Distinguished Alumni Award

Every year, the WMU Alumni Association honors and celebrates the alumni who bring distinction to their alma mater through professional achievements. Established in 1963, the Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes graduates of Western Michigan University who have achieved a high level of success in their chosen fields.

The WMU Alumni Association is pleased to announce the 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients:

Judge Gershwin A. Drain (B.A. ’70, Secondary Education), U.S. District Court For the Eastern District of Michigan, and
James M. Field, II (B.B.A. ’85, Accountancy), President, Deere & Company

To learn more about the 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award Reception, visit MyWMU.com/DAReception.

2016 Recipients

Judge Gershwin A. Drain (B.A. ’70, Secondary Education)

Judge Drain was nominated by President Barack Obama to become the U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Michigan and was confirmed for the position by an act of Senate in 2012. Throughout his career, Judge Drain has worked in various positions in the legal system, beginning in 1972 as a law clerk for the Third Circuit Court of Michigan. He also served as counsel for the Detroit Department of Transportation, an attorney in the Federal Defender’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan, judge of the Recorder’s Court for the City of Detroit, and judge for Michigan’s Third Judicial Circuit Court in Wayne County.

Additionally, Judge Drain has served on many boards for community and religious organizations, and was named Michiganian of the Year by the Detroit News in 1997. Judge Drain played football for the Broncos between 1967-70 and earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Secondary Education from WMU in 1970. He also holds a Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School in 1972, and a Masters of Judicial Studies from University of Nevada-Reno in 1991. He and his wife, Meredith, have two daughters, both of whom are lawyers. Click here to read more.

James M. Field, II (B.B.A. ’85, Accountancy)

James M. Field has spent much of his career at Deere & Company, one of today’s most highly admired businesses. Currently the President, Agriculture and Turf Division – Americas, Australia, and Global Harvesting & Turf Platforms, Mr. Field began his career with Deloitte & Touche, a major international accounting, tax, and consulting firm in 1984 and enjoyed several promotions before joining Deere & Company in 1994. Beginning as manager of consolidations, Mr. Field has served the company in various positions, including in accounting, treasury, business development, and planning; as chief financial officer of Deere’s former Timberjack Group; vice president and comptroller; and president, Worldwide Commercial & Consumer Equipment Division. In 2009, he was promoted to senior vice president and chief financial officer. In 2012, he accepted his current position.

As a student at Western Michigan University, Mr. Field was a member of Beta Alpha Psi, the national honors fraternity for financial information professionals. He earned a Bachelor of  Business Administration in Accountancy in 1985. Mr. Field and his wife, Jayne, have two children. Click here to read more.

Past Recipients

To view the recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Award, please click here.

Nominate an Alumnus or Alumna

To nominate an alumnus or alumna for a 2017 award, please complete the online form.