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April 17, 2019

A wide shot of the entire room during the Alumni Achievement Spirit Awards.On Friday, April 12, Detroit Mercy honored eight special alumni during the annual Alumni Achievement Spirit Awards. More than 280 people attended the awards gala and dinner celebration, which took place in the Ballroom of the Student Union on the McNichols campus.

Each year, the University honors alumni from each of its schools and colleges for an Alumni Achievement Spirit Award. These honorees are leaders in their fields and have made significant contributions in their professions and to their companies.

This year’s winners of Alumni Achievement Spirit Awards are as follows:

John Lewis, ’74, Retired, Vice Chairman, Comerica, Inc. — College of Business Administration — Lewis began his business career in 1970 with Comerica Bank. For more than 36 years, he helped Comerica become a leading banking institution.

He completed his career at Comerica as vice chairman and director of Comerica Incorporated and Comerica Bank, and as a member of the management policy committee and management council. During his career, he was also responsible for the Individual and Investment Bank divisions and Comerica’s expansion into California, Texas and Florida. He then served as managing director of the investment banking firm of Donnelly Penman & Partners.

Lewis has dedicated many hour of civic leadership by serving on the boards of businesses like Flagstar Bankcorp and Flagstar Bank; arts organizations like the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Stratford Festival of America; civic organizations such as the Community Foundation for Southeastern Michigan and New Detroit, Inc.; and healthcare institutions such as the Greater Detroit Area Health Council and Beaumont Health System.

He has also served on the University of Detroit Mercy Board of Trustees since 2005 and as chairman from 2010 through 2017.

Richard Kunnath ’71, President, Charles Pankow Foundation — College of Engineering & Science — Kunnath’s career, which has taken him across the United States, started with a position at Mobil Oil Corp. in Cleveland, where he had interned four semesters as a civil engineering student during his undergraduate studies at University of Detroit.

This position led to opportunities in Cleveland, followed by a position with BASF that took him to New Jersey. After New Jersey, he became a project engineer on commercial projects for Charles Pankow Builders, which led him to Hawaii. He has worked in many positions at Pankow since that first job in 1979, including service at the company’s San Francisco office and its headquarters in Pasadena. He retired in 2015 after serving 12 years as CEO and chairman of the board. Though he lived across the country, he maintained his ties to Detroit Mercy, serving on the dean’s advisory council and participated in the co-op program for civil engineering undergraduates.

He is currently chairman of the boards of the Pankow Foundation and HMC Architects, the largest healthcare and education-focused design practice in California.

Janet Robinson ’69, Provost Emerita, Lourdes College — College of Health Professions and the McAuley School of Nursing — Robinson is a leader in nursing, education and community service.

She started on this remarkable path at Mount Carmel Mercy Hospital in Detroit upon graduation from Mercy College of Detroit. She entered higher education and taught at nursing schools in Oklahoma and at Mercy College of Detroit before moving to Ohio, where she began a long career at Lourdes College as both faculty and an administrator.

She served as associate director of curriculum and instruction, professor, associate dean, vice president for academic affairs, provost and interim president at Lourdes. In her many roles, she helped the university nearly double its enrollment, added new degrees and graduate programs, increased the size and improved the quality of faculty, established the university’s first inter-collegiate sports program and paved the way for the construction of the first three buildings to be built on Lourdes’ campus in 40 years.

Upon retirement, she was granted the title Provost Emeritus. She is a founding member and trustee of Compassion Health Toledo clinic and has served on the boards of healthcare and educational organizations.

Nancy Glen ’86 and Ralph McDowell ’86, attorneys — School of Law — This year, Detroit Mercy Law selected a husband-wife team that have made a difference in their communities. 

Nancy Glen’s remarkable career began in labor arbitration and included construction litigation and real estate law before taking time off to raise children and perform community volunteer work. She is the director of Customer Happiness for ardentCause L3C, a Troy, Mich.-based technology company that works with the nonprofit sector.

Ralph McDowell is one of Michigan’s most highly respected banking, bankruptcy and creditor-debtor rights attorneys, practicing with Bodman, PLC in Detroit since 1986. His work has earned him accolades in leading journals, including “Chambers USA” and “The Best Lawyers in America,” which has awarded him Lawyer of the Year several times.

Together, Glen and McDowell are active in professional, civic and charitable organizations, sharing their expertise and their time. They have three children and recently established the Ralph E. McDowell and Nancy A. Glen Expendable Scholarship Fund to benefit students of Detroit Mercy Law who demonstrate financial needs.

Arlyce Seibert ’71, Retired Director of Schools, Cranbrook Schools  — College of Liberal Arts & Education — Seibert is the face and heart of Cranbrook Schools for generations of students. She began a 47-year career as a history teacher in 1971, became department chair, adviser, then moved into administration first as head of Cranbrook Kingswood Upper School and, in 1986, director of Cranbrook Schools. She retired in July.

During her tenure, she spearheaded many initiatives for which the private educational community is known. These include the construction of a separate girls’ middle school, new locker facilities for student-athletes and an ice arena to accommodate girls’ hockey. Under her leadership, Cranbrook Schools became a testing site for curriculum ideas from the Edgerton Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the only such partnership in the Midwest.

She was named an outstanding head of school for her transformative leadership by the Klingenstein Center for Independent School Education at Columbia University and is a past chair of the board of directors for the Independent Schools Association of the Central States.

Kathleen Reehil ’67, Retired, Workplace Strategist, Herman Miller — School of Architecture — Reehil, AIA, is one of the first female graduates of the School of Architecture after it became accredited as independent from the College of Engineering & Science. She has enjoyed a stellar career that concluded in 2009 at Herman Miller.

Previously, she was a firm leader at Smith Group in Detroit as director of Interior Design, a senior associate at Gensler and served as architecture and design manager for Knoll, Inc. She played important roles on many award-winning projects, including General Motors’ global headquarters at the Renaissance Center, the DaimlerChrysler Technology Center in Auburn Hills, the Defense Intelligence Agency Headquarters in Washington, D.C., and Domino’s Farms in Ann Arbor.

She is also one of only a few females to serve on the State Board of Architects, a body that regulates the practice of architecture.

Reehil has established an endowed scholarship for the School of Architecture to honor her late husband, Paul, who served as an adjunct professor in the School for many years.

Allan Warnick, D.D.S. ’64, Chief Forensic Odontologist, Wayne County ­— School of Dentistry — Warnick was first exposed to the field of forensic dentistry when serving in the Dental Corps of the U.S. Air Force after earning his D.D.S., helping identify flight crews in airplane crashes.

He opened a private practice in Livonia in 1966, which he operated until he retired 40 years later. During this time, he earned a certificate in forensic odontology from the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington, D.C. He worked with the Wayne County Medical Examiner’s Office for many years before becoming the office’s chief dental consultant.

Warnick joined the Medical Examiner’s office and for nearly 20 years was chief dental consultant, performing more than 1,000 identifications. In 1986, he established the Michigan Dental Association’s Forensic Dental Identification Team, which he led until 2015. He helped establish similar teams across the country and led a dental team that worked to identify those killed in the attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

He is a retired diplomate of the American Board of Forensic Odontology, a fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and coordinated the undergraduate and graduate forensic dental programs at University of Detroit Mercy’s School of Dentistry.

For all award winners, the heart of their career and life success stems from their experience as students at University of Detroit, Mercy College of Detroit and Detroit Mercy. To learn about the University’s annual Spirit Awards, please visit https://udmercyalumni.com.

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