Redefining the Classroom

LSSU Board recognizes two longtime volunteers

Posted: August 4th, 2012

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – Lake Superior State University's Board of Trustees and the LSSU Foundation, during the board's meeting on July 27, recognized two longtime friends for volunteering their time to better the institution.

The board approved resolutions recognizing Sen. Walter North of St. Ignace and Ron Sober of Sault Ste. Marie for their service with the LSSU Foundation. The two are leaving the Foundation's board of directors this year.

"These two gentlemen have been dependable as volunteers for many years," said Trustee Patrick Egan. "While we're saying good-bye to them as they leave the Foundation board, they will always be invited and encouraged to continue giving advice and counsel to the LSSU Foundation."

"They've done so much for us for so long, we certainly want to recognize them today," said LSSU Board of Trustees Chair Jenny Kronk.

HONORED FOR YEARS OF SERVICE -- LSSU Board of Trustees Chair Jenny Kronk poses with longtime LSSU Foundation Board Chair Walter North after the Board of Trustees passed a resolution recognizing the former state senator for his years of volunteer service with LSSU. (LSSU/John Shibley)

A print-quality copy of this photo may be found here

North chaired the LSSU Foundation Board four times and served more than 20 years as a member of the panel. He was named as director emeritus in the board's resolution.

Both LSSU President Tony McLain and Trustee Doug Bovin applauded North's years of service as a member of Michigan's State Senate, from 1994-2002. During his tenure in Michigan's 37th District, North was instrumental in securing funding for a number of LSSU capital projects, including the renovation and expansion of the Crawford Hall of Science and Kenneth J. Shouldice Library, and construction of the Arts Center.

"He brings humbleness, distinction and honor to every role, including that as the recipient of LSSU's Honorary Doctorate in 2007," the board resolution states.

North, a Korean War Air Force veteran, was comptroller of the Mackinac Bridge Authority from 1966-1982 and executive secretary of the MBA from 1982-1993.

"I first met Senator North early in his political career before I worked at the foundation and was so impressed with leadership and his ability to relate so well to so many people," said Tom Coates, executive director of LSSU's Foundation Office. "Then to be able to see him action as our Board Chair gave me a first hand look at true leadership and a passion for supporting our University."

Sober, too, has been a member of the Foundation's board of directors for more than 20 years. In addition, he was a founding member of the LSSU Cager Club in 1982, and a member of the Alumni Association's board of directors from 1994-2001. He became a member of the LSSU Lake Ontario Society more than 15 years ago for lifetime giving in excess of $10,000.

"Mr. Sober has demonstrated exemplary commitment and financial support to the university…and has worked to strengthen LSSU," the board resolution states. The LSSU Alumni Association described him as a "dedicated and energetic LSSU advocate and benefactor" when he received the Outstanding Alumnus Award in 2000.

The Fowlerville, Mich., native started in the insurance business in 1971 and began his own agency in 1978. He has been honored for his accomplishments with several production, quality and convention awards, including runner-up as AFLAC's Northern Region Brokerage Agent of the Year. Sober is currently area vice president for Gallagher Benefit Services, Inc., in Sault Ste. Marie.

OUTSTANDING, TIMES TWO -- Former LSSU Foundation Board Member Ron Sober accepts the Outstanding Business Alumnus Award from Prof. Madan Saluja in this photo from the ceremony in 2008. Sober was honored with LSSU's Outstanding Alumnus Award in 2000 and recently received recognition from the LSSU Board of Trustees for service to the LSSU Foundation and the institution itself. (LSSU/John Shibley)

A print-quality copy of this photo may be found here

Sober, in addition to receiving the Outstanding Alumnus Award, received the Outstanding Business Alumnus Award in 2008 and, with his induction into the LSSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 1995, was noted for being Most Valuable Player in three of his four seasons, and continues to hold the record for most points (54) in a single basketball game.

"I never had the opportunity to see Ron Sober play basketball, but I would bet he had the same approach on the court as he has adopted as a businessman and a volunteer," said Coates. "He is a competitor who carries himself with class, dignity and supportive of those around him."

North received the LSSU Alumni Association's Donald and Catherine Finlayson Award in 2003.

"I will miss them both as active board members, but both made it clear they want to stay in touch and are there to help, which is very good to know," added Coates.

In other action at the July 27 meeting, the board heard comments from President McLain and reports on enrollment, campus life, finances and fund-raising.

In his report, McLain noted that while the university stands to receive a 3 percent increase in state funding this year, it will be many years before LSSU's state allocation is equal to what it was before Michigan's public universities took a 15% cut in fiscal year 2011-2012.

LSSU Vice President of Enrollment Services Bill Eilola said enrollment may be down slightly this fall but admissions staff are still contacting students who have been accepted but have not enrolled yet. He said many state universities are reporting that enrollment is down this fall, most likely due to economic trends. A definitive student count will be available at the September board meeting.

Meanwhile, LSSU is working to increase enrollment of Chinese students, many of whom have attended LSSU in the past, and is considering partnerships with other universities in Michigan and Ontario to attract more international students to campus.

LSSU is also exploring the possibility of offering more master's degree programs on campus, with plans to start degrees in English and public administration through Northern Michigan University this fall. Two classes in each degree will be offered this fall, and an informational meeting on the new master's degree programs is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 15 in room 278 of the Shouldice Library.

Finally, the board heard a report from LSSU Foundation Director Tom Coates, who said LSSU is working to raise its match for the $12 million renovation of South Hall into offices and classrooms for the new School of Business. He said several major donations have come in and the goal is to have $3 million in place by late fall. More information will be announced this month.

Coates also said the renovation plans for the Norris Center are still under way with a construction management group and architects coming to campus this month to look at plans.

In other business, the board elected officers for the coming year, with Kronk and Egan serving their second years as chair and first vice chair, respectively, and Trustee Scot Lindemann serving as second vice chair. LSSU Vice President of Business Operations Sherry Brooks is board treasurer and Kaye Batho of the LSSU President's Office is secretary. -LSSU-

CONTACT: Tom Pink, 906-635-2315,; John Shibley, 635-2314,