Albion Recognizes Three Distinguished Alumni at Homecoming (2014)

Shari Parker Burgess, ’80

Shari Parker Burgess, '80Shari Parker Burgess has had a wild—and wildly successful—ride with Lear Corporation, a Fortune 250 company and one of the automotive industry's foremost suppliers of seating and electrical distribution systems, based in Southfield, Michigan. Over the past 22 years, Burgess has helped Lear make acquisitions, deal with activist shareholder issues, enter and emerge from bankruptcy, and grow annual sales from $1.5 billion in 1992 to over $17.5 billion projected for 2014.

After beginning her career as an auditor at Ernst & Young, LLP, Burgess joined Lear's finance team at the beginning of a corporate “growth spurt.” In a six-year period, she was a principal player in Lear's acquisition of 16 companies. Promoted to vice president and treasurer in 2002, she tapped her deep experience to help Lear weather several upcoming challenges. In 2013 she added the role of chief diversity officer to her responsibilities at Lear.

As early as 2005, Burgess reorganized the company's capital structure to provide the flexibility Lear required to proactively lead the industry in restructuring its global operational footprint to gain cost efficiencies and to prepare for the emergence of global car platforms. In 2007, she played a key role in Lear's evaluation of a $5.3-billion buyout proposal from Carl Icahn. Then, like many of its customers and other suppliers in the automotive industry, Lear was forced into bankruptcy following the 2008 financial crisis. Unlike most others, however, Lear emerged from bankruptcy with one of the industry's strongest balance sheets, thanks in part to Burgess' skillful management.

Burgess' outstanding leadership in her field has been recognized with a number of professional awards. In 2007, she was named one of Detroit's Most Influential Women by Crain's Detroit Business; in 2010 she made the Automotive News list of 100 Leading Women in the North American Automotive Business and in 2011 was recognized as one of Treasury and Risk's Women in Finance.

Burgess is a board member with Inforum Center for Leadership, Health Alliance Plan, and the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion, and is active with the United Way Tocqueville Society. She holds an M.B.A. from the University of Michigan and was a member of Albion's Alpha Xi Delta sorority. She is the mother of Parker Burgess, '06, and Eric Burgess.

Paul R. Dixon, ’83

Paul R. Dixon, '83As a postdoctoral researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico, Paul Dixon delved into a range of projects in physical chemistry, nuclear chemistry, and nuclear geochemistry. Dixon's wide-ranging expertise prompted LANL to invite him to lead the geochemistry research for, and ultimately their entire contribution to, the ambitious vision for a permanent nuclear waste storage facility for the United States at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.

The Yucca Mountain project was intended to address the nation's growing stockpile of nuclear waste. Dixon and his colleagues were tasked with designing a leak-proof, disaster-proof storage facility that would contain tons of dangerous materials for at least 25,000 years. As the LANL team program manager, Dixon oversaw an annual $12-million budget devoted to creating and studying geological and geochemical tests that Los Alamos was conducting. Under two different Department of Energy (DOE) contractors, Dixon was the deputy science manager for the Yucca Mountain project and managed an annual budget of approximately $85 million and support from seven national laboratories, twelve subcontractors, and four universities. He also briefed congressional committees and officials from four states. During the final year Dixon worked on the Yucca Mountain project, he also became the technical manager of the post-closure criticality group.

Since the federal government's abandonment of the Yucca Mountain project, Dixon has applied his unparalleled understanding of hazardous waste management to a career involving safe and cost-effective cleanup of environmental contamination at former DOE weapons production sites. Dixon is currently the senior program manager for environmental sciences within the civilian nuclear program office at LANL and is also the multi-lab program manager for the DOE's Advanced Simulation Capability for Environmental Management (ASCEM) program. The ASCEM program is developing standardized state-of-the-art modeling software to facilitate both a better understanding and communication of the cleanup decisions for contaminated soil and groundwater across the former DOE weapons complex. As the multi-lab program manager, he supervises a 30-person team of the nation's foremost geochemists, hydrologists, mathematicians, and computer scientists from the Los Alamos, Berkeley, Pacific Northwest, Oak Ridge, and Savannah River laboratories. In 2014, Dixon's team released a research version of the ASCEM program to the scientific community for their evaluation and feedback.

