Outstanding Alumni: William M. Berkowski, D.D.S. and Keith B. Mayer
Impact, Summer 2003
Photo (top): William Berkowski (5th from left), winner of the Science Alumnus of the Year award, and his family at the Slide Rule Dinner.
Photo (bottom): Dean Leo Hanifin awards Keith B. Mayer the Engineering Alumnus of the Year award.
Every year, the College of Engineering & Science selects two outstanding alumni for its Alumni of the Year Awards, presented at the Slide Rule Dinner. This year’s honorees are featured below.
Science Alumnus of the Year
Over a period of almost 60 years, three generations of the Berkowski family have been active with the University of Detroit Mercy. So it seemed fitting that when William M. Berkowski, DDS (’74, DEN ’78), was named UDM Science Alumnus of the Year, he shared the honor "with my family, friends and those in the UDM Community who have contributed to the experience."
His father, Joseph (C&F ’51), started the family’s association with the University when he became a student in 1944, later becoming the University registrar and serving until his retirement in 1988; he received the McNichols Award and Registrar Emeritus status upon his retirement.
Berkowski and his siblings attended the University through the seventies and eighties. His children have continued the tradition by attending from the early nineties through the present.
"We all received excellent educations and almost every one of us has remained active with the school in some capacity," the Dearborn, Mich.-based dentist says. "University events often double as family gatherings."
Since receiving his bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1974 and Doctor of Dental Surgery degree in 1978, Berkowski has been a participant in and supporter of the University. While practicing general dentistry, he has held various positions including the role of adjunct associate professor and mentor within the UDM School of Dentistry. Along the way, he also has received a number of awards including:
He is a member of numerous organizations including the Michigan Dental Association, American Dental Association, Detroit District Dental Society, Detroit Dental Clinic Club-Prosthodontic Section, UDM Dental Alumni Association, Omnicron Kappa Upsilon Nu Nu Chapter, Pierre Fauchard Academy and UDM Engineering & Science Advisory Council. He previously served on the UDM National Alumni Board of Directors. Two of his four children are UDM alumni: Brandon (’98), and Kimberly (’99), a Chemistry graduate who was Valedictorian. William Jr., is currently studying science in the College.
Engineering Alumnus of the Year
Throughout the years, first as a co-op student earning his civil engineering degree and presently as a leader in his profession, Keith B. Mayer (’74) has found time to serve his family, church, community and UDM. He currently serves as president and chief executive officer of Giffels-Webster Engineers, Inc. and as a member of its board of directors. Mayer has been with the 100-person Rochester Hills-based civil engineering, surveying and urban planning firm since 1983. Giffels-Webster, a major sponsor of UDM's annual Slide Rule Dinner, was named the Co-op Employer of the Year in 2000.
Honored at the recent Slide Rule Dinner as the Engineering Alumnus of the Year, Mayer says, "This is without a doubt, one of the most gratifying moments of my life. I don’t believe that anyone really achieves anything entirely on his own. I am just a byproduct of the love, kindness, support and encouragement of others who have taken time out of their lives to improve mine."
Mayer started college at St. Bonaventure University, where his counselor placed him in pre-engineering because he had taken a drafting class in high school. Upon transferring to UDM, he entered the civil engineering program.
After receiving his degree, Mayer was an officer in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for four years (1974-1978). He served in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Frankfurt, Germany. In Frankfurt, he was responsible for all administrative duties and implementation of tactical, technical, nuclear, chemical and biological warfare training for a 200-member company of the 317th Engineer Battalion.
Following that, he worked as a design engineer and team leader for various firms involved in designing roads, airports, wastewater treatment plants and other infrastructure systems. His designs were implemented in commercial, military, residential, municipal and industrial facilities in the Mideast and South America as well as in the U.S.
Mayer has received awards for design and construction management on such projects as the Orion Veteran’s Park and Oakland Technology Park.
He serves as a member of various engineering societies, the Detroit Athletic Club and its Business Roundtable, and the UDM Engineering & Science Advisory Council.
A resident of West Bloomfield and father of three, he also has been active in Our Lady of Refuge Church. His son, Jason, was a member of UDM’s 2002 civil engineering class.
On coming to UDM, Mayer recalls, "I could quickly tell the counselors, professors and staff were committed to what they were teaching, and they truly cared about their students. They wanted to accomplish more than cranking out degreed engineers, and wanted to make sure that all their graduates were professionally, ethically and morally prepared to fulfill their roles in society. That tradition continues today."