NCCE inducts five alumni into first national hall of fame

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Most people are familiar with the Baseball Hall of Fame, which recognizes and rewards those who have achieved excellence in the sport. Players such as Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jackie Robinson and Hank Aaron have become household names. Recently, the National Commission of Cooperative Education (NCCE) initiated a new hall of fame, one that recognizes and honors those individuals who graduated from cooperative education programs and went on to become outstanding leaders in business and industry.

The five Kettering/GMI alumni recently inducted into the inaugural class represent some of brightest minds in business and industry today, people whose integrity and commitment to their fields and will leave an impression on future industry leaders in the U.S. and throughout the world.

Their names have appeared in "The Wall Street Journal," "New York Times," "Fortune" and "Forbes" magazines to name just a few. The companies they lead have shaped how American companies conduct business now and in the future.

They are:

  • J.T Battenberg III, chairman, CEO and president of Delphi Corp., and chairman of the Delphi Strategy Board;
  • Gary L. Cowger, president of General Motors North America;
  • Robert C. Kagle, co-founder and partner at Benchmark Capital;
  • Dr. Dane A Miller, co-founder, president and CEO of Biomet Inc.; and
  • Robert E. Reiss, retired president and CEO of IVT Corp.

All five individuals received their nominations from Dr. James E.A. John, president of Kettering University and a member of the National Commission for Cooperative Education Board of Trustees.

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Following the recent launch of the NCCE inaugural class for the Co-Op Hall of Fame, Commission President Dr. Paul J. Stonely said, "We are extremely proud to honor our 35 distinguished inductees representing exemplary cooperative education success stories. I am particularly pleased to honor Kettering's five graduates in this hall of fame. Every college-bound student in the country now has the opportunity to learn about the Co-Op Hall of Fame and its cooperative education success stories as they decide what college program would best suit their needs."

For Dr. John, whose leadership of Kettering University since 1991 has sparked the development of state-of-the-art laboratories, enhanced changes in curriculum that respond to the growing needs in business and industry, and initiated the construction of new buildings and centers of technology on campus, these five individuals serve as exceptional representatives of the kind of students and professionals Kettering produces year in and year out. As the current vice chair and former chairman of the board for this nationally recognized commission, John is very pleased that Kettering's five inductees will show what kind of positive impact cooperative education programs can offer to college students.

"The selection of five of Kettering's alumni as members of the Co-Op Hall of Fame is a fine tribute, not only to the individuals, but also to the quality of cooperative education provided by Kettering University," President John explained. "The mission of Kettering is to prepare leaders for a global workplace and the success of these five honorees demonstrates our success in achieving this mission."

Kettering's five inductees
The record of leadership, innovative business acumen, and commitment to community demonstrated by the Kettering inductees are clearly palpable.

Image removed. For example J.T. Battenberg III '66, CEO of Delphi Corp., a world leader in mobile electronics and transportation components and systems, led the company's spin-off from GM in 1999 and continues to oversee the Delphi's success as an industry leader in electronics and automotive technology. He serves on Kettering's board of trustees and is a board member for the Columbia University Business School. In 1998, the Detroit Regional Chamber named him the 1998 International Business Council's World Trader of the Year. And in 1999, he was inducted into the Shingo Prize Academy for manufacturing excellence and has also received the Leader of Vision-Technology Award by Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) International for the advancement of humankind.

The other four Kettering graduates elected to the NCCE Co-Op Hall of Fame have just as impressive records of accomplishment.

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Gary L. Cowger '70, who is president of GM of North America with responsibility of the company's production plants, has held an array of engineering and manufacturing assignments of increasing responsibility at the company, including president and managing director of General Motors de Mexico and managing director of Adam Opel-GM Europe. In 2001 he received the Manufacturing Leadership Award from the Shien-Ming Wu Foundation and currently serves on the Kettering University Board of Trustees.

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Robert C. Kagle '78, co-founder and partner at Benchmark Capital, is ranked number one on "Forbes" magazine's Midas List. He is considered by many to be the embodiment of the phrase "hometown boy does good." He began his career as a co-op student for General Motors in his hometown of Flint, Mich., which led to a fellowship to attend Stanford University for an MBA. Opportunities for venture capitalists in the Silicon Valley moved him permanently to the West Coast, where he is credited with helping to launch Ebay and assisting consumer-based information technology and entrepreneurial companies enter emerging markets. "Forbes" magazine places him at #1 for elite venture capitalists who nurture and steer the technology economy. He is currently chairman of the Kettering University Board of Trustees.

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Dane A. Miller '69 is co-founder, president and CEO of Biomet Inc., an orthopedic company in Warsaw, Ind., which designs, manufactures and markets replacement products. In 2002, the company boasted sales of more than $1 billion last year and pioneered the use of titanium alloy for replacement knees and hips. In that same year, Miller received the number two ranking on the "Forbes" magazine list of "Money Well Spent For CEOs." Additionally, he received listings in the "BusinessWeek" magazine's prestigious "Top Chief Executives" and "Top Performing CEO in Delivering Results to Shareholders."Miller continues to serve as a symbol of his co-op heritage by acting as a hands-on owner, involved in all aspects of his company. He is also a long-time trustee of Kettering University.

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Robert E. Reiss '60 is considered the country's first bio-engineer and is a pioneer in the medical device industry. During his career, he helped found, build and manage a number of companies, as well as introduce some of the century's most important new healthcare advances. He was president and CEO of IMED Corp., ACS and IVT. In his 40-years as a leader in the medical device industry, he solved complex manufacturing problems that helped make angioplasty a common procedure today and launched the interventional cardiology revolution. In 2001 he received a lifetime achievement award at Phoenix 2001: The Medical Device and Diagnostic Conference for Chief Executive Officers.

Kettering University and the National Commission of Cooperative Education
Kettering University, formerly General Motors Institute, has been providing professional co-op experience for its students for more than 80 years. Kettering's career-based scientific and engineering programs have given the school an international reputation in the industrial world that the new "Insider's Guide to the 320 Most Interesting Colleges" calls "superb!" Kettering offers its 2,500 students nine bachelor's degree programs that combine on-campus classroom and laboratory experience and meaningful, relevant, paid employment with more than 700 corporate partners. At the graduate level, students can structure their academic studies around work schedules and earn their master's degree through distance-learning options. For more information on Kettering University and its record in offering world-class cooperative undergraduate education and graduate degrees, call 1-800-955-4464, or visit

The NCCE, based in Boston, Mass., is an organization dedicated to the advancement of the highest quality college-level cooperative education with a board of trustees comprised of top corporate executives and leaders of the nation's major corporations and universities.

To learn more about the National Commission of Cooperative Education Co-Op Hall of Fame, call (617) 373-3770, or visit the website at

Written by Gary J. Erwin