WMU News

WMU honors 2001 Distinguished Alumni

Oct. 1, 2001

KALAMAZOO -- Western Michigan University's 2001 Homecoming weekend will kick off with the annual Distinguished Alumni Awards Dinner at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12, in the West Ballroom of the Bernhard Center.

During the event, the WMU Alumni Association will present its 2001 Distinguished Alumni Award to three outstanding graduates: Dr. James E. Bultman, president of Hope College in Holland, Mich.; Duane R. Dunham, chairman, president and chief executive officer of the Bethlehem Steel Corp., headquartered in Bethlehem, Pa.; and Howard A. Norman, a noted writer and associate professor of English at the University of Maryland at College Park, Md.

"It is with a great pride that we honor these three special alumni who have made so many contributions to their respective professions and who represent the excellence of Western Michigan University," says Nolan Fischer, president of the WMU Alumni Association. "The Distinguished Alumni Awards Dinner is a fitting beginning to the annual Homecoming celebration."

The Distinguished Alumni Awards, initiated in 1963, are the Alumni Association's most prestigious honor. Counting this year's three recipients, only 113 men and women out of more than 180,000 WMU graduates have received one of these awards.

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James Bultman has been serving as Hope College's 11th president since 1999 and brings to the post more than two decades of direct experience with the institution.

A native of Fremont, Mich., Bultman earned his bachelor of arts degree in chemistry from Hope in 1963 and returned in 1968 as a faculty member in the Department of Education. He served as chairperson of the education department from 1976 to 1982 and dean of the social sciences from 1982 to 1985. He also was head baseball coach from 1971 to 1985 and an assistant football coach from 1970 to 1984.

He left the school in 1985 to become president of Iowa's Northwestern College, which along with Hope, is one of three colleges in the United States with ties to the Reformed Church in America.

The Iowa school flourished during Bultman's 14-year presidency, balancing its budget each year, increasing its enrollment by 40 percent and its endowment tenfold, and raising more than $30 million for capital campaign projects.

Bultman also is credited with supervising several physical plant enhancements, including the construction of an intercollegiate athletic center that was named the James E. and Martha T. Bultman Center for Health, Physical Education and Intercollegiate Athletics in recognition of his leadership.

He received master of arts and doctor of education degrees, both in education, from WMU in 1966 and 1971, respectively, and began his long career in education working locally as a teacher, coach and administrator in the Portage (Mich.) Public Schools.

"Western's programs matched well my professional aspirations," says Bultman, who has fond memories of WMU professors such as William Coates, Harold Boles, Don Weaver and Roland Strolle. "I was very well prepared for administrative duties and for leadership assignments."

He adds that the University's ever-increasing stature enhances the value of having a WMU degree, and that being selected for the Distinguished Alumni Award has special meaning for him.

"To be recognized by your alma mater is very gratifying and also very humbling," he says. "This is an honor I will always cherish."

Bultman also received a Distinguished Alumni Award from Hope College in 1995; an honorary doctor of humanities degree from Keiwa College, a sister college of Northwestern College in Shibata City, Japan, in 1998; and an honorary doctor of letters degree from Hope in 1999.

He has served as chairperson of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities Board of Directors and continues to be active in a variety of state and national higher education organizations.

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Duane Dunham joined the Bethlehem Steel Corp., the nation's second largest integrated steel producer, in 1965 as a salesman in Buffalo, N.Y. Today, the Birmingham, Mich., native runs the company.

Dunham worked his way up the corporate ranks after being transferred in 1971 to the galvanized and specialty sheet sales division, where he first served as a salesman, then as product specialist, assistant manager and manager.

He was promoted to general manager of marketing services in 1986 and a year later, advanced to general manager, tin mill products sales and marketing. Three other promotions soon followed: general manager, marketing in 1988; vice president, marketing in 1990; and president of the Sparrows Point, Md., Division in 1993.

In 1999, Dunham was elected executive vice president and chief commercial officer of Bethlehem, as well as president and chief operating officer. Effective in 2000, he became chairman, president and chief executive officer.

"My most significant professional achievement to date is the privilege of leading the Bethlehem Steel Corp.," Dunham says. "We are the hundreds of thousands of men and women who, for almost 100 years, have made the steel that built, transported and defended America."

He adds that the time he spent at WMU has figured heavily in his career.

"Western gave me the opportunity to learn from others and investigate the possibilities that may exist as you think about life endeavors," Dunham says. "It was a time to define yourself and understand that your intellect and your drive are essential if you want to be successful.

"Western prepared me for my life and my work, both of which are incredibly rewarding," he continues. "I've worked with many truly talented individuals, and it's very humbling to be recognized by the institution that gave me my start. It's a special part of a gratifying career."

In addition to receiving a bachelor of science degree in administration from WMU in 1964, Dunham received a master of science degree in administration from Pennsylvania State University in 1967 and completed the Advanced Management Program at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business in 1991.

He currently serves as chairman of the American Iron and Steel Institute, the largest steel trade association in North America, and also is a member of its board of directors as well as a director of the International Iron and Steel Institute. In addition, he is a member of the Business Roundtable Policy Committee, a director of the Pennsylvania Business Roundtable, and a member of community organizations such as the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp.

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Howard Norman is one of America's finest and most versatile writers. He has garnered nearly every major national literary honor; had his work translated into 15 languages; and earned wide acclaim as a folklorist, anthropologist, editor, translator, short fiction writer, poet, novelist and children's/young adult's writer.

Many of Norman's books, teleplays and screenplays reflect his special interest in Canada's indigenous Indian tribes and his familiarity with several Inuit and Algonquin dialects. That interest developed after Norman, who grew up in Grand Rapids, Mich., dropped out of school at age 15 and moved to Manitoba, Canada.

There, he was exposed to Native American culture and the harsh realities of the "North Country" while working with fire crews and in museum apprenticeship programs. For the next 16 years, he lived and worked extensively in Canada and Greenland, gaining a reputation as a translator and natural history writer and researcher.

During that time period, he finished his high school equivalency as well as a bachelor of arts degree in English at WMU in 1972.

"I had intended to study only zoology at WMU, but quickly was drawn to the (Lee) Honors College and the fine poets and fiction writers on the faculty-Stuart Dybek, John Woods, Herb Scott," Norman says. "Most importantly, I was educated well in writing and Russian literature and just observed in my mentors the possibilities for a writing and teaching life.

"I received great advice," he adds, "especially from John Woods, who always said: 'Just write-every day.' Simple, direct, apt advice--always correct. The Distinguished Alumni Award permanently connects me, now, to a formative and enthusiastic and wonderful time in my life."

After graduation, Norman received a master of arts degree from the Folklore Institute at Indiana University in 1974 and accepted a three-year fellowship at the University of Michigan. From 1986 to 1990, he served as professor of ethnology at the Center for Northern Studies in Wolcott, Vt., and since 1987, has taught creative writing in the University of Maryland's master of fine arts program.

Norman has been selected for a Whiting Award, Lannan and Guggenheim fellowships, a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, three National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, the Columbia University Translation Award, and the Harold Morton Landon Prize in translation.

His first three novels-"The Northern Lights," "The Bird Artist" and "The Museum Guard"-were finalists for the National Book Award, with "The Bird Artist" becoming an international best seller and now in production as a feature film.

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Media contact: Jeanne Baron, 616 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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