Teresa A. Szymanski, the first female chief of police in the history of the Lansing Police Department, has received the Ferris State University Distinguished Alumna Award.
The Ferris Alumni Association’s tradition of recognizing outstanding graduates is an important one, said Jeremy Mishler, director of Alumni Relations.
“This recognition helps to highlight wonderful examples of individual success and fulfillment that our students and fellow graduates can aspire to and be proud of,” Mishler said. “It also keeps alumni connected to the university faculty and administration in a way that supports Ferris through their expertise, professional networks and personal philanthropy.”
Szymanski, who earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice in 1984, received the award during the Alumni Association’s annual spring reunion in May at the Holiday Inn Hotel and Conference Center in Big Rapids.
Szymanski has spent her professional life serving the public good. She began her career in the 1980s as a uniform patrol officer on the Douglas, Wyo., Police Department, before accepting a position with the Lansing Police Department in 1987. She worked her way up through the ranks from officer to sergeant, lieutenant, captain and ultimately chief. In that capacity, she leads and manages the department, oversees the Special Tactical and Rescue Team, Capital Area Dive Team and Canine Unit, and develops community partnerships, among other responsibilities.
Her professional memberships that benefit the citizens of Michigan’s capital city include the Crime Stoppers Board, Project Safe Neighborhood Task Force, Lansing Area Safety Council, South Lansing Business Association, Ingham County Change Initiative Impact Team, Lansing Educational Advancement Foundation Lansing Branch of the NAACP and the Ingham County 911 Advisory Board.
The list of community events she has volunteered her time for is long and impressive. She has supported Greater Lansing Food Bank Empty Plate Fundraiser, the Learning Through Expanded Arts Program, Juneteenth Festival, National Night Out, Diversity Day Festival and the Mayor’s Labor Walk, Project Homeless Connect, No Senior Left Behind and many more.
Ferris’ Distinguished Alumni Award is given to alumni who demonstrate leadership and service to their profession, to society by promoting and celebrating diversity, to community and service organizations by promoting health and well-being of its members, and to the university. All Ferris alumni are eligible for the award.
Recipients are chosen by a committee of nine alumni representing the different academic colleges. Since 1961, they have had the challenging task of choosing from the outstanding graduates who have been nominated for our Alumni Association’s highest honor – that of being called “Distinguished.”