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Trustees Approve Honorary Doctorates for Pickard, Hegbloom and Harrold

On Friday, Feb. 12, the Ferris State University Board of Trustees approved the awarding of honorary doctoral degrees for three distinguished university alumni – Vivian Pickard, Robert Hegbloom and Jeffrey Harrold. They will receive their honorary doctorates during spring commencement ceremonies May 6-7 on the Big Rapids campus.

“We are very excited about this year’s honorary doctorate recipients,” said Board of Trustees Chair Paul Boyer. “As Ferris alumni, they are extraordinary role models for our students, especially our graduating seniors who are just beginning their careers. One of our core values at Ferris is ‘excellence,’ and our recipients’ successes are concrete examples of what can be accomplished by striving for excellence.”

Pickard will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters while Harrold and Hegbloom will each be presented an Honorary Doctorate of Business and Industry.

Pickard graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Services Administration in 1977 and has dedicated her life to promoting multiculturalism, health and human services, and community and environmental development.

For 35 years, she has served General Motors in vital roles in human resources, finance and public policy. From 2010-15 she served as president of the General Motors Foundation and director of GM Corporate Relations.

Recently, Pickard was named director of the Detroit Community Partnerships. In this newly-created role, she is developing an action plan for GM’s support and presence in Detroit on key community initiatives, such as education.

Pickard’s extensive community advocacy includes service on the boards of Detroit Regional Chamber Foundation, Habitat for Humanity International, St. John Providence Health System and others. She was presented with the Global Community Award at the 2014 North American International Auto Show Multicultural Media Luncheon.

Hegbloom, a 1986 graduate of what is now Ferris’ College of Engineering Technology, has headed Chrysler’s Ram truck brand as president and CEO since August 2014. He first joined the former Chrysler Corporation in 1986 as a service and parts district manager in Washington D.C., and has held a variety of increasingly responsible jobs within the company, culminating in his current position.

In January 2015, he was named to MotorTrend’s “2015 Power List” as one of 50 leaders shaping the auto industry.

Hegbloom returned to Ferris’ main Big Rapids campus during the Fall 2015 semester along with a team from Ram, and engaged the campus through speaking events geared primarily to students in Ferris’ College of Business and College of Engineering Technology.

Harrold is Chairman and CEO of Auto-Owners Insurance Company, a Fortune 500 company based in Lansing, Mich. He joined the company in 1977 upon graduation from Ferris, where he majored in Insurance and Management.

He was named senior vice president in 1998 (life operations) and elected to the board of directors in 2003. Harrold also served as regional vice president of the Lakeland, Fla. region and vice president of the Michigan region. He became CEO in 2010 after serving as president since 2008, and was elected chairman in 2011. He has served as a board member for Junior Achievement of Mid-Michigan, the Insurance Education Foundation, the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) Property Casualty Conference Board, and the American Institute for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters.

Harrold was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012 from the Griffith Insurance Education Foundation and NAMIC. He is currently serving on the Leadership Advisory Board for Ferris’ College of Business, and Ele’s Place, a healing center for grieving children who have lost a loved one.

In other action, the trustees approved a number of items, including:

  • Authorization to pursue a dual-degree program with Hochschule Rhein Waal, Kleve, Germany, that would allow Ferris students who are Business Administration majors to earn a degree in International Business concurrent with earning their Bachelor of Science from Ferris. The program would also allow Hochschule Rhein Waal students to earn a degree from Ferris;
  • Addition of pre-kindergarten at New Bedford Academy in Lambertville;
  • Establishment of a new building site for Northridge Academy in Flint; and
  • Authorization to seek bids for four deferred maintenance projects at Kendall College of Design.

The next full meeting of the board of trustees is scheduled for Friday, May 6 in Big Rapids.

Last updated: 02-16-2016