OU to recognize honorary degree recipients at spring commencement ceremonies

icon of a calendarApril 5, 2024

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OU to recognize honorary degree recipients at spring commencement ceremonies
Bruce Miller
Bruce Miller

Oakland University will present five individuals with honorary degrees in recognition of outstanding achievements in their respective fields during the university’s spring 2024 commencement ceremonies.

Bruce Miller has been selected to receive a Doctor of Laws Honoris Causa.

Bruce, along with his law firm Miller Cohen, PLC, have stood with the labor and civil rights movement as activists, advisors and attorneys for decades. Miller, who is 96 years young, has been successful in establishing the right of retired workers to draw workers compensation benefits. He represented employees in a case against the Ex-Cell-O company that took 12 years to litigate and resulted in awards to the plaintiffs in excess of $3 million. He won an award in an arbitration case for $14 million.

He has also won other cases in the millions. He has been involved in litigation throughout the country on behalf of unions and worker rights. He has been listed in Best Lawyers in the United States and is a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers. He has been honored by either serving or having served as General Counsel of the Metro AFL-CIO, the Michigan AFL-CIO, Labor’s Hall of Fame, The A. Phillip Randolph Institute, the Sam Fishman Memorial Scholarship Fund and sat on the Lawyers Advisory Panel to the AFL-CIO.

In the fight for civil rights as attorney for the Detroit Branch NAACP, he was successful in protecting citizens from police abuse, caused the first agreement for goals and timetables at First Federal Savings and Loan Association resulting in the first integration of the downtown banking community, outlawed the notorious Poindexter Homeowner’s Ordinance which was designed to segregate the City of Detroit and won many other fights and victories in the struggle for civil rights.

Standing with labor and the civil rights community, Bruce has held a number of positions in the Michigan Democratic Party: precinct delegate, treasurer 13th Congressional District; chairman, Wayne County Democratic Committee; officer at large of the Michigan Democratic Party and member of the Rules Committee at National Democratic Conventions.

He has authored law review articles, written a pro-labor column at the Detroit News until the strike and lectured on matters near and dear to the labor and civil rights community.

Bruce will be honored at the 2 p.m. ceremony on Saturday, April 27.

Nora Chapa Mendoza
Nora Chapa Mendoza

Nora Chapa Mendoza has been selected to receive a Doctor of Arts Honoris Causa.

Nora’s artwork is extremely diverse and primarily deals with Hispanic and Indian affairs, Immigration, and women. Her beautiful abstracts speak for themselves! Nora was born in 1932 in Weslaco, Texas as a first-generation Chicana. Her career began and was established in Detroit.

An internationally-respected fine artist, Nora has devoted her life to art and the expression and promotion of human rights. Her social and political themes of labor, revolution, and freedom are derived from a Mexican heritage and the experiences of a 20th century Hispanic artist working in urban Detroit. Her series on the plight of migrant farm workers and their struggle for equality are featured in many publications.

Nora began a five-decade-long career as a gallery owner exhibiting her own work, as well as promoting and supporting other Latino artists. In the early 1980’s, she was appointed vice chair of the New Detroit Arts Committee. She was a cofounder of Nuestras Artes en Michigan and a founding member of the Michigan Hispanic/Cultural Art Association, and was a member of the Latino Caucus of Southwest Detroit. In 1999, she was the liaison to the Michigan Latino Arts and Culture Initiative, a collaboration of Casa de Unidad, the Michigan Council for the Arts, and the Michigan Department of Education. Nora helped pave the way for Hispanic Art today!

Nora’s work is in many important private, corporate and archival collections. She was commissioned by Cesar Chavez to do a series of paintings to support his Children of the Fields program. Nora’s archives are in the Smithsonian and her patrons include the Ford Foundation, General Motors, Detroit Edison, Blue Cross Blue Shield and CBS among many others. Nora was also chosen as the 2024 Kresge Eminent Artist. This prestigious annual award recognizes the extraordinary lifetime achievements and contributions of one metro Detroit artist.

Nora has been deeply involved with, and supportive of many Hispanic and Native American groups, many of whose issues are depicted in her artwork. She has exhibited nationally and internationally in solo and group exhibitions including a presentation, a workshop and a large exhibition of her work at Oakland University in September of 2019. She also has numerous television and radio interviews to her credit.

Nora is a master of all mediums. Her paintings range from very small pieces to extensively large pieces, and she works with a variety of materials, primarily oil and acrylic, but also a wide range of mixed media.

Nora has shared her gift with many students over many decades, doing workshops and presentations for many underprivileged students throughout Michigan and internationally. “I believe each and every one of us is given a gift to develop to our highest potential,” she said. “It is not a gift to keep but a gift to give back! I hope to leave a legacy to our children, our children’s children and generations to come.”

Nora will be honored at the 9 a.m. ceremony on Saturday, April 27.

Camille Jayne
Camille Jayne

Camille Jayne has been selected to receive a Doctor of Business Honoris Causa.

Camille has been a successful turnaround CEO of six companies over the past 22 years and is one of the few businesswomen who has been chairman and CEO of a U.S. publicly traded company. She has served as a board director for four publicly traded, three private and eight nonprofit companies.

