WMU News

Demetrakopoulos, Simpson garner Distinguished Service Awards

Feb. 4, 2000

KALAMAZOO -- A substance abuse educator who has generated more than $13 million in grants and contracts and an administrator who recently retired after more than 34 years of service to the University have been selected as recipients of Western Michigan University's 1999 Distinguished Service Awards.

George H. "Yorgo" Demetrakopoulos, former assistant to the dean in the College of Arts and Sciences, and Dr. C. Dennis Simpson, director of the Specialty Program in Alcohol and Drug Abuse and professor of community health services, will receive their awards at the University's annual Academic Convocation held at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 8, at the Dalton Center Recital Hall.

The two were chosen from campuswide nominations based on such criteria as: service through innovative and effective programs; service in areas that contribute to the growth and stature of the University; and service that extends the impact and presence of the University into the larger community. Demetrakopoulos and Simpson will each receive a plaque and a $1,500 honorarium.

Demetrakopoulos, who retired in January after 34-1/2 years of service, began his career at WMU in 1965 as an instructor in the history department. In 1970 he became assistant director of the Medieval Institute and three years later moved into the position of assistant director of academic advising in the College of Arts and Sciences. In 1978, he became an assistant to the dean for the college, overseeing academic advising.

During his tenure he was responsible for the development of several programs and policies implemented by the College of Arts and Sciences. Among these are the current guidelines used for transfer students, the development and implementation of the Liberal Education Curriculum, and the creation of a "pre-law" curriculum designation and advising system for students preparing to attend
law school. As assistant director of the Medieval Institute, Demetrakopoulos contributed significantly to the growth and stature of the University by making the biennial Medieval Conference into an annual event, increasing participation from 300 to more than 1,500 individuals from around the world.

In addition, Demetrakopoulos initiated several programs for minority students, including the development of the Kimom Bounazos Award that is part of the annual Martin Luther King Day Program. He also was instrumental in developing a plan for the College of Arts and Sciences to provide services to minority students that later became a state-funded program for that college.

"Yorgo's primary focus was placing the students first and he would do whatever he could to ensure positive benefits for our student population," wrote a colleague in nominating him. "During his years at the University, he has affected the lives of thousands of students. The students were always given the benefit of the doubt."

Demetrakopoulos also served on numerous committees including the University Academic Advising Council, the College Curriculum Committee, the International Student Committee, the Professional Concerns Committee of the Faculty Senate and the Nontraditional Student Committee. Among his professional affiliations were participation in the Slavic Committee of the Institute of International Area Studies, Medieval Academy of America, National Association of Academic Advisers and Academic Affairs Administrators. Demetrakopoulos earned a bachelor's degree from Michigan State University and a master's degree from the University of Illinois.

Simpson, a faculty member since 1978, is being recognized for his contributions to WMU's School of Community Health Services and the field of substance abuse services. Simpson is the director of the SPADA program, which provides education and training in substance abuse services, and has established himself as an expert in that field.

"Dennis has created and maintained a standard of quality for this academic program and its efforts in education, research, community outreach and the professionalization of the field of substance abuse services which is without equal," wrote one colleague in nominating him for the award.

When Simpson joined WMU, the SPADA program consisted of a director, 10 graduate students, and no grant or contract funding. The program now has several hundred students enrolled, with classes offered on campus and through distance education, and the graduate program offered at four of WMU's regional centers. In addition, Simpson has been the principal or co-principal investigator or consultant on nearly 100 grants and contracts amounting to more than $13 million to provide substance abuse research and services.

Simpson, who received an Ed.D at Indiana University and an Ed.S at the University of Louisville, has served as a consultant for numerous organizations including the AFL-CIO, American Council on Education, General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co., the National Association of Children of Alcoholics, George Mason University and the University of Wisconsin.

Simpson has held more than 30 elected or appointed positions including serving on the National Board on Clinical Neuropsychopharmacology, the Michigan Credentialing Board for Substance Abuse Specialists, the Michigan Drinking and Driving Task Force, and the boards of the Kalamazoo Corrections Center and Prevention Works Inc. He also was the founder and president for seven years of the Michigan Consortium on Substance Abuse Education, an effort to get colleges and universities in the state to develop and offer substance abuse education.

In nominating Simpson for the award, one colleague wrote that he "is a rare individual who moves like a whirlwind through his days, stirring things up, but accomplishing great things" and the success of the SPADA program and its graduates is evidence of his contributions.

"This is the thing which makes me most proud about Dennis and this program he has nurtured," the colleague wrote, "that he and our graduates have the ability to go into the world and make miracles."

Media contact: Marie Lee, 616 387-8400, marie.lee@wmich.edu

Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
616 387-8400