Michigan State University main website

Distinguished Alumni and Entrepreneurs Receive Honorary Degrees at Spring Commencements

Distinguished Spartan alumni Cousins and Whitmer to speak at commencements

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer spoke at Michigan State University’s advanced degree graduation ceremony May 3 and received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

In addition, former Spartan quarterback Kirk Cousins, now with the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings, received an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree and spoke at the May 3 undergraduate convocation.

“Michigan State was proud to welcome home two distinguished alumni who personify the cherished Spartan qualities of service and leadership in their respective fields,” said MSU Acting President Satish Udpa. “Both Gov. Whitmer and Kirk Cousins have earned national acknowledgment of those qualities.”

William Demmer, CEO of Demmer Holdings Inc., received an honorary Doctor of Business degree at the undergraduate convocation. Reimund Neugebauer, president of German research organization Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, received an honorary Doctor of Engineering degree during the advanced degree ceremony.

Cousins, Demmer, Whitmer

Biographies of the speakers and honorary degree recipients.

Kirk Cousins
Cousins is the starting quarterback of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings. He was drafted to the NFL in 2012 after playing on MSU’s football team from 2009-11.

Born in Barrington, Ill., Cousins earned an undergraduate degree from MSU.

William Demmer
Demmer is the president and CEO of Demmer Holdings Inc., a manufacturing business headquartered in Lansing. The company was founded by his father in 1951 to design and build tools, dies and special machinery for the auto and aerospace industries. Demmer led the company’s diversification into the defense industry, developing and manufacturing protective heavy armor systems.

Demmer earned an undergraduate degree from the MSU College of Engineering. He is a recipient of the Claude E. Erickson Distinguished Alumni Award as well as an Honorary Alumnus Award from the College of Natural Resources.

Reimund Neugebauer
Neugebauer became president of Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft in 2012. A founding member of the company, he previously served as director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Form Technology. Neugebauer was the dean of mechanical engineering and director of the Institute of Machine Tools and Production Processes at Technische Universitat Chemnitz.

Born in Thuringia, Germany, Neugebauer earned an undergraduate degree and doctorate in mechanical engineering from Technische Universitat Dresden.

Gretchen Whitmer
Whitmer was elected Michigan’s 49th governor in November 2018. A Democrat, she served as a Michigan state representative from 2001-06 and a Michigan state senator from 2006-15. She also was interim Ingham County Prosecutor in 2016.

Whitmer has taught at MSU and the University of Michigan. Born in Grand Rapids, she earned an undergraduate degree from MSU and is a graduate of the MSU College of Law, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude.

View previous honorary degree holders by visiting the chronological or alphabetical list of recipients. If you are also interested in learning more about the nomination process, please visit the honorary degrees page for more information.


Comments are closed.