ALMA — The Alma College Advancement Office this month announced winners of the 2021 Alumni Awards in five areas, spanning multiple generations of Alma Scots.
The winners — Shelley (Behring) Bausch ’88, Stephen Meyer ’80, Danette (Skowronski) Taylor ’84, Paul Burns ’81, David Braidwood ’11 and Ed Lorenz — will be honored as part of the college’s annual Homecoming, Oct. 1-3.
“We’re so proud of our esteemed Alumni Award winners for their achievements in their careers and communities. They are a point of pride for all of us here at Alma College,” said Sherie Veramay, senior director of planned giving and advancement operations. “It will be a thrill to honor them as we return to an in-person ceremony this year.”
Distinguished Alumni Award
This is the highest honor presented to alumni. It recognizes those who have brought distinction to the college through their professions, set strong examples for others, and served their communities through personal accomplishments that enhance the prestige of the college.
Shelley (Behring) Bausch ’88
Bausch came to Alma College for its emphasis on the liberal arts, which prepares students to become “students for life.” In her long, successful career as a business executive, she has found those skills to come in handy, time and time again.
“I am able to do the things I do because I learned how to think — I learned how to integrate learnings from psychology, philosophy, economics, chemistry, business management, math, literature, biology — and we need more integrative and critical thinking in our world today,” Bausch said.
Bausch, who earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and business administration from Alma College in 1988, is a senior vice president at Axalta Coating Systems. She is responsible for creating a sustainable growth business accelerating market positions geographically, as well as in the industrial markets, driving optimization of the foundational business and integration of historic acquisitions across Europe, Asia, and the Americas.
Prior to this, she served as president of Carlisle Fluid Technologies, vice president of global industrial coatings at PPG Industries and held many roles at Dow Corning Corporation.
Stephen Meyer ’80
Meyer’s parents, the late Stephen and Helen Meyer, were both involved with Alma College throughout their lives — the elder Stephen Meyer as a faculty member and campus administrator, and Helen as a community volunteer and philanthropist.
The younger Stephen Meyer, who earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology in 1980, has continued their legacy. He served as chair of the college’s Board of Trustees from 2012-15 and provided counsel in the development of the Executive-in-Residence program. He and wife Susan H. Meyer ’83 are also involved in various philanthropic activities at Alma.
“I feel some responsibility to retain, expand and grow the vision that my parents had when they first arrived in Alma in the early 1950s — to see Alma serve the needs of students in the local region and beyond so they can all achieve their potential,” Meyer said.
Meyer is the former president, chief executive officer and director of Welch Allyn, Inc., a privately-held developer, manufacturer and marketer of frontline care medical devices and diagnostic solutions. Over 30-plus years, Meyer held a series of senior leadership roles in a variety of areas, from international sales and marketing to product development, operations and general management.
This award is presented to alumni for their loyalty and service to Alma College and the college’s Alumni Association. It is named in memory of George Hebert, a 1920 alumnus whose love of Alma College and work on behalf of the institution was an inspiration to all alumni.
Taylor, a double major in mathematics and physics during her time at Alma, has helped connect students with real-world opportunities since leaving the college.
In 2019, Taylor helped coordinate a visit to Henry Ford Hospital West Bloomfield for pre-health professions students that included a panel session with the hospital chief of staff, head of physical therapy, head of nursing, head of occupational therapy and several other hospital personnel. Taylor also served as a guest lecturer for the Plaid Returns: Strategic Leadership spring term course. She continually agrees to conduct personal outreach to prospective students who express interest in medicine, neuroscience or STEM fields.
“When I was a student at Alma, there were many professors and administrators who took an interest in me and made sure that I was given the support I needed. While I’m not a faculty member, I can help students answer some questions they might have — perhaps better answer those questions because I’m not a faculty member and have a different perspective and experience,” Taylor said. “I think Alma was a terrific foundation for my subsequent education and work experience, and I’d like others to have the same success I’ve enjoyed.”
Taylor is a neurologist specializing in the treatment of patients with Parkinson’s disease. She currently works as the medical director of the movement disorders program at the Hauenstein Neuroscience Center in Grand Rapids.
This award is presented to a graduate who believes in Alma College and has assisted with student recruitment, provided career steps to students or served on a college council or board. It is named in honor of Art ’38 and Carra (Jones) ’42 Smith.
Paul Burns ’81
Burns, a double major in biology and chemistry during his time at Alma, is a senior physician manager at Dow Chemical Company. Among other roles at Dow, he is the global COVID-19 pandemic coordinator and clinical services leader. Prior to his time at Dow, Burns worked in a private family medical practice and in a hospital emergency room.
Burns served on the Alma College Parent and Family Board from 2016-19. He has also volunteered at numerous admission visit days as a host and as a parent panel participant, and for move-in day and commencement. At the outset of the global COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, Burns provided an on-campus presentation regarding the coronavirus.
“Alma has a unique position in the middle of Michigan, a great place to learn and experience new opportunities. I believe Alma provides a more one-on-one learning opportunity to students and helps mold students to serve their communities and families well,” Burns said.
Young Alumni Award
The award recognizes alumni of the past five to 15 years who are following through on the values of Alma College while attaining a high level of professional accomplishment and volunteer service.
David Braidwood ’11
Braidwood initially chose to attend Alma College because of its exceptional acceptance rate into medical school. But because of the perspective of thought Alma provides, Braidwood pivoted and ultimately thrived in an entirely different career path.
Braidwood is a relationship manager for high growth talent solutions at LinkedIn. His prior experience was a key account manager with Minth Group, an automotive component manufacturer; and a talent acquisition and account manager for Continental.
“Often when we leave an experience, college included, we don’t fully realize the impact it will have on our lives,” Braidwood said. “My time at Alma continues to influence my trajectory, my priorities and many of my personal characteristics for the better.”
The parade grand marshal for Alma College Homecoming is a figurehead who represents the essence of Alma College, as well as being a draw for alumni to return to campus.
It is entirely possible that no other professor in the history of Alma College has covered as much ground as Lorenz.
Lorenz worked at Alma from 1989 to 2018 as the Reid-Knox Professor of History and Political Science, as well as director of the college’s Public Affairs Institute. Together with wife Marilyn, Lorenz took students on more than a dozen trips to Mexico and multiple visits to sites of conflict and development of international law in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and Switzerland.
They also worked with Alma students to host conferences on international law in Chicago and Washington and two internationally recognized environmental health conferences on campus.
Lorenz received the Barlow Award for Faculty Excellence three times and on several occasions was voted the Outstanding Faculty in the Social Sciences. For most of his time at Alma, he advised the college’s Amnesty International chapter.
“As a historian, I don’t want to be too present-minded and say we live in the most perilous times of the college’s history. But I also know we face major challenges, from the basic financial ones coming off the pandemic, to the intellectual ones,” Lorenz said. “Consequently, all of us need to renew a commitment, as the college mission statement says, to ‘think critically, serve generously, lead purposefully and live responsibly as stewards of the world (we) bequeath to future generations.’”