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Three executives awarded WMU's top alumni honor for 2011

by Jeanne Baron

Sept. 27, 2011 | WMU News

KALAMAZOO--Executives from broadcast, higher education and health care have been selected by the Western Michigan University Alumni Association to receive its most prestigious honor, the Distinguished Alumni Award.

The 2011 recipients of the award are: Morris C. Davenport of Avon, Conn., senior vice president and general manager of ESPN Radio; Keith A. Pretty of Midland, Mich., president and CEO of Northwood University; and Dr. Anthony R. Tersigni of St. Louis, president and CEO of Ascension Health.

The Distinguished Alumni Award was established in 1963 to recognize graduates of WMU who have achieved a high level of success in their professions. This year's recipients will be honored during an on-campus dinner. Tersigni will be honored in absentia.

The dinner will start at 6:15 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7, in the Bernhard Center Ballroom. Tickets are $40 per person. Reservations may be made through Thursday, Sept. 29, by calling the WMU Alumni Association at (269) 387-8777.

Photo of Morris C. Davenport.
Davenport, who earned a Bachelor of Arts from WMU in 1979, is responsible for all aspects of ESPN Radio content, as well as distribution, advertising sales and marketing initiatives for ESPN Radio's 700 affiliated stations and five owned stations.

A communication major at WMU, Davenport played on the Bronco football team from 1975 to 1979. He became an account executive with WQLR-FM in Kalamazoo upon graduating, then was hired by ABC Sports in 1982 as a production assistant assigned to Major League Baseball, college football, Wide World of Sports and boxing.

Davenport joined ESPN three years later as an associate producer and became a key force behind the network's critically acclaimed NCAA men's basketball tournament coverage and extensive women's NCAA basketball tournament coverage. A short time later, he was promoted to producer and began to work extensively on ESPN's college football coverage.

After several other promotions, Davenport was named vice president of remote production in 2006 and assumed responsibility for the day-to-day administration of non-professional sports on ABC and ESPN. He was appointed to his current position in August 2007 and now is responsible for all aspects of ESPN Radio content, including talk programming, event play-by-play coverage, podcasts and other online content, commentators and production.

Davenport has received two Emmys. His first--also ESPN's first Emmy--recognized his work on animation. His other honors include being named one of the "Top 50 Most Influential Minorities in Cable" in 2007 by CableWorld Magazine.

Photo of Keith A. Pretty.
Pretty, who earned a Bachelor of Science from WMU in 1973, leads Northwood University, a private, nonprofit, accredited institution that specializes in managerial and entrepreneurial education. NU has full-service, residential campuses in Midland, Mich., West Palm Beach, Fla., and Cedar Hill, Texas.

A former captain of the Bronco football team, Pretty was drafted by the Green Bay Packers during his senior year. After a short tenure with that team, he began teaching at Portage (Mich.) Northern High School.

He accepted a staff position in 1975 with the Michigan Legislature and while there, earned a Juris Doctor from Cooley Law School. Pretty joined the Amoco Corp. in 1980 and held several key governmental affairs positions with the corporation, including senior Washington representative.

In 1987, he returned to WMU as vice president for legislative relations and general counsel and later was named vice president for external affairs and general counsel as well as CEO of the WMU Foundation.

Pretty was chosen to head Walsh College as its president and CEO in 1999. During his seven-year tenure, he led the reaccreditation efforts, launched a strategic plan that resulted in a sharp growth in enrollment and concluded a successful capital campaign.

In 2006, Pretty was appointed NU's third president. He has formed a new leadership team of officers and implemented a comprehensive strategic plan. Key actions from the strategic plan included launching the DeVos MBA program at the Texas and Florida campuses and significantly enhancing the school's international presence.

Photo of Dr. Anthony R. Tersigni.
Tersigni, who earned a Doctor of Education from WMU in 1992, leads Ascension Health, the nation's largest Catholic and nonprofit health care system, with more than 113,000 associates serving in some 500 locations throughout the United States.

He was named COO of the St. Louis-based company in 2000 and assumed his current position four years later. Ascension, the third largest health system in the country based on revenue, prides itself on providing quality care to all, with special attention to the poor and vulnerable.

The veteran health care executive has held leadership positions in several organizations, beginning in 1978 when he was named vice president of St. Joseph Hospital in Mt. Clemens, Mich. Two years later, he was promoted to senior vice president/administrator, and concurrently served as president of the hospital's Preferred Provider Corp. and as vice president and COO of its foundation.

Tersigni joined Detroit Medical Center Corp. in 1984 as director of operations and COO of DMC Coordinated Health Care, Inc. From 1987 to 1994, he served concurrently as the CEO for Oakland General Health Systems, St. John-Oakland Hospital and Oakland General Entities Inc.

In 1994, Tersigni was appointed executive vice president of St. John Health System and one year later, was named president and CEO. St. John Health serves the citizens of southeast Michigan and is the largest integrated health system of Ascension Health.

Tersigni has been named one of Modern Healthcare's 100 Most Powerful People in Healthcare since 2006 and serves in leadership positions on several boards, including as chair of the Healthcare Leadership Council in Washington, D.C.