During his 28 years at Kettering University, Ricky Brown has made a career of enabling student success in his role as Director of Multicultural Student Initiatives.
Now, Brown has been honored by his own undergraduate university for his commitment to helping students of color graduate from Kettering University and his dedication to community service and the success of children and young adults outside of his job.
On Nov. 8, Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU) presented Brown with the Distinguished Alumni Award in acknowledgement of his years of leading, mentoring, working and volunteering with organizations such as Kettering University, Genesee Intermediate School District and the Genesee County Juvenile Court System, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Flint, Kingdom Academy and Linden Charter Academy.
“To be recognized by my alma mater for the work I’ve done since leaving SVSU means a lot to me,” said Brown, who received his bachelor’s degree in Speech Communications in 1985 and followed it up with a master's in Higher Education Administration and Community Leadership from Central Michigan University. “It started here (SVSU) with being a leader and having a winning attitude, and I wanted to go up from there, not down.”
That winning attitude was exemplified by Brown’s achievements in both academics and athletics. An All-American track star whose team netted two National Championships, he was inducted into the SVSU Athletic Hall of Fame three times for Track & Field (2011, 2013 and 2015).
Brown credits his own college experience as an inspiration to lead by example and to give back to both the workforce and the community.
At Kettering University, Brown oversees initiatives and programs tailored to provide multicultural student success. As Director, he facilitates collaboration between faculty, staff and leadership to provide tutoring, mentoring, scholarship information, career guidance and more. He also is the Director of the Academically Interested Minds (AIM) Program at the University. This five-week residential summer experience, specifically for rising high school seniors of color interested in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. Students are enrolled in college-level courses with labs to develop functional, quantitative and qualitative skills including Business Management, Computer Programming, Applied Mathematics and Applied Physics.
During his evening hours, Brown works with the Genesee Intermediate School District and the Genesee County Juvenile Court System as a CHILL (Civility Helps Individuals Live Longer) Facilitator. This role requires him to teach young people conflict resolution, decision making and social problem-solving skills.
SVSU isn’t the only institution that has recognized Brown’s many contributions personally and professionally. In 2009, he was awarded Kettering University’s first-ever Pillar of Excellence Award, a high honor for a staff member to receive. He is also the recipient of multiple academic accolades, including the 2016 Pre-College Director of the Year Award presented by the National Association of Multicultural Engineering Program Advocates. This award is given to the top pre-college STEM program director in the United States.
“Ultimately, I love seeing and believing in the success of the students I work with at Kettering and playing even a small part in changing the lives of the youth of our community for the better,” Brown said.