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Top WMU seniors to be honored

March 17, 2006

KALAMAZOO--In the spirit of "March madness" and college basketball's NCAA tournament, this could be called the "final 47."

Western Michigan University's top 47 undergraduates will be recognized Thursday, March 23, at the 26th annual Presidential Scholars Convocation at the Fetzer Center. The "final 47" will be honored as Presidential Scholars, WMU's highest academic award bestowed on an undergraduate. The convocation, which is by invitation only, will begin with a reception at 6 p.m., followed by dinner and a program featuring WMU President Judith I. Bailey as the keynote speaker. Bailey's address is titled "The Power of One." Dr. Paul Pancella, president of the WMU Faculty Senate, will preside, while three of the scholars--Aliisa Lahti, Timothy Lechota and Molly Hines--will make brief remarks.

The Presidential Scholars Convocation is intended to celebrate the excellence of WMU students. It is sponsored by the Faculty Senate and the Office of the President. Students are nominated for the award by faculty members. They are selected on the basis of their general academic excellence, academic and/or artistic excellence in their major and intellectual and/or artistic promise. The students often travel and study across the country and overseas and are engaged in innovative and sometimes unusual research projects.

The achievements of all of this year's scholars are varied and impressive, and the three scholars who will address the audience are excellent examples. Lahti is a double scholar, having been selected by two departments, comparative religion and environmental studies. She has worked with faculty chemists on the development of performance additives for biodiesel fuel and traveled with comparative religion students and faculty to Japan, where they visited Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. Lechota, Presidential Scholar in aviation, has earned a degree in

aviation maintenance technology and a commercial multi-engine license and has worked as an intern in the WMU aircraft maintenance department for more than three years. Hines, Presidential Scholar in paper engineering, chemical engineering and imaging, has engaged in several internships and co-op programs, working as a management intern at TMG Sports Marketing in Auburn Hills, Mich., and a co-op position at Green Bay Packaging's mill division in Green Bay, Wis.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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