May 10, 2013

Commencing on a Lifetime of Learning and Leadership

This week 1,280 Northwood University women and men—152 from the DeVos Graduate School of Management, 621 from our residential program, and 507 from our Adult Degree Program—move from the ranks of Northwood students to Northwood alumni. And while commencement marks the end of an education for many, at Northwood it is just the beginning.

In fact, our mission to “educate the future leaders of a global free enterprise society” reflects an understanding of the nature and purpose of life that is traceable to the origin of today’s college and university system in the Middle Ages. The focus then was on the cultivation of lifelong learning and leadership; on equipping individuals with the knowledge and skill sets necessary for functioning anywhere in the world. Commencement exercises earlier this week in Florida (May 7) and Texas (May 9) and tomorrow in Michigan (May 11) serve as reminders to everyone that this same vision is alive and well today at Northwood University.

In addition to awarding degrees to graduates representing a multitude of industries, specialties, and 42 different countries around the world, Northwood is honoring six leaders who exemplify the values of lifelong learning, and whose sphere of experience and influence spans global industries including automotive, communications, realty, politics, television and the arts. Each of our honorees is receiving an honorary doctor of laws degree and will be permanently recognized in our Gallery of Distinction.  They are:


  • Clyde G. Lear, founder of Learfield Communications, Inc., of Jefferson City, Missouri
  • Stephen A. Levin, chairman of the board of The Erin Corporation and Erin Investments, Inc.


  • Mark L. Reuss, president of General Motors, North America, in Detroit, Michigan
  • James E. Lentz III, senior managing officer of Toyota Motor Corporation, chief executive officer of North America Region and president and chief operating officer for Toyota Motor North America, Inc.


  • The Honorable Donna Arp Weitzman, former mayor of Colleyville, Texas
  • Martha Russell Tiller, CEO of the Tiller Company in Dallas, Texas

Of course, if not for the excellent people who serve as members of Northwood University’s faculty and staff, the “education and graduation” process wouldn’t be possible. While commencement is certainly a celebration of our graduates and our Gallery of Distinction honorees, it is also a celebration of each and every one of us who makes graduation, and thus lifelong learning, a reality.

Thank you for all you do for our students and graduates! Have a great weekend.


Keith A. Pretty, J.D.
President and CEO
Northwood University
4000 Whiting Drive
Midland, MI 48640