Commencement speaker

Nov 10, 2006

L. Brooks Patterson, the well-known executive of Oakland County, will offer the Commencement address Dec. 9 when Kettering honors almost 300 graduates.

The Oakland County administrator who helped launch Automation Alley will present the Commencement address when Kettering University hosts graduation ceremonies on Saturday, Dec. 9, for almost 300 undergraduate and graduate students. L. Brooks Patterson, the Oakland County executive and one of the state's leading promoters of building a new economy in Southeast Michigan based on 21st Century technologies, will speak during the colorful ceremonies in Kettering's Recreation Center. Patterson also will receive an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.

Here are the highlights of the upcoming ceremony:

  • Saturday, Dec. 9, 2006, 11:30 a.m. (EST)
  • Connie and Jim John Recreation Center
  • No tickets required to attend Commencement
  • Allow 1 1/2 hours for the ceremony
  • Presiding: Kettering University President Stan Liberty
  • Parking is free and available in all campus parking lots
  • Information center is open in the Registrar's Office, 3rd Floor of the Academic Building, 8:30-10:30 a.m.
  • Graduates attending commencement: 175 undergraduates and 25 graduate candidates
  • Expected number of guests: 1,800
  • Faculty will host a reception with light hors d'oeuvres & refreshments in the International Room, Fifth Floor of the Campus Center, 9-10:30 a.m.
  • Recreation Center doors open at 9:30 a.m. for visitors to arrive and be seated
  • Faculty and staff members assemble for the Processional between 10:30-11:15 a.m. in the Third Floor, Recreation Center
  • Graduates assemble on the first floor of the Campus Center (just outside BJ's Lounge) between 11 - 11:25 a.m.
  • Formal processional begins at 11:30 a.m.

COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS: L. Brooks Patterson - Oakland County Executive Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters

As the long-serving executive of Oakland County, L. Brooks Patterson is an international ambassador for the developing talent and technologies of the 21st Century.

He was born on Jan. 4, 1939. He attended the University of Detroit Jesuit High School, received a bachelor's degree from the University of Detroit Mercy and later earned a Juris Doctorate from its law school in 1967. In 1968, Patterson was hired by the Oakland County Prosecuting Attorney office as an assistant prosecutor. In 1972, he was elected the Oakland County Prosecutor, a position he held until 1988, when he left to practice law in the private sector.

Four years later, in 1992, he was elected the Oakland County executive for one of America's wealthiest and most affluent counties. Voters re-elected him in 1996, 2000 and 2004. Patterson presides over an $822 million dollar annual budget, a county workforce of more than 4,500 employees, and a population of more than one million residents.

During the 13 years of his administration, Oakland County government has earned respect from Wall Street for its solid tax base and sound financial policies by attaining and maintaining a coveted AAA bond rating, which only 34 of the nation's 3,200 counties have received. Some of the innovative programs he has helped launch include:

Automation Alley, southeast Michigan's premier high-tech consortium which Patterson founded in 1998, now boasts a membership roster of more than 600 companies. Automation Alley's new technology center opened its doors in 2004 and hosts, among other things, an International Business Center where foreign corporations can utilize two completely outfitted offices for two weeks without cost.

Emerging Sectors - an initiative focused on identifying the top 10 emerging and promising business sectors for the new economy that Oakland County might be able to attract for future job growth and long lasting economicstability. Companies inthese emerging sectors are involved in such cutting-edge technologies as biotechnology, nanotechnology, wireless communications and alternative energy. One of the fastest growing sectors is the financial services sector, where Oakland County now leads the state with more than $32 billion in total deposits.

Wireless Oakland - a program designed to blanket Oakland County with free wireless Internet access while offering "no cost" or "low cost" PCs, wireless technology and training to Oakland County's 1.2 million residents and 320,000 daily visitors.

Count Your Steps - a pedometer walking program to target childhood obesity that involves providing pedometers to 30,000 third and fourth grade students in Oakland County's public, private and charter schools. All money is raised through private donations; no taxpayer's funds are involved.

The Employee Suggestion Program has generated more than $5 million worth of taxpayer savings since 1993 while his Casual Day Program has distributed $400,000 to local charities without involving taxpayer funds.

Patterson founded Arts, Beats & Eats in 1998. The four-day family-oriented fun-fest in downtown Pontiac features great food, wonderful music and extraordinary art. The event, ranked as one of the top 10 Art Fairs in America, attracts an estimated 1.4 million people annually.

Although Patterson has been involved in a number of charities, perhaps the one closest to his heart is The Rainbow Connection, which he founded in 1980 following the tragic death of a close friend and his two children in a private plane crash. To honor the memory of the children, Patterson established The Rainbow Connection which grants wishes to terminally ill children. He serves as president of this organization.

His long list of honors and awards include the Lighthouse Humanitarian Award (2004); Corp! Magazine Man of the Decade (2000); Arts, Beats & Eats Foundation Quality of LifeAward(2003);Automation Alley CEO Legend of the Year (2003); NAACP Recognition Dinner (2004); 2005 Visionary Award from the Michigan Department of Information Technology for leadership support of technology initiatives; Champion for Children Award from Region 9 (Oakland, Wayne and Macomb counties) of the Michigan Association of School Administrators (MASA); Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Baker College; voted Michigan's Best Republican in a 2006 Detroit News poll of more than 105,000 readers; and named "World Trader of the Year" in 2005 by the Detroit Regional Chamber for his significant contributions to promote international trade in southeast Michigan.

HOTELS/RESTAURANTS: Contact the Flint Area Convention and Visitors Bureau: 1-800-24-FLINT or (810) 232-2211.

CAN WE HELP? 1-800-955-4464, ext. 9585, or 810-762-9585.

Written by Patricia Mroczek