MSUAA Awards distinguished Spartans


William Demmer wouldn’t be here without MSU — literally.

As the son of two Spartans who met at MSU in 1939, Demmer, an MSU alumnus, has been a Spartan his entire life, and last night, he finally was recognized for bleeding green and white.

Demmer was among 11 alumni selected to receive an award at the 66th Annual MSU Alumni Association Grand Awards reception Thursday at Kellogg Center.


Video: MSUAA Awards distinguished spartans

“Every Spartan works so hard, and we don’t take time to recognize all of the magic they have made in the world,” said Scott Westerman, the executive director for the MSU Alumni Association. “(Recognizing them) is the least we can do.”

Demmer was one of five people to receive the Distinguished Alumni Award presented to alumni who “obtain(ed) the highest level of professional accomplishments and who possess the highest standards of integrity and character to positively reflect and enhance the prestige of MSU,” according to the press release.

As the president and CEO of Demmer Corporation ­— a manufacturing corporation based in Lansing — Demmer said he believes he has an obligation to give back, like his father who also received this award a couple of years ago.

“When your family is so blessed, you have an opportunity, maybe an obligation, to give back to your community,” he said. “I couldn’t think of a better place to reinvest than Michigan State.”

Another recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award was Dr. Bonnie Knutson, the holder of three MSU degrees and currently a professor in MSU’s School Of Hospitality Business.

Knutson is an MSU alumna who couldn’t believe it when she first heard the news of being awarded such a high honor, and felt as if she were “knocked over by a feather.”

“(I thought), ‘Are you kidding me?’ Then it was shock and awe,” Knutson said. “I have been associated with the Alumni Association for a long, long time, and I know what the previous recipients have done in this world.”

Knutson said she stayed in East Lansing rather than moving to California and forgetting about her alma mater because by staying, she can help build the foundation for the next generation.

“The foundation of every nation lies with the education of its youth,” she said, paraphrasing the Greek philosopher Diogenes Laertius. “It’s my pleasure, it’s my responsibility and it’s my joy to help build that foundation.”

Kinesiology senior Sara Sherman, a member of this year’s Homecoming court, said it was very exciting to be in the company of great Spartans at the reception.

“They’re role models for our future,” Sherman said. “(It’s great to see them) change the world in our green and white way. They represent MSU and all it stands for.”

Also receiving awards last night were Warrick Carter, Albert Ratner and Yuzo Yagi accepting the Distinguished Alumni Award; Eli and Edythe Broad receiving the Philanthropist Award; Mark Hooper and James Tuman receiving the Alumni Service Award; and Henry Balanon and Daniel Redford being awarded the Distinguished Young Alumni Award.

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