Mechanical Engineering '06
Ben Mitchell grew up in a devout household in the central Upper Peninsula of Michigan where emphasis was placed on helping others.
He traveled with his father to places such as Kenya and Peru on short-term medical missions. When he was in Kenya, a missionary explained that engineers have the greatest potential to influence the largest number of people. During high school, Ben participated in a youth mission trip to Tijuana. A result of the mission trips, his family decided to adopt three Vietnamese children when he was a junior.
All of these experiences had a great influence on Ben’s outlook on life. He decided to major in mechanical engineering and enrolled at Lake Superior State University. Near the end of his senior year, he decided to volunteer for the Peace Corps to help others.
His two-year commitment began in the fall of 2007 and took Ben to Burkina Faso in western Africa. He resides in the village of Tansila, population 3,000, approximately 10 km from the Mali border. His host organization is the local cotton growers union. It works cooperatively with other villages to improve and expand their production techniques. He serves as an agribusiness advisor as a part of the Small Enterprise Development program which helps create market linkages and assists with the advancement of business skills.
Alumni Awards and Recognition
The biography highlights featured in the Alumni Awards section are noted as of the year of the award. Many of these outstanding individuals have continued to make additional significant contributions to their profession, community and their University.
The Paul Ripley Award for Young Alumni
Paul Ripley served as the University's first alumni director and was a member of the first class in 1946. the longtime administrator held several positions during his tenure, including director of Career Planning and Placement, and director of College Relations. An associate professor of journalism, Ripley established the Laker Log alumni newspaper and published it for more than 20 years. The publication remains a vital link between LSSU and alumni today. Paul retired in 1987 after more than 20 years of service.
This award honors graduates who have enjoyed exceptional personal and professional success early in their careers. Those honored must have graduated within the last 15 years.
View the Paul Ripley Award for Young Alumni Award recipients
Kenneth J. Shouldice Achievement Award
Dr. Shouldice served as Lake State's first chancellor and president from 1966 until his retirement in 1983. During his tenure, Lake State grew from a two-year extension of Michigan Technological University to an autonomous four-year college. Enrollment grew from 700 students in 1965 to some 2,800 in 1983. The Norris Center, Cisler Center, Library and other campus projects were completed under his guidance.
This award recognizes personal and professional successes that serve as outstanding examples to LSSU graduates. The award highlights significant achievements of alumni who serve as leaders in our region, state and nations.
View the Kenneth J. Shouldice Achievement Award recipients
Judge James J. Fenlon Award
Judge James J. Fenlon was a longtime Sault Ste. Marie attorney and a driving force behind the establishment of Lake Superior State University. As a member of the Board of Control of the Michigan College of Mining and Technology (now Michigan Technological University) from 1957 to 1975, Judge Fenlon was instrumental in developing the two-year Sault Ste. Marie branch into a four-year institution.
This award is presented annually to one male and one female student at LSSU. The award criteria require a minimum 2.5 grade point average with significant involvement and contributions to the campus and/or community service as well as junior status or higher in the current academic year. Senior nominees must not be graduating at the end of the academic year.
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 served as a Chippewa County Board commissioner, city attorney of Sault Ste Marie, U.S. Court Commissioner for the Western District of Michigan, and Sault Ste. Marie Municipal Court Judge. He was active in community affairs, and was a life member of the Elks and Knights of Columbus.
Born in Hessel in 1908, 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 his career for being the longest practicing attorney in the state.
In 1976, Fenlon received the Distinguished Service Award of Michigan Technological University for his contributions to MTU and LSSU. The award was established to honor persons who have demonstrated their interest in the growth and development of the institutions through special personal effort on behalf of the University, or who have distinguished themselves in the Upper Peninsula, state and nation.
He died March 13, 1996 at the age of 87.
This award is presented annually to one male and one female student at LSSU. The award criteria require a minimum 2.5 grade point average with significant involvement and contributions to the campus and/or community service as well as junior status or higher (senior nominees must not be graduating at the end of the academic year).
View Judge James J. Fenlon Award recipients
Dr. Donald & Catherine Finlayson Distinguished Citizen Award
This award is presented to an individual who has enjoyed success in their profession and community, and who is a strong advocate of the University, its programs, faculty, staff and students.
The award is presented at the discretion of the Alumni Association Awards Committee with the approval of the President of Lake Superior State University and the Board of Trustees.
The LSSU Board of Trustees approved renaming the Distinguished Citizen Award in honor of Dr. Donald and Catherine Finlayson in the fall of 1999. The first Finlayson Award recipient will be honored at Great Lake State Weekend festivities, October 13-14, 2000. Congratulations Don and Catherine!
View Distinguished Citizen Award recipients '68-'96
View Finlayson Distinguished Citizen Award recipients '99-'13
Bud & Mary Mansfield Parents of the Year Award
Each year, the Alumni Association, Student Alumni Involved for Lake State (SAILS) and the University honors the parents of a current Lake Superior State University student. Nominations are solicited from the campus and must include an essay revolving around the theme, `The Greatest Gift My Parents Gave to Me’. The selection committee consists of faculty, staff, administration and a student. The award is named in honor of Bud and Mary Mansfield. Bud is a long time businessman and director of the Sault Area Chamber of Commerce. Eight of the Mansfield’s children attended Lake State. Most of their sons and daughters-in-laws are LSSU alumni as well. Bud is a Soo Tech alumnus and a member of the first class of the Sault Branch of Michigan Tech in 1946. The Mansfields still live in Sault Ste. Marie, and remain active in the community and with the University.
View the Bud & Mary Mansfield Parents of the Year Award recipients
The Outstanding Alumnus/na Award
This award honors personal and professional accomplishments and involvement with LSSU. This is the highest honor the Association presents. The award highlights significant achievements of alumni who serve as leaders in our region, state and nations. The first award was made in 1968.
View Outstanding Alumnus/na Award recipients
Honorary Alumni Designation
The LSSU Alumni Board of Directors may, when appropriate, designate friends of the University as Honorary LSSU Alumnus/alumna. The designation carries all of the honors, rights and privileges that are normally accorded to the graduates and former students of the University.
Athletic Hall of Fame
The Lake Superior State University Athletic Hall of Fame, established in 1995, recognizes individuals for their athletic accomplishments and contributions to the LSSU athletic programs as a student, coach or administrator.
Selection to the Hall of Fame is based on athletic accomplishments and contributions to the LSSU athletic programs as a student, coach or administrator. A nominating committee comprised of alumni, coaches, former athletes and other University officials make the selections.