MSUToday
Published: March 25, 2019

Distinguished Spartan alumni Cousins and Whitmer to speak at commencements

Contact(s): Emily Guerrant University Spokesperson office: 517-355-6560 emilyg@msu.edu

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will speak at Michigan State University’s advanced degree graduation ceremony May 3 and receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

In addition, former Spartan quarterback Kirk Cousins, now with the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings, will receive an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree and speak at the May 3 undergraduate convocation.

“Michigan State is proud to welcome home two distinguished alumni who personify the cherished Spartan qualities of service and leadership in their respective fields,” said MSU Acting President Satish Udpa. “Both Gov. Whitmer and Kirk Cousins have earned national acknowledgment of those qualities and are sure to be inspirational speakers for our graduates.”

The convocation will be held at 1 p.m. and the advanced degree ceremony will be held at 3:30 p.m., both at the Jack Breslin Student Events Center, 534 Birch Road. Commencement ceremonies will be live-streamed and can be watched via MSU’s commencement website. Twitter users are invited to follow them using #MSUGrad19.

William Demmer, CEO of Demmer Holdings Inc., will receive an honorary Doctor of Business degree at the undergraduate convocation. Reimund Neugebauer, president of German research organization Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, will receive an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree during the advanced degree ceremony.

For the safety of attendees, no bags or purses will be allowed in Breslin Center for any commencement ceremonies. Cameras and camcorders are permitted, but cases are prohibited. No food or beverages — including bottled water — will be allowed, and this applies to graduates, guests and faculty. Breslin Center will offer a limited concessions menu during the ceremonies. Additional prohibited items include noisemakers, selfie sticks, pets, signs and weapons of any form. Breslin Center is a smoke-free facility.

Metal detectors will screen all attendees, so please plan accordingly for processing.

Biographies of the speakers and honorary degree recipients are below.

Kirk Cousins
Cousins is the starting quarterback of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings. He was drafted to the NFL in 2012 after playing on MSU’s football team from 2009-11.

Born in Barrington, Ill., Cousins earned an undergraduate degree from MSU.

William Demmer
Demmer is the president and CEO of Demmer Holdings Inc., a manufacturing business headquartered in Lansing. The company was founded by his father in 1951 to design and build tools, dies and special machinery for the auto and aerospace industries. Demmer led the company’s diversification into the defense industry, developing and manufacturing protective heavy armor systems.

Demmer earned an undergraduate degree from the MSU College of Engineering. He is a recipient of the Claude E. Erickson Distinguished Alumni Award as well as an Honorary Alumnus Award from the College of Natural Resources.

Reimund Neugebauer
Neugebauer became president of Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft in 2012. A founding member of the company, he previously served as director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Form Technology. Neugebauer was the dean of mechanical engineering and director of the Institute of Machine Tools and Production Processes at Technische Universitat Chemnitz.

Born in Thuringia, Germany, Neugebauer earned an undergraduate degree and doctorate in mechanical engineering from Technische Universitat Dresden.

Gretchen Whitmer
Whitmer was elected Michigan’s 49th governor in November 2018. A Democrat, she served as a Michigan state representative from 2001-06 and a Michigan state senator from 2006-15. She also was interim Ingham County Prosecutor in 2016.

Whitmer has taught at MSU and the University of Michigan. Born in Grand Rapids, she earned an undergraduate degree from MSU and is a graduate of the MSU College of Law, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude.