Office of the VP for Communications – Keeping alumni and friends connected to U-M

Alumni Notes

  1. Stanley Temple Donner

    born in Norfolk, Nebraska, in 1910, died at his home in Willits, California, in December 2003, shortly after his 93d birthday.
    After receiving his PhD in rhetoric at Northwestern University, where he wrote a dissertation on the speeches of Mark Twain that Twain scholars continue to use to this day, Donner joined the Navy in WWII. He served as a lieutenant commander in the South Pacific; his duties included writing speeches for Naval luminaries such as Admiral Nimitz.
    Donner joined Stanford's speech department after the war and became a leader in the development of educational television. He collaborated with Marshall McLuhan and others in working out theories of mass media. He then played the seminal role in writing up the plan and getting the grant to establish San Francisco's first educational TV station, KQED.
    On a Fulbright to the University of London in 1962, Donner joined other scholars in creating the first "Open University" there. The program still exists, broadcasting lectures on the BBC and offering degrees to many who would not otherwise be able to gain a university education.
    Donner accepted the post of chairman of the new department of communication at the University of Texas at Austin in 1965. He joined the anti-Vietnam War movement in 1970 and read Mark Twain's "War Prayer" (a passionate indictment of war that Twain kept unpublished until after his death) to a crowd of 50,000 on the Texas East Mall.
    After retiring in 1982, he journeyed to Nigeria with his wife Joann (Josie) Emerson. Both taught at the University of Kano, contributing greatly to the literacy and commmunication program there.
    The Donners returned to live in Ukiah, California, in 1987 to be near their grandchildren. Josie Donner died in 1996, after which Donner concentrated on his art.
    "He adored his early years with you [the University of Michigan]," his son Marco wrote to Michigan Today, "and of course we heard hundreds of University of Michigan stories. Many, many thanks for being such a large part of our father's life."
    Besides Marco, Donner is survived by daughters Victoria, Jan, Megan and Tamsen, and by several grandchildren.

  2. Nicholas A. Dembsey

    Nicholas A. Dembsey '86 Civil Engineering, associate professor of Fire Protection Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, has been named the FM Global Scholar for 2003-2005. This position is funded and supported by commercial and industrial property insurer FM Global, headquartered in Johnston, Rhode Island, a world leader in scientific fire research for more than a century. The support will assist Prof. Dembsey and one of his doctoral students in their research focus on composite material flammability and performance-based applications.

    After earning his BS in civil engineering at the Michigan and MS at the University of California at Berkeley, he completed his PhD in civil engineering (fire safety engineering science) at Berkeley. At WPI his teaching and research focus is in fire dynamics and fire modeling.

    In recent years, Dembsey's work has evolved into the areas of fiber reinforced polymer (FRP) composites and the performance-based applications of these material systems, in collaboration with industry. In 2003 he was appointed chair of the newly created FRP Fire Performance Task Force of the American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA).

  3. Martha J. Retallick

    is also known as "The Passionate Postcarder." She hails from Tucson, Arizona, USA, where she publishes how-to manuals on direct mail marketing using postcards.

    Currently, Martha's manuals are only available as PDF e-books, but she plans to make a foray into the world of print-on-demand publishing next year.

    Learn more at:

  4. Jeff Knurek

    Over the last 14 years, Jeff Knurek has been a toy and game inventor, consumer product inventor, graphic artist, illustrator, cartoonist and, now, a puzzle creator. Knurek’s game credits include: "SpikeBall," an outdoor game for Tomy; "Order Up," an action game for Ace Novelty; "What's In Ned's Head?," and "Monster Medic" children's games for FunDex Games, and many more. He has also invented premium toys for Kelloggs and General Mills. Knurek has also created illustrations, cartoons and graphic designs for the Chicago Tribune, Conagra Foods, Great America Amusement Parks, General Mills and more. He is the artist for Jumble® See and Search books, Double Jumble® and the Meirt Industries Electronic Daily Jumble®. Knurek has recently created the syndicated puzzle Boggle BrainBusters!, found in newspapers across the country as well as books featuring the Boggle BrainBuster puzzles. Knurek, who lives in Chicago, has a teaching certificate in Art Education K-12 in additon to his U-M degree in industrial design. He and his wife, Kathy, have two children, Sydney and Cameron.

  5. Courtney Reid

    a first team All-American in field hockey, married baseball captain and classmate Nick Alexander '01 on May 25, 2003. Pictured are the many teammates and other U-M friends who traveled to Deerfield, Mass., for the wedding.

  6. Leslie Chambers Strohm

    who has more than two decades of experience representing research universities, academic medical centers and health care-related clients across North America, has been named general counsel at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The appointment was effective July 31. Strohm comes to Carolina from Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal, where she was a partner in a 600-member firm that is among the nation's 85 largest and has offices in St. Louis, Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago, Kansas City, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Before joining Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal, she spent eight-and-a-half years in posts including deputy general counsel and acting general counsel at the Washington University in St. Louis. "Leslie has a profound appreciation for the special role of our university," said said Chancellor James Moeser. "Her work on health-care issues from both university and business perspectives will be particularly helpful since Carolina has five health schools and close affiliation with the UNC Health Care System." An Indiana native, Strohm earned a bachelor's degree and Phi Beta Kappa honors from DePauw University in 1978. She received Order of the Coif honors from the U-M Law School. in 1981.

  7. Heather Wathington

    Heather Wathington of the Lumina Foundation for Education hasbeen appointed senior research officer. She will assist with the foundation’s research on student access and success in postsecondary education. Wathington’s background blends experience in higher education and research. Most recently, she served as director of programs in the office of Diversity, Equity and Global Initiatives at the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) in Washington, DC. In addition to directing the office’s grant programs, she also published "Diversity Digest," AAC&U’s quarterly newsletter. Prior to AAC&U, she worked at the University of Michigan as a graduate research assistant for the Kellogg Forum on Higher Education for the Public Good and as lead research associate on a federally funded grant project, “Preparing College Students for a Diverse Democracy.”

    Wathington serves on several national committees and boards dedicated to diversity issues, including the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies’ steering committee on bridging race and ethnicity; the Democracy Collaborative, the University of Maryland’s advisory board on democracy and diversity; and the advisory board for a recent publication from the Southern Poverty Law Center titled 10 Ways to Fight Hate on Campus.

    Wathington is an honors graduate of Wellesley College and earned a master’s degree in higher education policy and administration from the University of Pennsylvania. She is a doctoral candidate at the Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education at the University of Michigan.

  8. Alyson Hinton-Minott

    Upon graduation from U of M in 1989, I returned to my beloved New York City. I completed my JD in 1992 from the City University of New York School of Law. I am now a partner in the law firm of Alan Cass and Associates. I have been partner since July of 2000. My firm specializes in workers compensation, social security disability, and personal injury. In addition, I got married in November of 2002 to an attorney.

  9. Morris Milmet

    a leading business attorney with the firm of Butzel Long and well known throughout the state of Michigan, died on November 6, 2003, at the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor.
    Mr. Milmet was born in 1923 in Holly, Michigan. He remained proud of his roots in Holly and stayed in close contact with all of his boyhood friends. In 1995, he donated the funds necessary to build the Milmet Family Reading Room at the Holly Public Library.
    Mr. Milmet attended Alma College and received a Bachelor’s degree from Eastern Michigan University. He enlisted in the United States Navy during World War II and served as a Lieutenant (J.G.), spending 18 months in the Pacific Theatre of Operations. After his military service, he enrolled in the University of Michigan Law School and graduated in 1949.
    Mr. Milmet started his legal career as a business lawyer, and formed the firm of Milmet Vecchio, a well respected business and corporate law firm based in Detroit. In 1986, the firm merged into Butzel Long. Mr. Milmet’s practice focused on representing entrepreneurial clients whose businesses quickly grew and prospered. He enjoyed the confidence of his corporate clients on whose boards he served as a director and advisor. His advice and counsel on business matters was eagerly sought by his clients with whom he enjoyed both a business and personal relationship.
    Certain of his clients had foreign subsidiaries, and he traveled extensively throughout the world representing their interests. “He was in an elite group of lawyers truly serving as an international counselor and advisor for nearly half a century,” said his longtime partner and friend Frank Vecchio, a shareholder and Director of Butzel Long.
    In addition to his business practice, he served as a Member and Chairperson of the Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC), having been appointed to successive terms by Governor Romney in 1969 and by Governor Milliken from 1972 to 1981. He was a co-founder of Temple Kol Ami in West Bloomfield, Michigan.
    Mr. Milmet will always be remembered by his family and friends for his generous spirit and devotion to his family, especially his sister, Dorothy. He was always accessible and enjoyed working with his colleagues. Even under circumstances which others would consider difficult, he always maintained a calm and optimistic disposition.
    He is survived by his wife, Sarah, and their son, Leo, niece, Renee Solomon (Wesley Richards), and nephews, Marc (Patricia) Solomon, David Solomon and Robert Solomon and John Ronayne and Ryan Ronayne.
    The service for Morris Milmet will take place at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, November 9, 2003, at Ira Kaufman Chapel: 18325 West Nine Mile Road Southfield, MI 48075-4021 Burial will follow at Beth El Memorial Park Cemetery: 28120 Six Mile Road, Livonia, MI 48152-3662.
    Any memorial contributions can be made in Morris Milmet’s name to: Holly Township Library 1116 N. Saginaw Street, Holly, MI 48442.