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Alumni executives awarded for excellence at 2013 Annual Recognition and Awards Program
April 25, 2013

Wayne State University presented the Executive of the Year Award, Distinguished Alumnus Award and Emerging Leader Award to three alumni who have demonstrated that they not only have excelled in their fields, but also continue to support WSU in various ways.

Robert G. Riney, president and chief operating officer of Henry Ford Health System, was awarded the Executive of the Year Award. Riney is a 1982 graduate of WSU.

“I am honored to be recognized by a university that is doing such a stellar job in cultivating our region’s future talent and leaders,” Riney said.

Riney has been with Henry Ford Health System since 1998 and has held his current position since 2011. In 2012, the Henry Ford Innovation Institute opened its doors and allowed students from WSU to collaborate in shaping the future of healthcare through medical innovations.

“One of my favorite days is going over and listening to the projects from students because if they come in with any sense of intimidation, they certainly shed themselves of that quickly as they go through the process. It’s one of those moments that you just enjoy because you’re listening to certain ideas and you give yourself permission to feel stupid and say ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’ and it’s a good thing,” Riney said in an interview with Detroiter Magazine last month.

David E. Meador, executive vice president and chief financial officer at DTE Energy, was honored with the Distinguished Alumnus Award. Meador is a board member on the Wayne State University Foundation. He earned both his bachelor’s in accounting in 1979 and M.B.A. in 1988 from WSU.

“The classes at Wayne State were tough, especially the accounting theory classes. I had to work hard for my grades and it helped to have friends in Beta Alpha, the precursor to Beta Alpha Psi, because we would study together,” Meador said.

“What I didn’t appreciate at the time was that the classes taught me the fundamentals of economics, accounting and finance that would serve me for the next 30 years,” he said.

Meador was the founding president of the Beta Alpha Psi chapter at WSU.

“Many of the leaders in the founding group went on to do great things in their lives and now are in a position to give back to the community,” Meador said.

Meador has advice for current students.

“When you can combine business acumen with people skills, you have a powerful combination,” he said.

Kirk King, a 2006 graduate of WSU’s School of Business Administration, received the Emerging Leader Award. King’s journey was not easy, but since childhood he knew he wanted to be an entrepreneur.

In 2001, King graduated with honors from Lawrence Technical University with his undergraduate degree. He completed the M.B.A. program at WSU with honors.

King has spoken to students in Gary Shields’ entrepreneurial management class about the importance of differentiation and diversification.

“I wanted to reiterate that Gary spoke the truth,” King said. “Do not buy a company unless you are willing to work 80 hours a week [and] live and breathe the company for many years, if not decades.”

King bought Continuity Programs Inc., a database marketing company that provides client follow-up programs. He was able to save the struggling company at the brink of bankruptcy and has returned it to profitability by transforming it into an intelligent database marketing company with an ever-growing client list.

King recalled Shields saying that it is less risky to buy an existing company and transform it than to start one from scratch.

“That statement resonated with me for years,” King said.

These awards were presented at the Detroit Institute of Arts during the Annual Recognition and Awards Program on April 23.