September 30, 2011

In Memoriam: Venita Walker VanCaspel Harris (October 3, 1922 - September 23, 2011)

“She was quite the sensation.” It was a remark heard from many on the occasion of her passing. And indeed, she was.

Venita Walker VanCaspel Harris was a leader of the highest order, a pioneer who achieved great success in work and life - many of her accomplishments were “firsts” not only for her personally but in life and industry as well, especially as woman business leader.

A diligent student, she was a Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society member and the first college graduate in her family, earning her B.A. in economics and finance from the University of Colorado.

In 1968, she started her career clerking for a stock brokerage in Houston, Texas and shortly thereafter passed the broker’s exam, something that proved to be a “watershed” moment in her life and career. With managers uncertain of where to place her in the firm, Venita sold them on the idea that she should tour the women's clubs and professional groups lecture circuit and host personal finance seminars. The move enabled her to serve the best interests of the firm and its clients while positioning her to pursue her calling: helping others successfully manage their personal finances.

Not content to rest on her laurels, Venita turned entrepreneur and launched her own stock brokerage firm, VanCaspel & Company running the firm for 19 years and becoming a certified financial planner, registered investment adviser, and the first woman member of the Pacific Stock Exchange along the way.

In 1975, she published Money Dynamics the first in a six-book series, including two that attained New York Times bestseller status. The book series catapulted her into public television where she produced and hosted “The Money Makers” and “Profiles of Success” which aired weekly for seven years and two years respectively in the U.S. and Canada.

The recipient of numerous awards she exemplified the Northwood virtue of community engagement by serving on several boards including the Northwood Board of Trustees and as co-chair, with her husband Lyt, of our National Women’s Board & Friends.

For her continued and persistent efforts on behalf of so many, including women business leaders, Northwood was honored to enroll her into the Distinguished Women Class of 1986 and the Gallery of Distinction Class of 2009 with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

While her shoes can never be fully filled, she left us a legacy of vision, determination and philanthropic engagement that will guide us as we endeavor to take up our share of the work she so generously did on our behalf.

Our thoughts and prayers remain with her husband Lyt, her family, and all those fortunate enough to have crossed her path.

Fall Homecoming at Northwood

Home can signify many things but whatever particular meaning it may hold the principle common throughout all of its uses is that of “belonging.” Hence, Homecoming at Northwood is a time not only to remember days past and renew old ties but also to “re-create” and reinvigorate who we are.

Michigan Campus

Timberwolf Homecoming on our Michigan Campus started this past Wednesday, September 28 with our Annual Black Tie Homecoming Dance at the Great Hall in Midland.  

The celebration continues today and through the weekend with several exciting events:  

  • Friday, September 30
    • Volleyball Alumni Gathering
    • The Inaugural Gala “A High Voltage Evening” sponsored by Northwood and Town & Campus – net proceeds will benefit the Town & Campus Endowed Scholarship Fund
    • Saturday, October 1
      • Alumni & Friends Tailgate – 9AM on Saturday until kickoff at Noon
      • Homecoming Football game: Timberwolves v. Ashland Eagles at Hantz Stadium at Noon – and we’ll crown the Homecoming King and Queen during halftime. 
      • Lacrosse Alumni Game and gathering, Saturday afternoon
      • Track & Field Alumni gathering, Saturday afternoon
      • Hockey Alumni Game and gathering, Saturday afternoon 

Following Saturday’s football game, guests will attend the Wolf Howl Alumni Reception and the 2011 Athletic Hall of Fame Awards which will induct the sixth Hall of Fame Class on our Michigan Campus. Honorees are chosen for their athletic ability, support for NU athletics programs, success, character, and their role as ambassadors for the University. This year’s honorees are:  

  • Joan (Frysinger) Bastianelli (volleyball/women's basketball)
  • Lional Campbell (men's track and field)
  • Bill Oates (men's basketball)
  • Jeremy Piggott (men's basketball)
  • Don Winger (contributor)
  • Girza Worthy (football)

All of our Greek fraternities and sororities are also hosting Homecoming events through the weekend, including:  

  • Phi Sigma Beta: 1970’s and 1980’s reunion
  • Tau Delta Rho: 1977-1984 reunion
  • Sigma Phi Epsilon: 1977-1984 reunion
  • Phi Delta Theta
  • Delta Zeta

Texas Campus

In Texas, our 70’s themed Homecoming week has been a “groovy” affair thus far. Alumni, students, faculty, staff, friends and supporters have participated in a number of fun events, including: 

  • A door decorating/office decorating contest
  • Intramural sports
  • “Get Down and Dirty” Mud Games
  • Jalapeno Eating Contest
  • Annual Haunted Forest Dinner

And more fun is on the way today and through the weekend.