Dixon currently serves as chair of the Clark County, Nevada, Wildlife Advisory Board, volunteers with Youth Charities of Southern Nevada, and is a volunteer science teacher with the Clark County School District of Southern Nevada.

Dixon holds master's and doctoral degrees in geochemistry from Yale University. He and his wife, Mary Lou, live in Las Vegas and are the parents of three grown children (Ian, Jessica, and Hannah) and one grandchild (Gavin).

Carolyn Aishton Ouderkirk, ’64

Carolyn Aishton Ouderkirk, '64French high school students, business executives, Albion alumni, and women around the world have all benefitted from Carolyn Aishton Ouderkirk's dedication to professional excellence, education, and her alma mater. Ouderkirk pursued a hard-driving business career while maintaining a lifelong devotion to service, especially on behalf of Albion College.

Ouderkirk spent 24 years at Avon Products, Inc., eventually becoming vice president of corporate affairs. At Avon, she oversaw training programs for some 500,000 Avon representatives, directed Avon's $20-million sponsorship of the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, organized an Avon partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration, and headed the Avon Women's Breast Cancer Crusade globally to raise awareness and funding for breast cancer research.

Following her retirement from Avon, Ouderkirk spent eight years as an independent consultant, teaching business communication skills and offering executive training and coaching. This education-focused work brought Ouderkirk full circle to her first 11 years out of Albion, spent teaching English for a year in France as a Fulbright-Hays Teaching Fellow, and teaching French and Spanish to elementary, high school, and college students in Michigan, Illinois, and Vermont.

Despite the many demands of her professional life, Ouderkirk's work on behalf of Albion College has remained constant and significant. She spent six years on Albion's Alumni Association Board of Directors, followed by 15 years on Albion's Board of Trustees, much of that time as the only woman on the executive committee. At their 45th reunion, Ouderkirk and a committee of her classmates presented the Class of 1964 with an ambitious five-year plan for their 50th reunion. The Class of 1964 Faculty Tribute Scholarship is well on the way to its $250,000 fundraising goal. Ouderkirk has served on a number of College advisory boards, worked on Albion capital campaigns, chaired class reunions, co-chaired a leadership campaign, organized events for New York-area alumni, and mentored Gerstacker Institute students. She has maintained close friendships with Albion faculty and residents of Albion, decades after graduation.

Ouderkirk holds a master's degree in French literature from the University of Michigan. As an Albion undergraduate, she held leadership roles in a number of organizations, including Kappa Delta sorority and student government.

She and her husband, Jerry, live in New York City and Sag Harbor, New York.

Albion Recognizes Three Distinguished Alumni at Homecoming (2015)

Rick L. Going, ’77

Rick L. Going, '77Division President, Kroger Company
Nashville, Tennessee

Starting as co-manager of a Kroger store in 1981, Going has held positions at the store, district, and division level, and served as the vice president for transition at the general office. Going spent 2007-13 as president of the Michigan Division, helping Kroger Co. reach the top of Forbes magazine's list of companies that give back the most. Going's division distributed more than eight million meals through regional charitable organizations. In 2010 alone, Michigan store campaigns raised nearly $2 million for Michigan schools, philanthropies and nonprofit organizations. During that same period, the Michigan Division earned a Pure Michigan award, a Forgotten Harvest award, and the Michigan Food and Beverage Association Retailer of the Year Award. Going was also vice president of Detroit's Forgotten Harvest, awhichcollects surplus food from area restaurants and retail stores. Going is one of only eight Albion Sigma Chis to receive the national "Significant Sig" award.

