Alumni Association to recognize outstanding alumni at annual awards banquet

Lake Superior State University invites the community to help celebrate three distinguished alumni and outstanding friends of the institution during its annual Alumni Awards Banquet, part of Great Lake State Weekend, Nov. 2-4.

The banquet begins at 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 2, in the Walker Cisler Center. Tickets are available by calling 906-635-2831, or by going to for more about weekend events and to register online.

“Each year the Alumni Association is proud to honor select alumni who have excelled in their professions and engaged with their alma mater,” says Susan Fitzpatrick, director of LSSU Alumni Relations. “There are more than 34,000 graduates and former students of the Soo Branch of Michigan Tech, Lake Superior State College, and Lake Superior State University. It is our privilege to honor these three incredibly accomplished alumni.”

Alumni Award Recipients, 2018

Edward F. Smith M.D. is recipient of the 2018 Outstanding Alumnus Award – the highest award bestowed by the Alumni Association. Smith’s service to the Northern Lower and Eastern Upper Peninsulas hearkens back to the early days of the traveling physician, who made rounds to distant communities caring for patients while building long-term, personal relationships with them and their families.

Smith extends this tradition of personal attention at hospitals in Petoskey, St. Ignace, Newberry, and Sault Ste. Marie, while being supportive of the communities he serves through philanthropy and volunteerism.

Smith earned a bachelor of arts degree in biology/chemistry from Lake Superior State College, graduating cum laude in 1978. He completed his doctor of medicine at Michigan State University, graduating with honors from the College of Human Medicine in 1982.

With more than 36 years of diverse experience, Smith has earned professional privileges with Mackinac Straits Hospital, Northern Michigan Hematology and Oncology in Petoskey, McLaren Northern Michigan, Helen Newberry Joy Hospital, Mackinac Straits Hematology/Oncology, and War Memorial Hospital.

Smith’s research includes working as a fellow to develop and investigate thrombostatins. He spent joint research time with the Southwest Oncology Group at the Karmanos Cancer Institute, and the Community Clinic Oncology Program in Grand Rapids.

He was principal investigator for Northern Michigan Regional Hospital from 2007-2009.

Through all this, he still finds time to teach LSSU nursing students in their oncology rotation, and more.

“I have had the privilege of giving academic lectures to biology and nursing classes,” says Smith. “Our Oncology Department at Mackinac Straits Hospital has nursing students spend time with us learning about cancer care.”

Smith stays involved in the community and with LSSU’s alumni and foundation offices. He helped establish the “No Cancer Patient Left Behind Fund,” a financial assistance fund for cancer patients at Mackinac Straits Hospital. He created and developed a nursing scholarship/internship for LSSU nursing students at Mackinac Straits Hospital. Smith teamed up with the Sault High Blue Devil Hockey’s Board of Directors for “Pink in the Rink” events that support War Memorial Hospital’s Road to Recovery Program, which provides transportation for cancer patients requiring radiation treatments in Petoskey, Mich.

Smith has served on the Lake Superior State University Foundation Board of Directors since 2012. He and his wife, Jill, established a scholarship at LSSU to assist students in LSSU’s pre-med concentration program. The couple supported the South Hall renovation project, and continue to support the Center for Freshwater Research and Education, Laker Club, and the Fund for LSSU.

The Smiths have one son, Bradley.

This year’s Shouldice Professional Achievement Award goes to Julie Ann Vincent, M.D., who graduated from the smallest public university in Michigan to attain truly big goals nationally in the field of medicine. The award, established in 1994, is presented to alumni who have demonstrated significant success in their chosen professions. It is named in honor of the school’s first chancellor and president, who is considered to be the father of Lake Superior State University.

Vincent earned a bachelor of science in medical technology from Lake Superior State College, graduating summa cum laude in 1983, and was awarded her doctor of medicine degree by the Wayne State University School of Medicine in 1988.

“I had my first course with the late Steven J. Person,” recalls Vincent. “What a superb teacher! He made biology, anatomy, histology and all the many other courses he taught so exciting and interesting. By my last two years of college, I had decided to get a degree in medical technology. Dr. Person encouraged me during my senior year to take the medical college admission test (MCAT), which nudged me towards medical school.”

Vincent is now chief of the Division of Pediatric Cardiology and the Welton M. Gersony Professor of Pediatric Cardiology, both at Columbia University in New York. From 2010 to 2014 she also directed the pediatric cardiology fellowship program there.

Prior to Columbia, Vincent was an assistant professor of pediatrics and director of cardiac catheterization research 1997-99 in the Department of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and an assistant professor of pediatrics at Stanford University, 1995-97.

Concurrent with these academic appointments, Vincent practiced medicine at the Lucile Salter Packard Children’s Hospital in Stanford, Ca., and the Children’s Hospital of Michigan in the Detroit Medical Center.

From 2002 to 2006 she was director and attending physician of the cardiac catheterization laboratory at the Phoenix Children’s Hospital, where she was responsible for overseeing development of the first state-of-the-art pediatric hybrid catheterization lab in the southwest.

Vincent has written a variety of professional education materials and helped direct multiple clinical trials of various medical devices. She has authored or co-authored dozens of peer-reviewed papers as well as case reports, abstracts and posters, and continues to lecture and moderate at numerous cardiology conferences.

Vincent lives with her partner and wife of nearly 25 years in New York City.

The 2018 recipient of the Paul Ripley Award for Young Alumni is Erin Strang, LSSU class of 2002. Strang is president and chief executive officer of the Central Michigan University Research Corporation (CMURC) in Mt. Pleasant, a position she has held since 2010. The company shares space with an accelerator program that focuses on advancing economic development in the Great Lakes Bay Region.

The Ripley Award honors graduates who have enjoyed exceptional personal and professional success early in their careers. Paul Ripley was Lake State’s first Alumni Director and was a member of the Pioneer Class of 1946.

Strang played volleyball for LSSU from 2000 to 2002 and earned her bachelor of science degree in business administration with a minor in marketing. Prior to attending LSSU, she completed an associate’s degree at Glen Oaks Community College in Centreville. Currently, she is taking courses at Oakland University towards a masters of public administration.

“I graduated from LSSU with a solid business foundation that I have been able to leverage to assist entrepreneurs in their business strategy and development,” says Strang. “I am honored to be receiving the Ripley Award, as I am fortunate to have found my passion due to the education of my alma mater.”

As president and CEO of CMURC, Strang has had a direct hand in the creation of more than 170 companies – 84% of which are still pursuing growth, creating more than 490 new jobs, and investing $53 million. Her mandate includes a tech-transfer process to commercialize CMU-researcher technology and leading SmartZone District development in Mt. Pleasant.

Prior to becoming CMURC CEO, Strang served as director of operations in 2010. In that role she managed day to day operations for business development and business insights; recruited and retained entrepreneurial start-up tenants and affiliate client companies to provide industry, market, and feasibility analysis; and developed product, manufacturing, and supply chains.

Outside of her day job, Strang is chair of the Mt. Pleasant Area Chamber of Commerce, vice chair of the Michigan Small Business and Development Center, and a member of the CMU Senior Leadership Team. Previously, she served on the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance Board, the Mid-Michigan College M-Tec Advisory Board, and the Middle Michigan Development Corporation.

“Prior to coming LSSU, I remember debating on if I were to pursue additional education at all,” says Strang. “Looking back, I could not have asked for a better experience or better education. LSSU was a big part of the journey that molded me into the individual I am today, and I am honored to be receiving this award.”

Erin and her husband Jason Hughes have a 4-year-old daughter, Alexis.