Higher Education and Human Resources

WMU names board officers

January 28, 2015
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WMU names board officers
James Hettinger. Courtesy WMU

Western Michigan University has named the people who will lead its board in 2015.

Board officers

WMU said last week that James Hettinger of Fennville was re-elected chair of the WMU Board of Trustees and Kenneth Miller of Kalamazoo was elected vice chair of the governing body.

Both Hettinger and Miller are past recipients of the WMU Distinguished Alumni Award.

The one-year-term elections were made during a recent board meeting and were accompanied by other board officer appointments: Betty Kocher, secretary to the board; Jan Van Der Kley, treasurer and assistant secretary; and Patti Van Walbeck, assistant treasurer.

Several other members make up the board: James Bolger of Whitehall; Dana Debel of Ann Arbor; Ron Hall of Detroit; William Johnston of Portage; and Jeffrey Rinvelt of Ann Arbor.

WMU board members are appointed by the governor of Michigan to serve eight-year terms.

The WMU Board of Trustees supervises the institution and its expenditures and is responsible for affirming the ideal of academic excellence and providing access to an excellent education for those who attend the university, according to the board’s bylaws.

James Hettinger

Hettinger served as the head of the economic development organization Battle Creek Unlimited for 30 years before retiring in 2008. Shortly thereafter, he was asked to serve as interim executive director when his successor resigned.

WMU said Hettinger received letters of commendations from former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush for attracting nearly 100 companies and 9,400 jobs to Battle Creek’s Fort Custer Industrial Park.

Kenneth Miller

Miller replaces Mary Asmonga-Knapp of Battle Creek as the vice chair of the board. Asmonga-Knapp was slated to be elected for a second term. She will remain on the board as a member until her term ends on Dec. 31, 2016.

“I have been vice chair and chair in the past, but at the board meeting, Mary chose to withdraw and nominated me in her place," Miller said. "Frankly, it was a surprise, but of course, I accepted.”

Miller is a principal with Havirco in Kalamazoo, an investment management firm, and owns the southwest Michigan-based Millennium Restaurant Group.

Originally appointed to the board by former Gov. John Engler, Miller was re-appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder to serve in his second eight-year term.

Entering into his 13th year as a member of the board, Miller said he was interested in participating on the board for a number of reasons, including being an alum of WMU as an undergraduate and graduate student.

“I have been actively involved in several other fronts over the years and the opportunity to serve it at the highest level was a great honor,” Miller said. “I have lived in this town for 50-plus years, and I know there is a significant inter-relationship between the university and the community. So I have been active in both, and I wanted to do whatever I could to assist in that relationship.”

Miller has served as chair of the WMU board twice and led the president search committee, which ultimately appointed John Dunn as president of WMU in 2007. 

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