The Fellow is Northwestern Michigan College's highest honor, awarded annually since 1964. Fellows may be nominated because they have demonstrated influential networking on behalf of the College, have demonstrated a pattern of outstanding financial or personal time contributions to NMC, or as a retiree of the College continue to contribute back to their academic or professional fields as volunteers, mentors or advisors. Exceptional contributions in one or more of these areas may justify nomination. No staff, faculty, or trustee shall be named a Fellow while still employed or in office.
2015 recipient: Bruce Byl
NMC alumnus and current Foundation board member Bruce Byl has been named the 2015 recipient of NMC's highest honor, the NMC Fellow award.
A 1979 aviation alumnus, Byl received a scholarship during his student days. He said he promised himself then that he would eventually return the favor.
“It made the difference on whether I could continue in college or not," said Byl, 60, who went on to earn a bachelor's degree in marketing from Michigan State University and a business career as eventual president and CEO of Office Concepts, a Chicago-based Steelcase commercial furniture distributor.
“As a past scholarship recipient, I’m passionate about giving back to NMC so that other students may experience the same opportunity that I was afforded. By raising scholarship funds through my efforts at the Foundation, I’m able to assist many individuals in our region realize their educational and career dreams. To me, that’s a very satisfying way of giving back," Byl said.
By any estimate, Byl has paid it back and then some. A native of Spring Lake, Mich., he enrolled in NMC following his service in the U.S. Marine Corps. He made his first financial gift to NMC in 1984. Byl and his family moved to Traverse City, his wife Mary's hometown, in 2005 and he joined the NMC Foundation Board in 2006. He has since served as Foundation board chair and on multiple Foundation committees, including his current role as chair of its Major Gifts committee. He remains active in the local business community, and in 2013 founded Taste Bud Branding, a specialty marketing firm focused on Michigan-made food and beverage items.
Past NMC Fellows
- 2014: Richard and Diana Milock
- 2013: Dr. Don Good, Walter J. Hooper
- 2012: Hettie Molvang
- 2011: Terry S. Malone
- 2010: James MacInnes, Elaine C. Wood
- 2009: Jean Howard, Ted Kidd, Phyllis Kidd, D. Jerome Slack, Margery Slack
- 2008: Charles E. Benson, Barbara S. Benson, Louise Hagerty, Wayne H. Lobdell, Terry Lobdell
- 2007: Donald Oleson, Sr., Gerald Oleson, Jr.
- 2006: Walter E. Beardslee, Elaine L. Beardslee
- 2005: William G. Janis, Jacqueline E. Ribel, Mark L. Ribel
- 2004: Rotary Charities of Traverse City
- 2003: Christian P. Kamm, Shirley S. Okerstrom
- 2002: Marvin Rorick, Luella Rorick
- 2001: George C. Comden, Bart T. Stupak, Norman Veliquette, Marjory Veliquette
- 2000: Nick Rajkovich, Frances Rajkovich
- 1999: Robert T. Hughes, Robert Rudd, Grace Rudd, Capt. George J. Ryan
- 1998: Thomas C. Jones, Edward C. Walker
- 1997: James J. Beckett, Al Shumsky, Dudley Smith, Barbara Smith III
- 1996: David Lee Gray, Paul T. Johnson, Frances B. Johnson, Donald W. Nugent, Gail M. Nugent
- 1995: Dr. Charles D. Kesner, Richard W. Olson, Dr. C. Russell Wentworth
- 1994: Dr. Charles Kelly, Dolores Kelly, Barbara I.C. MacFarlane, Jane E. Norton, Frank E. Noverr
- 1993: Walter Holland
- 1992: Susie (Kildee) Janis, Paul Welch
- 1991: Sen. George A. McManus, Jr.
- 1990: Helen W. Milliken, JoAnne M. Zimmerman
- 1989: Gordon Lightfoot, Arthur M. Schmuckal, Mary E. Schmuckal, Adm. Willard J. Smith, U.S.C.G.
- 1988: Robert L. Goff, Jack B. Stegenga
- 1987: Marie G. McCarthy, Mrs. William E. Votruba
- 1986: Bernard C. Rink
- 1985: Frank W. Tezak, Ralph J. Lautner, Mary E. Lautner, Joseph H. Rogers
- 1984: Alice A. Drulard, Blake Forslund
- 1983: Michael Dennos, Barbara Dennos, V. Adm. Paul E. Trimble (Ret.)
- 1981: Lester M. Biederman, Warren W. Cline, M.D.
- 1980: Lt. Gov. Connie Binsfeld
- 1979: Doris Nerbonne, Everett R. Hames
- 1978: John L. Horton
- 1977: Julius C. Sleder
- 1976: Ferris N. Crawford
- 1974: James P. DeLapa, Andrew L. Olson
- 1973: Harry L. Weitz, M.D., Sen. Robert P. Griffin
- 1972: Dorothy C. Hall, Preston N. Tanis
- 1971: James E. Clune, Arthur G. Whitelock
- 1970: Harry T. Running, Mrs. Mark (Helen) Osterlin
- 1969: Corrine J. Naar
- 1968: Julius H. Beers
- 1967: Eugene B. Power
- 1966: Wilbur C. Munnecke
- 1965: George I. Altenburg, Gov. William G. Milliken, Leslie Tremaine, Bernice Tremaine
- 1964: Arnell G. Engstrom, Gerald Oleson, Frances Oleson, Ferris J. Rennie, Harold Wise, Imogene Wise, Ellis A. Wunsch, Ph.D.