Redefining the Classroom

Alumni Association announces Fenlon Awards

Posted: April 22nd, 2005

April 21, 2005
FENLON LEGACY – Ann Hughes and Matt Merian are the 2005 recipients of the prestigious Judge James Fenlon Award for Student Leadership. Lake Superior State University’s Alumni Association presents the award to students who exemplify what it means to be a Laker. (LSSU Photo by John Shibley)

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – Ann Hughes of Grayling and Matt Merian Rochester Hills are the 2005 recipients of Lake Superior State University’s prestigious Judge James Fenlon Award for Student Leadership. LSSU’s Alumni Association presents the annual award to students who exemplify what it means to be a Laker.

Hughes is extremely active on campus. She helped revive LSSU’s pep band this year as a director and is touted by her peers as an outstanding resident assistant in Osborn Hall. As a Laker Connections mentor, she helps new LSSU students get involved with campus. She also plays in the Sault Symphony Orchestra. Hughes is completing his junior year as a double major in Sociology and Human Services, with an emphasis on social work and gerontology.

Outside of campus, Hughes volunteers for the Connections Program at Hiawatha Behavioral Health and helps out at Tendercare Nursing Home. Her summers are spent as a church campus counselor and as an LSSU orientation leader. In March 2003 she traveled to Juarez, Mexico, with His House Christian Fellowship to build a house for a family in need.

She is the daughter of Donna Pettyjohn of Grayling.

Matt Merian, a sophomore from Rochester Hills, literally runs circles around campus. As a member of the Laker track and cross-country teams, he does more than stretch his legs. He puts his energy into making LSSU a better place to live and learn.

Merian was the only athlete who volunteered to assist with LSSU’s annual Spring Cabin Fever run, which brought around 100 runners to the Sault on April 16. Coach Drew Ludtke says Matt does dozens of little things that improve the track team, and is first in line to support other Laker teams as well as student events and organizations. Merian is member of the LSSU Student Athlete Advisory committee and will assume the presidency of the group next academic year.

The Sports and Recreation Management major also volunteered for 2004’s Great Lake State Week and Weekend committee, where his ideas and energy provided a much-needed boost for the annual alumni and family weekend. Merian is active with Student Alumni Involved for Lake State (SAILS), the University’s award-winning student ambassadors.

Merian is involved with hometown events, such as the annual Heritage Festival 5k race. He has helped with Rochester Adams gymnastics meets, as well as with home, league, and regional meets for the last five years.

Matt Merian is the son of David Merian of Rochester Hills.

The Fenlon Award for Student Leadership is named for Judge James Fenlon, a member of the Michigan College of Mining and Technology (now MTU) board of control from 1957 to 1975. He was instrumental in advancing the Sault Ste. Marie branch from a two-year branch school to an autonomous four-year institution.

“Judge Fenlon was a driving force in the development of Lake Superior State University. But more importantly, he was an man who was admired for who he was, as much or more than what he did,” says Mark Jastorff, vice president for student life and alumni relations. “This year’s recipients very much reflect the qualities of the Judge himself.”

In a history of LSSU written by former President Kenneth Light, Judge Fenlon was recognized as a driving force behind LSSU’s academic expansion. “The appointment of Judge Fenlon added to the Michigan Tech Board of Control a man who was to have a profound effect on the future course of events concerning the branch operation,” Light wrote. “Judge Fenlon was an enthusiastic and dedicated supporter of the Sault Branch...and it was mainly due to his efforts that (LSSU) eventually achieved four-year status.”

Fenlon graduated in 1927 from Sault High School. After attending Grand Rapids Junior College for two years, he attended the University of Detroit. He was admitted to the Michigan Bar in 1937 and practiced law in the Sault until the early 1990s.

In 1957, he was elected to the position of municipal judge. He held that post until 1969, when restructuring of the court system replaced the municipal court with district court.

Fenlon practiced law for more than 50 years before retiring. The Michigan bar Association recognized him for being the longest practicing attorney in the state. He died March 13, 1996 at the age of 87.

To learn more about this and other awards sponsored by the LSSU Alumni Association, visit