Glen Oaks Community College News Article (generic - no featured image)

Glen Oaks to hold 47 th Annual Commencement Ceremony on Fri., May 8

Glen Oaks Community College will hold its 47 th Annual Commencement Ceremony at
7 p.m. on Friday, May 8, in the Glen Oaks gymnasium. Over 129 students will be walking in the
ceremony, with a total of 229 certificates and degrees being awarded.

Glen Oaks President David Devier will preside over the ceremony and will recognizing recipients of
several special awards including:

  • Distinguished Alumni Award – Terry D. Conklin
  • Fellows Award – David G. Smith and Ruth R. Perry
  • Adjunct Faculty Teaching Excellence Award – Patricia E. Jesaitis
  • Outstanding Service Award – Tammy L. Russell
  • E. J. Shaheen Chair for Teaching Excellence – Pamela E. Carrel
  • President’s Award – Madison Carlton

As part of the 50 th Anniversary Celebration of the college, a short video “Early Beginnings” will be
shown in which several college administrators, faculty members, and several student from that historic
first year of Glen Oaks are featured. From both perspectives, they share what it was like back in 1967
when the college first opened its doors in the old White Pigeon High School.

Dr. Patricia Morgenstern, dean of academics and extended learning, will confer the degrees and will
serve as grand marshal for the ceremony. Beverly Andrews, assistant dean of enrollment
services/registrar will announce the names of the candidates as they walk across the platform to
receive their degrees.

Vintage Brass will provide music for the ceremony.

Tickets are required for guests to attend the graduation. Each student participating in the ceremony is
eligible to receive up to eight general admission seating guest tickets. Requests may be made for
additional tickets by contacting Diane Zinsmaster at (269) 294-4233. Accommodations can be also
made for those requiring wheelchairs at this number.

The College holds graduation exercises annually in the spring. A listing of the graduates will be
available in June. Free parking will be available to all guests.

Background on award recipients

Distinguished Alumni Award – Terry D. Conklin
This award recognizes alumni who have distinguished themselves through professional excellence and
personal service. This year’s award goes to someone who is one of the greatest advocates of Glen
Oaks and a shining example of service and leadership. Terry Conklin is a Burr Oak native and high
school graduate. His high school athletic feats are those of legend. He attended Glen Oaks part-time
for several years working his way through and also playing sports at the college including baseball, golf
and track. He is said to have earned more athletic letters from Glen Oaks than anyone.

Conklin completed his bachelor’s degree at Grand Valley State University and began his career as a
teacher and athletic director at his Alma Mata, Burr Oak. He taught Physical Education, Psychology
and Sociology. In 1989 he entered into administration at Burr Oak and later at White Cloud, Michigan.
In 1993, he returned to Burr Oak as superintendent which is the position he holds today. Most people
think of him as “Mr. Burr Oak,” but he is also “Mr. Glen Oaks.”

Fellows Award – Two recipients David G. Smith and Ruth R. Perry
The Glen Oaks Community College Fellows Award recognizes a community member and/or institution
for outstanding service to and/or in support of Glen Oaks. The Fellows Award is given to an individual
or institution that has provided outstanding support of the college as evidenced by one or more of the

  • Long-term dedication and commitment to the college via direct service on the Board of
    Trustees, Foundation Board, advisory committees or other direct engagement.
  • Extensive community-level support for the college in such roles as K-12 leadership and
    collaboration, higher education partners/leaders and collaborations, service organizations
    leadership and collaboration, business/industry leadership and collaboration, community
    foundation leadership and collaboration or governmental leadership and collaboration.
  • Direct and continuing support of the college and students via contributions to the Glen Oaks
    Foundation or College including donations of equipment, software and expertise.
  • An individual who has provided long-term outward public support and/or direct service to the

David G. Smith, former professor and dean
(Posthumously – His family will be accepting in his honor.)
Dave Smith first served as a Glen Oaks faculty member in business and accounting. In time, he
was selected as dean of instruction because of his leadership abilities and broad college community
support. He was well known for his engagement with the county’s K-12 schools and served on
many committees helping to better connect Glen Oaks with all phases of the educational systems
serving the county. He is credited with developing the dual enrollment model where high school
students earn college credit. David also helped develop several new career technical education
programs including Machine Tool, Information Technology, CAD/Drafting and Design, and
Administrative Assistant. He also led three successful grant applications for federal TRIO grants
and the ten-year re-accreditation of the college by the Higher Learning Commission. Following his
retirement, Dave held significant positions including controller of Telemar, Inc., CEO or Arch
Workshop and executive director of the St. Joseph County Co-Op.

Ruth R. Perry
Ruth Perry is a very special person when it comes to all walks of life. She is truly a “servant leader”
as she always serves all she comes in contact with in each walk in life. Ruth attended Glen Oaks
and used her education to launch a very success career as a business owner of Perry Personnel
Plus. This important business in the region has helped place thousands in productive work, helping
hundreds of employers meet their needs.

Adjunct Faculty Teaching Excellence Award – Patricia E. Jesaitis
This award is new this year and will be presented annually to a part-time faculty member who
demonstrates excellence in teaching and who reflects the value of education to students of Glen Oaks
Community College. This year’s award goes to Patricia E. Jesaitis. Pat has a bachelor’s and a master’s
in English and she has taught Women’s Literature, College Writing and English Composition at Glen

Outstanding Service Award – Tammy L. Russell
This award recognizes employees of Glen Oaks for their outstanding performance and contributions to
the College. This year’s award goes to Tammy L. Russell. Russell joined Glen Oaks in 2012 and is
currently the director of institutional effectiveness and research. She has a bachelor’s degree in
psychology from Hope College, a master’s in social work from Western Michigan University, and she is
currently finishing her doctoral degree from WMU where her focus is on evaluation, measurement and

E. J. Shaheen Chair for Teaching Excellence – Pamela E. Carrel
(Please note there is a separate media release feature on Pam Carrel.)
The E. J. Shaheen Chair for Teaching and Excellence Award was initiated in 1984 with a generous
donation from E. J. Shaheen, one of the original Glen Oaks Board members. Shaheen, a college
professor, lawyer and business owner, placed a high value on education and spent much of his later life
in promoting high quality education and education institutions, including Glen Oaks.

This year’s recipient is Pamela E. Carrell, instructor of nursing. Carrel earned her LPN from Glen Oaks,
her Associate of Nursing from Southwest Michigan College, and her bachelor’s and master’s in nursing
from Goshen College. She has been with Glen Oaks since 2012, and teaches Fundamentals of
Nursing, Pediatric Nursing and Maternity Nursing.

President’s Award – Madison Carlton
This award recognizes a student who has been nominated by the faculty for his/her high achievement
in academics. This year’s recipient is Madison Carlton. Carlton’s cumulative grade-point average,
significant class contributions and the positive degree to which she performed in all of her classes, were
emblematic of her overall dedication to the pursuit of her educational goals and aspirations. She is
receiving her Associate of Science degree, is graduating summa cum laude, and is a member of Phi
Theta Kappa, the honorary academic international society for community college students. She is from
Three Rivers, Michigan.

The college is located at 62249 Shimmel Rd., in Centreville, Mich.