industries including entertainment and media, automotive retailing, and printing and communications services. In 1993 he became principal shareholder and co-chairperson of American Speedy Printing Centers, Inc., one of the nation's largest quick-printing chains.

He is chairperson of Liberty Business and Industrial Development Corp., Michigan's largest BIDCO, which has provided more than $450 million of growth capital to Michigan entrepreneurs. He is also a principle of II Ventures, venture capitalists; and co-president of Michigan Future Inc., a think tank of Michigan industrial leaders helping to advance a progressive vision of Michigan's economic future.

Inatome, who received his bachelor's degree in business economics from MSU in 1976, was appointed by Gov. John Engler to the Michigan Jobs Commission Board and to chair the advisory board of the Michigan Information Network, which enables Michigan infrastructure to access global information.


A career in broadcasting led to Chosei Kabira's current position as professor and vice president of liberal arts and member of the Board of Trustees of Showa Women's University in Tokyo, Japan.

His many professional accomplishments include leadership positions with the Okinawa Public Broadcasting System, Inc., and the Japan Broadcasting Corporation.

He has been instrumental in the leadership as executive secretary of the Hoso Bunka Foundation, the Cultural Foundation for Broadcasting. He has also served as instructor for Broadcasting Management Seminar, Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, with the government of Japan.

Kabira, who received his bachelor's degree in 1956 and a master's degree in communications in 1960, has published articles in professional journals about the broadcast industry and international communications issues.

His many awards and honors include the Distinguished Alumni Award, College of Communication Arts and Sciences at MSU. He is a founder and past president of the MSU Alumni Association of Japan.


John C. Kornblum has served as U.S. ambassador to Germany since 1997. Over the past three decades he has been the U.S. State Department's leading European specialist, having served in Hamburg and twice in Berlin, the second time as U.S. minister and deputy commandant in 1985.

Both Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush have recognized his skills as a negotiator and his desire to promote peace.

In 1991 President Bush named Kornblum as the top American at the 1992 Helsinki Review Conference. In 1996 President Clinton named him assistant secretary of state for European and Canadian affairs and special envoy to Bosnia.

For his outstanding service on the Balkan crisis, Kornblum won the Secretary's Award in 1996 and was name an honorary citizen of Sarajevo in 1997.

Kornblum received his bachelor of arts degree in history from MSU in 1964.


Richard Lord is an engineer, administrator and consultant specializing in immigration adjudication, and his professional experience includes serving as a member of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada in Montreal, Quebec.

Lord was principal consultant for Richard Lord International Immigration Consultants, Inc. At one time he was president of Canafric Development Corporation Ltd., promoting Canadian engineering in Africa.

His humanitarian involvement includes leadership roles at the Vanier Institute of the Family, the National Family Institute of Canada, and serving as a research consultant and community liaison officer for the special Senate Committee on Poverty.

His professional affiliations include membership in the order of Engineers of Quebec, the MSU Chemical Engineering Alumni Board and the MSU Varsity Alumni Association. His honors and awards include the Service to the Community Award from the Royal Canadian Legion Hospital in Montreal.

He received his bachelor's degree in chemical engineering in 1953.


Donald W. Maine serves as chancellor of the Davenport Educational System, Inc., the largest independent college system in Michigan and one of the largest in the nation with 26,000 students.

While serving as president of Davenport College for two decades beginning in 1977, he spearheaded the college's growth from a two-year assoicate degree-granting college to a four-year baccalaureate degree college. In 1988 he launched a master's of business administration program for the college.

Active in community and professional organizations, he is chairperson of the Metropolitan Hospital Board and vice chairperson of the Metropolitan Health Corporation Board, a member of the Metropolitan Hospital Foundation Board, the Opera Grand Rapids Board, and the Salvation Army Campaign Cabinet. He is also a member of the boards of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce and the Grand Rapids Economics Club, and serves on the Grand Action Executive Committee.

Maine received two degrees from MSU - a bachelor's degree in elementary education in 1965 and a master's degree in reading instruction in 1971.


William H. Morgan is the senior executive vice president of Elias Brothers Restaurant and Big Boy International and a member of the Elias Brothers board of directors.

He joined the company in 1954, after serving in the U.S. Army. He worked his way from the kitchen to the executive offices, serving in every capacity of the restaurant business. He was the company's director of personnel for 17 years.

He is involved in the Big Boy Restaurant Franchise System, the parent company to more than 700 Big Boy Restaurants worldwide, as well as numerous stadium contracts.

