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LMC Alumni Association seeks nominations, names service award after late Dr. Gladys Peeples-Burks

The Lake Michigan College Alumni Association Board of Directors is seeking nominations for its 2023 Alumni Awards, including the newly christened Dr. Gladys Peeples-Burks Alumni Service Award in honor of the longtime college advocate who died in February at age 94.

"Dr. Gladys Peeples-Burks was the matriarch of the LMC Alumni Association," LMC's Director of Career Services and Alumni Engagement Barbara Craig said. "She served for more than 20 years on the alumni board and was a member of the first graduating class of LMC. Gladys was just remarkable. She embodied what it means to serve your community with dignity, grace, and resilience. That is why the LMC Alumni Board has renamed the Alumni Service Award in her honor."

Nominations for the Gladys Peeples-Burks Alumni Service Award, Clarence Beckwith Distinguished Alumni Award, and Alumni Achievement Award must be received by July 6 for consideration. Recipients will be announced in September.

To be eligible, alumni must have graduated from LMC or its predecessor, Benton Harbor Community College, or taken at least 30 semester hours. LMC first presented its Alumni Awards in 1986. Since then, more than 80 individuals have been honored.

"We know our alumni make a difference every day, and we want to share their stories," Craig said. "The Lake Michigan College Alumni Awards program allows us to do just that by recognizing alumni who have distinguished themselves in their career, service to their community, and Lake Michigan College – people like Gladys."

Dr. Burks was a member of the first graduating class of Benton Harbor Junior College, now Lake Michigan College, receiving her associate degree in 1948. After retiring from Michigan Bell Telephone Co., she earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Western Michigan University and eventually education specialist and doctorate degrees from Michigan State University.

A strong advocate for public education, Dr. Burks worked in Benton Harbor Area Schools as a teacher, elementary school principal, and director of state and federal programs. She served three terms on the Benton Harbor Area School Board, including four years as its president.

A tireless community advocate, she was a member of the American Association of University Women (AAUW), the League of Women Voters, the Twin City Arts Council, Southwest Michigan Women's Political Coalition, past president of Rho Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma, and the Berrien County Extension Service Council of Michigan State University. In addition to the LMC Alumni Board, Dr. Burks served on the board of Chemical Bank, Region Four Area Agency on Aging, Berrien Community Foundation, Berrien County Association of Retired School Personnel, Southwest Michigan Race Relations Council, and Calling All Colors.

She was a member of the Benton Harbor-St. Joseph Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., a charter member of the Benton Harbor Chapter of Charms, and a lifetime member of the NAACP serving through the Twin City Area Branch.

"Gladys set the standard for serving your community," LMC Alumni Board President Kevin Miller said. "She was a tireless advocate for the community. Her work and love for Lake Michigan College were inspirational. She set the standard, and I can't think of a better way to honor her legacy of giving than by naming this award after her."

To nominate an individual for the 2023 LMC Alumni Awards, please email Barbara Craig at or complete and submit the Alumni Award Program Nomination Form at

The three alumni award categories are:

Gladys Peeples-Burks Alumni Service Award

This award is given to an alumnus who has offered significant personal or professional contributions to LMC or the community. The community is broadly interpreted as local, the state of Michigan, or the nation.

Clarence Beckwith Distinguished Alumni Award

Named in honor of the first President of Lake Michigan College, this award is given to an LMC alumnus who has accomplished significant success in their personal or professional endeavors.

Alumni Achievement Award

This award is presented to a recent alumnus who attended LMC within the past 15 years, demonstrated significant achievement, and distinguished themselves in their career, education, or community.

A list of previous winners can be found at

For more information or to suggest a nominee, email Barbara Craig at or call 269-927-8147.


Gladys Peeples-Burks

Gladys Peeples-Burks

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Jeremy D. Bonfiglio
Marketing & Communications Specialist
Lake Michigan College
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