Camille is known for driving strategic direction, operational restructuring and creative product development to quickly deliver top and bottom-line growth. No matter the industry, she promises “to stun you with unbelievable results,” mentoring employees into leaders for sustainable success so she can move on.

Earning a BA, with distinction, from Stanford University with a double emphasis in pre-med and graphic design, she then received an MFA in design at Stanford. Craving strategic input, Camille obtained an MBA from the University of Michigan in marketing and new product development — a pivotal turning point in her career trajectory and happiness.

Camille developed her new product acumen at The Pillsbury Company; and continued on at Procter and Gamble’s Vidal Sassoon division, catapulting new haircare products to number one market share.

Known for transformational success, Camille was hired by Comerica Bank as FVP of Liabilities, stagnant at $7 billion. She and her team did not disappoint, introducing new offerings including the first full-service banks (ComeriMarts) in supermarkets.

As SVP of Digital TV at cable giant Tele-Communications, Inc. Camille, working with CEO and media visionary John Malone, spearheaded the launch of the first digital TV service, gaining international recognition. As chairman and CEO of Universal Electronics, Inc. she reestablished UEI to profit and a Wall Street gem, taking the stock from $5 to $50, revenue from $80 million to $300 million, and the global leader in three years. As chief executive at Bitcentral, Inc., she led the unprofitable, multimillion-dollar digital TV news software company to #1 market share, increasing revenue by 100%, and EBITDA by 1200% in 24 months.

After founding The Jayne Group consulting, to give back Camille became president of the National Association of Women Business Owners, growing the Orange County, Calif. chapter from smallest to largest by securing women owned organizations as a vital market segment. She launched 501(c)(3) Women’s Business Institutes in Orange County, Calif. and Oakland County, Mich.; and taught her monthly “Bulletproof Your Success” lecture series to professionals in California and Michigan, donating all $300,000 proceeds back to charity.

Valuing education, Camille established the Jayne Scholarship Endowment at her alma mater, Cranbrook/Kingswood, to cover the majority of costs for a promising 9-12th grade girl in financial need. Jayne Scholars have gone on to Harvard, Penn, Columbia, USC and Ohio Wesleyan.

Accolades include recognition as one of the 10 most powerful people in Orange County, Calif.; Women in Business Award for S. Calif; the United States National SBA Women in Business Champion; and a Tribute by Rep. David Trott on the floor of the United States House of Representatives praising her CEO work for returning The Community House nonprofit (Birmingham, Mich.) to financial health.

She has been a visiting professor in MBA programs at the University of Michigan; UC Irvine; and Oakland University. She and her husband Brad Jayne reside in California.

Camille will be honored at the 2 p.m. ceremony on Friday, April 26.

Eric Hemenway
Eric Hemenway

Eric Hemenway has been selected to receive a Doctor of Arts Honoris Causa.

Eric is an Anishnaabe/Odawa from Cross Village, Mich. Eric is the director of repatriation, archives and records for the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians. Eric oversees the management, collecting and preservation of historic documents and materials for the tribe. These materials are used to support LTBB government functions and its citizens. Eric works on numerous educational initiatives that include but are not limited to: museum exhibits, media, curriculum development, publications, historical interpretation, signage, web content and presentations.

Collaborations on exhibits and programs have included the National Park Service, state of Michigan, Mackinac State Historic Parks, Emmet County, Welt Museum Wien Vienna, Austria and the Harbor Springs History Museum, as well as other museums. Educational partnerships include: Harbor Springs Public Schools, Charlevoix Public Schools, Western Michigan University, Amherst College, Brown University, Newberry Library, University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Harvard, Yale and Aquinas College. Eric also has extensive work experience under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, working on over 30 successful repatriation claims and authoring a manual on performing repatriation work.

He currently sits on boards for the Michigan Historical Commission, Central Michigan University Clarke Library, Michigan Historical Society, King House Association and Little Traverse Conservancy. Eric is a former board member of the Michigan Humanities Council, Emmet County Historical Commission, National NAGRPA Review Committee, Harbor Springs Historical Museum and the Michigan Commission on the Commemoration of the Bicentennial of the War of 1812. He is the recipient of the Grand Rapids Public Museum Casey award 2010, Harbor Springs Chamber of Commerce Community Service Award 2015 and Michigan Humanities Council Humanities Champion of the Year 2019.

Outside of work, Eric spends his time with family and friends. Family includes two dogs, Sammy the Samoyed and Prim the Pitbull. Eric also spends as much time outdoors in beautiful Northern Michigan, exploring trails, two tracks, beaches and generally anywhere off the beaten path. Good food and conversations are appreciated, as well as meeting new people and seeing new places. Eric would like to acknowledge all the people and experiences that have helped him along his path, as well as being Anishnaabe in the lands of the ancestors.

Eric will be honored at the 2 p.m. ceremony on Saturday, April 27.

Honorary degrees are awarded by OU’s Board of Trustees in recognition of distinguished accomplishment and service within the scope of the arts and letters, sciences, professions and public service as recognized and supported by the University. The awarding of honorary degrees reaffirms Oakland University’s scholarly, creative and humanitarian values, and ties the university to the community at large.

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