Morgan's community involvement includes serving as founding director of the NCAA-sanctioned Cherry Bowl Football game and as a charter member of Detroit's new Motor City Bowl Committee. He was instrumental in bringing the 1982 NFL Super Bowl game to the Silverdome.

He is past president of the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce and of the Clinton Valley Council of Boy Scouts of America.

Morgan, who earned his bachelor's degree in social science from MSU in 1952, received the Michigan Restaurant Association Distinguished Service Award in 1998 and served as a director and vice president of the Michigan Restaurant Association.


Donald C. Sawyer is the president of Donald Sawyer Education Services, Inc. An MSU professor emeritus since 1977, he has held many positions with the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine, including adjunct professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, coordinator of outreach, Chief Anesthesia Section, professor of anesthesia, acting assistant dean and professor of small animal surgery and medicine.

He received his bachelor's degree in 1959 and a doctorate in veterinary medicine in 1961. His research interests include studies in subacute toxicity, anesthesiology and other studies for the relief of pain and suffering in animals.

In 1989 he went to Alaska to help recover sea otters injured during the Exxon Valdez oil spill and received worldwide recognition for his efforts. Following this experience he wrote extensively on his experiences and lectured on disaster medicine. He has written or presented many professional journal articles and research papers in his areas of expertise.

Sawyer's awards include the MSU Distinguished Veterinary Alumnus Award in 1992, the American College of Veterinary Medicine Anesthesiologists Founders Award, the Merck Agvet Award for Creativity, the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners Founding Fathers Award and the Award of Appreciation from the Michigan Veterinary Medical Association.


Since 1965 John T. Scott has been a member of the Xavier University of Louisiana art department where he is currently professor of fine arts. His teaching areas include sculpture, modeling, wood and stone carving, and calligraphy.

An accomplished artist, Scott has many commissioned art works and has had exhibits in galleries in New Orleans, Atlanta and Santa Fe. He has held recent exhibitions at the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans, the Kansas City Jazz Museum, Kennedy Center Library in Washington, D. C., and the Smithsonian Institute Traveling Exhibition in Washington, D.C.

He has been a visiting artist and teacher at numerous colleges and universities including Indiana University of Pennsylvania, the University of Georgia, Arizona State University, the University of Minnesota, the University of Massachusetts, Howard University and the Washington Project for the Arts in Washington, D.C.

Scott has also published works in Art in America, Artweek, the New Orleans Art Review, Art News, and other professional and popular magazines and journals.

He received his master's of fine arts degree in arts and letters from MSU in 1965.


Fred C. Tinning is the president emeritus of the College of Osteopathic Medicine in Kirksville, Mo., where he served as president for 12 years. Prior to that appointment he was the assistant dean for planning and program operations at the MSU College of Osteopathic Medicine. He served in other administrative and teaching positions at MSU, including professor in the Department of Counseling, Personnel Services and Educational Psychology in the College of Education.

Tinning was a member of the advisory panel to the U.S. Congress Office of Technology Assessments for the Rural Health Care Study and has had international consulting experiences with the University Center for International Rehabilitation, a federal center established at MSU by the U.S. Congress.

He served on a special task force to study medical school cost as the vice chairperson for the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Science Model, and as a representative for the Senate Fiscal Agency. He was appointed to the Governor's Planning Systems for Michigan in 1966. He was appointed by the governor of Missouri to serve on several task forces and commissions.

Tinning received three degrees from MSU - his bachelors in 1959, his master's in 1961 and his doctorate in philosophy in 1973.

The City of Kirksville, Mo., proclaimed Oct. 10, 1997, as Dr. Fred C. Tinning Day. He has also received numerous honors from his colleagues and the Missouri Senate and House of Representatives.


Shirley A. Weis is the chairperson of the Department of Managed Care for the Mayo Foundation.

Prior to this appointment she held other management positions at Mayo Foundation and Mayo Management Services where she directed all activities for HMO, TPA and medical management services for 115,000 individuals. Until August 1995 she was the chief operating officer for the Blue Care Network-Health Central in Michigan.

She served as manager of the energy department and outpatient services and emergency room nursing and supervision. She also has taught management courses for health care professionals.

Her professional affiliations include membership on the Minnesota Council of Health Plans; Minnesota Regional C. Coordinating Board, Region 6; the Lansing Community College Foundation; the HMO Association of Michigan; the American Association of Health Plans; and the American Managed Care and Review Association.

She received her bachelor's degree in nursing from MSU in 1975.

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