Katherine Y. Look, ’75

Katherine Y. Look, '75Senior Medical Director, Genentech Incorporated
San Francisco, California

At Genentech, Look serves on the team that gained FDA approval of Avastin for treatment of recurrent, persistent or metastatic cervix cancer and for platin-resistant ovary cancer. An angiogenesis inhibitor, killing cancers by preventing the formation of blood vessels that feed them, Avastin is an important new option for exceptionally challenging cancers. Look previously spent 22 years as professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Indiana University (IU) School of Medicine. During her academic career, Look received research grants totaling nearly $700,000. She has held executive positions with the national the Society of Gynecologic Oncology and the Society of Memorial Gynecologic Oncologists. Honored for excellence in teaching by the Association of Professors of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the IU School of Medicine, Look has also been recognized by Ladies Home Journal on its list of "Top Doctors for Women Coast to Coast." At Albion, Look was a member of Alpha Lambda Delta and Phi Beta Kappa.

William R. Payne, ’75

William R. Payne, '75Vice Chairman, Amway Corporation
Ada, Michigan

Payne is involved in day-to-day management of the global Alticor Inc., enterprise, which includes Amway. Early in his career, Payne worked in Amway's marketing department before pursuing in marketing and sales management at Owens-Illinois, a partnership with mergers and acquisitions firm Payne-Zwiep and service as president of the Windquest Group. He returned to Amway in 2000 as executive vice president. Along with his wife, Jillane Lynas Payne, '75, Payne is a devoted Albion graduate; he has advised the College on current downtown revitalization efforts in Albion. The Paynes have sponsored regional alumni events, and Bill arranged Alticor flight travel for former First Lady Barbara Bush's visit to campus in 2005. At Albion College, Payne was president of Sigma Chi fraternity and served as head resident in Whitehouse Hall. He holds an M.B.A. from Bowling Green State University.

Six to Receive Distinguished Alumni Award at Homecoming 2013

Robinson Hall

Robinson Hall

An airline CEO, the founder of a camp for children with serious health issues and President Obama’s campaign finance manager are among Albion College’s 2013 Distinguished Alumni Award recipients. The awardees will be honored Friday, October 11, as part of Albion’s Homecoming Weekend festivities.


Sharing Memories of Elkin Isaac, '48

Elkin Isaac, '48Alumni and friends of Albion College, as well as the entire Albion and surrounding communities, are encouraged to express their thoughts about Elkin R. Isaac, '48, who passed away August 13, 2013.

Over three decades as a star student-athlete, coach and administrator, Isaac "personified Albion College," according to former Britons men's basketball coach and fellow Albion legend Mike Turner, '69. Since 1997, the annual student research symposium has borne his name.

Comments can be emailed to  and will be published on this page. Comments can also be read and added on Facebook and Twitter.

I extend my deepest sympathy to Ike's family at his passing. I remember several important "learning experiences" as a result of my interactions with Ike over the years—lessons learned and not forgotten. He was a stalwart—a person of the highest integrity. Ike along with Morley had an important role in helping me understand many things about how to go forward in life. His coaching role was an ideal platform from which he could teach life lessons to the many generations of Albion College students whose lives he touched. He will be missed.

John Vournakis, '61


I first met Ike in 1958 at an Albion/Calvin track meet in Grand Rapids. I was a high school senior who’d committed to Albion College. I told Ike that I hadn’t participated in high school athletics but really wanted to do the weights in college. Ike gave me an old, rubber college discus and told me to start throwing. I did so every night during the summer.

I went to Albion in the fall and subsequently threw the discus for Ike (and Albion College) for four years. During that time, Ike became a mentor to me. He was a man of impeccable character who embodied all the finest values of athletic competition. Under the tutelage of Ike and Morley Fraser, I grew immensely in many of the qualities that both defined and strengthened me for four decades of parish ministry.

Rev. Thomas E. Sagendorf, ‘62


I never ran track for one of Ike’s teams, but I heard what he told one of his high-jumpers. “Son, it’s about more than jumping over a stick.” I played basketball and baseball at Albion, but I was one of his sons. There were more than a few of us over the years.

