April 26, 2013
Presentation to be made during 66th Annual Commencement Event
BENTON TOWNSHIP, MI – Lake Michigan College will award an honorary degree to Merlin Hanson during the 66th annual commencement exercise being held at the LMC Mendel Center on Sunday, May 5, at 2 p.m. The honorary Associate in Skilled Trades Technology degree recognizes Hanson for his special leadership and support of Lake Michigan College and the southwest Michigan region.
Always a toolmaker at heart, Hanson is also an entrepreneur, corporate leader, and community advocate who values education as a keystone to success. After graduating from his apprenticeship and becoming a toolmaker, Hanson took that industry knowledge and used it to build two very successful tool and mold making companies known as Hanson Mold and Eagle Technologies.
When he sold his company that was not the end of a career, but the start of something bigger. Today, operating under the banner of Hanson Group, Hanson’s business pursuits are as diverse and important to our region as are his social and educational interests. The Hanson Group contributes to the region’s agricultural, natural water resources, manufacturing, and high–tech engineering sectors. Providing employment for more than 450 people, Hanson Group is a critical component of the region’s economy.
As the manufacturing industry evolved with new technologies and ways of doing business, Hanson understood that strong education and training programs would be fundamental to helping businesses thrive in a global economy. He took his first-hand knowledge and vision with him when he joined the Lake Michigan College Board of Trustees in 1982. As a member, and later as board chairman, he was an advocate for the College’s career and technical programs. Later, he became the first chairman of Cornerstone Alliance and helped build that organization into a regional leader in economic and community development.
An avid art collector, Hanson believes in the value the arts contribute to creating strong communities. To advance that cause Hanson helped lead the effort to build the Mendel Center. The leadership support Hanson and his wife Carolyn brought to that campaign led to the naming of the Hanson Theatre. Additionally, more than 30 pieces of art displayed in the Mendel Center were donated by Hanson and Carolyn from their personal collection.
“Merlin’s influence and leadership has a widely felt impact on our region through job creation, economic diversification, and overall quality of life,” stated LMC President Dr. Robert Harrison. “The College is proud to have him as a member of our family and to now include him as an honorary degree holder.”
This is the first honorary degree that Lake Michigan College has awarded.