Later today, we will host a Rave Paint Party, Crown our Homecoming King and Queen and host the 2012 Outstanding Alumni Achievement Awards (OAAA) Dinner. The OAAA are presented annually to alumni who exhibit the highest qualifications, including support and commitment to Northwood University and The Northwood Idea. This year’s Outstanding Alumni are:  

  • Mr. John Eagle (1972)
  • Dr. Terry J. Silva (1989)

The Annual Great Feast will follow tomorrow, Saturday, October 1, and will be followed by the 8th Annual Crossing Over Ceremony in which Northwood University graduates, students, colleagues and friends are inducted into Northwood “Knighthood.” Upwards of 250 people are expected to participate, 100 of whom are returning Knights who will greet and welcome their approximately 150 new brother and sister Knights into the ranks of the 1,500 Texas Campus Knights.

On Sunday, October 2, everyone will gather for an Alumni doubleheader baseball game. Game one will feature our “older” alumni followed by game two featuring our “younger” alumni in a match against our varsity men’s baseball team. Our recently retired Athletic Director and Hall of Fame member Pate Malcheski will get the competition underway at 12 Noon on Knight’s Field by throwing out the first pitch.

Northwood’s Annual International Auto Shows

Each year, over 600 Northwood University students in Michigan and 200 in Florida plan and execute – entirely on their own and without pay or academic credit – two of the largest new car outdoor auto shows in the U.S. And this weekend, September 30-October 2 marks the first of these two very important and impressive events.

“The Road to Innovation,” the 48th Northwood University International Auto Show (NUIAS) hosted on our Michigan Campus, will highlight the latest technologies in automotive manufacturing: Everything from green engineering to “cutting-edge” consumer-driven technologies. It is the largest new car outdoor event in North America. This year’s show will feature over 500 new vehicles, welcome 50,000-60,000 visitors and produce an estimated $2.6 to $3.2 million into the Great Lakes Bay Region economy.

Plans for the Northwood University Auto Show of the Palm Beaches to be held February 24-26 are well under way. Designated the official Auto Show for the Palm Beaches, this year’s event is shaping up to be one of the best ever. As senior director of Student Life, Adair Kaestner, noted the Palm Beaches Executive Board is “pulling out all the stops.”

“I am so proud of this year’s Executive Board. They have already created quite a ‘buzz’ on campus for the 2012 show; everything from securing cutting-edge cars for display during orientation weekend and recruiting a large and growing number of student participants to employing social media to promote and grow the event. Everyone in and around the Florida Campus is looking forward to it,” she explained.

“Hoops Mania” on the Florida Campus

On October 20th our Florida Campus will host “Seahawk Madness & Hoops Mania” our third annual event which recognizes our student athletes and their accomplishments and provides lots of fun everyone in the campus community.

Seahawk athletics teams will compete in a head-to-head dance competition – a highly anticipated event each year. Some of our teams will “roast” their freshman members while others will “serve up” their entire team. The Student Government Association will make sure everyone also gets their fill of fun and good food serving hotdogs and hamburgers and hosting various activities including games, prize winning opportunities and digital caricatures. The final act will be the official introduction of the men’s and women’s basketball teams and a dance performance of their own which includes choreography, costumes, and lots of laughs.

As with the last year’s event, this year’s is bigger and better than its predecessor with increased excitement and participation on the part of our students, staff and faculty.

Be Part of the Fun, Be Part of the Difference

I hope each of you will take some time out to join us for these memorable and enjoyable events. Even more, I hope you will be part of the engaged leadership that is growing Northwood University to new and stronger heights because of, and in tradition with, distinguished members of our community like Venita Walker VanCaspel Harris.

Have a great weekend.


Keith A. Pretty, J.D.
President and CEO
Northwood University
4000 Whiting Drive
Midland, MI 48640
989.837.4203 (phone)
989.832.9590 (fax)