The University of Michigan Board of Regents honored retiring Alumni Association President and CEO Steve Grafton during a meeting on Sept. 22.
The regents formally thanked Grafton with a proclamation and gifted him with a football jersey with the number 28 on it, a nod to his 28 years of service to the Alumni Association.
“I’m particularly proud of the Alumni Association’s deep commitment to equity and inclusion and Steve’s dedication in welcoming all,” said U-M President Mary Sue Coleman. “He was always focused on the future diversity of our student body.”
Coleman pointed to Grafton’s effort to establish the LEAD Scholarship, which provides scholarships to high-achieving Black, Latinx, and Native American students who have been accepted to U-M.
“This program is a powerful testament to Steve’s vision, the generosity of donors, and the appeal of a Michigan education,” Coleman said.
Since 2008, more than 600 students have been awarded scholarships through the LEAD program.
Grafton said he was humbled by the comments.
“My greatest honor is the opportunity to spend 28 years as a member of the Michigan family, and to pursue things that I am most passionate about. Namely, education and justice,” Grafton said in his remarks.
He said that although he was retiring, the work was far from complete.
“Over time, I’ve come to understand that our systems, our structures, our institutions, were not perfectly designed to provide equal opportunities for everyone,” he said. “Sadly, we’re still living with some systems that actually were perfectly designed to do the opposite — to keep certain segments of society from realizing the kinds of dreams that we all share. So there’s more justice work to be done.”
Grafton said he was thrilled to be handing over the reins of the Alumni Association to Corie Pauling, ’93.
“In her, you will find a partner to continue the University’s most important work. I only ask you that you accept her and love her the way you have accepted and loved me,” he told the Regents and University executive team.
Jeremy Carroll is the content strategist for the Alumni Association of the University of Michigan.