So if high-jumping was not really about jumping over a stick, what was it really about? For Ike, what mattered most is what we’re all really about way down deep: We are physical, intellectual and spiritual creations with a moral sense. Our obligation to ourselves––and an educator’s obligation to us––is to develop the best of what we’re really about way down deep. For Ike, coach, winning was never––never––merely about jumping higher than or getting ahead of the next guy. For Ike, teacher, learning was never merely about getting a job. One important thing Ike taught me over the fifty years I was one of his “sons” is how important it is to pass the ball.

He worked hard at helping us do well at the games we wanted to play, for he understood how important it is to prepare for hard times. From his boyhood in Chicago he knew well the troubles of tough street life, and he knew what it’s like to be held hostage to circumstance as a quiet hero inside the cockpit of a plane that somehow survived missions flying fuel supplies across the English Channel during World War II. Though his kind and intelligent wife, Edie, was at his side along with his loving daughter, Susan, he choked down the profound grief of losing his son, Ron, from an illness that took a talented youth and his gifts away in his prime. He knew from experience that life was a hard game to get right. It required hard work, and long study, and discipline, and mental alertness, and physical fitness, and high energy, honesty, compassion, graciousness, and passion for social justice.

We, his sons, loved this man. For most of us, our dads were so absent in their work he became the father we were missing out on.  He, and his fathering, stayed with us for decades after our four years at Albion College were up. Several of his “sons” made annual pilgrimages to his home in Kalamazoo, then Lake Forest, Ill., then Fort Myers, Fla. There we talked and laughed and ate good food, and there Ike held us to scheduled “seminars” during which we, representing disciplines as diverse as physics and philosophy, had to express our views on several carefully selected major issues of the day. There, too, he called time out from our serious discussions to insist we live up to the requirements of our abductors, quadriceps, and external obliques. In his Fort Myers years he shooed us into the swimming pool along with his faithful following of old-timers in the 75-85 year-old range. Together we did his bidding––we did the daily workout needed to get in shape and stay in shape––because the body has a way of working its way into the heart and mind. It was Albion College all over again, fifty years later in Florida.

I got my worst grade at Albion from Ike. In a term paper I had inadequately described the kinesiology of the bones, muscles, and ligaments involved when a pitcher (like me at the time) throws a curveball toward home plate. “No, son,” he said, “you can do better than this.” He knew it, too.

We loved Ike, and Ike loved Albion, especially when he insisted, “You can do better than this.” He saw that the College’s future depended on its maintaining a meaningful sense of mission within an actively dedicated community. Competition was a way for individuals and groups to test their limits rather than to conquer rivals. He understood, with compassion, the problems underdogs and losers face. For this reason he kept reaching out beyond the comfort zone of the Albion campus, and tried hard to tie the College more meaningfully to a troubled and divided town. He knew that fair play could only happen on a level playing field.

Cedric Dempsey, one of Ike’s “sons” and my varsity basketball coach at Albion, informed me about Ike’s passing. I had talked to Ike by phone some days earlier and sensed that he knew his time was coming soon. He seemed perfectly at ease with the fact.

I wrote to Cedric:  “I loved the man, with the kind of love that is not merely softly sentimental but based on reasoned respect for his basic qualities. Mind, body, and moral sense––these are what he educated and trained. He personified what an Albion education came to mean to me…. I’ve been thinking a lot about what ‘spirit’ is recently. Spirit is presence, and presence is power. Ike is in me, Ced, and he’s in you, too, and a whole lot of the rest of us who know––present tense––him. Our names will fade, and his will, too, but his presence will remain as a power to be reckoned with long after we become anonymous. Good things happen when the ball is passed properly––unselfishly and artfully. Ike passed his life to us––unselfishly, artfully, and with beautiful passion.”

Emilio DeGrazia, '63
Winona, MN

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