Each year, University of Detroit Mercy chooses an alumnus from each of its Colleges or Schools to honor as someone who has excelled in his or her profession, demonstrated outstanding leadership in work and devoted himself or herself in service to the larger community. Award recipients reflect the University’s mission of excellence and service and bring pride to their alma mater.
This year, the University will honor the careers of seven men at a special ceremony Friday, Oct. 1, at the Fillmore Hotel Detroit. We will introduce the award winners on this blog before the event. If you are interested in attending the event, you can purchase tickets at udmercy.edu/awards.
For 2021, the College of Health Professions & McAuley School of Nursing will honor Derk Pronger, Chief Operating Officer, Beaumont, Farmington Hills..
In 1991, Pronger began his career in healthcare as a financial accountant for St. Elizabeth Hospital in Lafayette, Ind., while completing a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Purdue University. He returned to Michigan to complete a master’s degree in Health Services Administration at University of Detroit Mercy in 1994.
In his final year at Detroit Mercy, he began an internship at Beaumont Health in Troy, Mich., where he worked for 18 years serving as an operations analyst, director of management engineering and vice president.
Pronger left Beaumont in 2012 to return to his hometown of Traverse City. There he became chief operating officer, responsible for the day-to-day operations at Munson Medical Center, a 442-licensed bed, full-service tertiary hospital with Level II trauma serving northern Michigan. He returned to southeast Michigan to become COO of Beaumont, Farmington Hills, a major osteopathic teaching facility with residency and fellowship programs.
He is a fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), the foremost professional society for healthcare executives.
Pronger is engaged in community initiatives around the improvement of youth health through recreational opportunities for children. One organization, Norte, is an advocacy organization dedicated to building a more bike-friendly community by inspiring young people through bicycles.
The other men who will receive the Alumni Spirit Award this year are:
- Clifford C. Cook ’69, ’70, College of Engineering & Science, retired Senior Vice President, Marathon Petroleum Company LLC
- Joseph Coriaty ’78, School of Architecture, Managing Partner, Frederick Fisher & Partners
- Henry G. (Hank) Durkin ’73, College of Liberal Arts & Education, retired Technical Account Manager, Microsoft
- Eric J. Hespenheide ’75, College of Business Administration, retired Partner, Deloitte & Touche LLP
- Vernon R. (Ven) Johnson ’86, School of Law, Owner and Founding Member, Johnson Law PLC
- Richard Persiani, D.D.S. ’73, M.S., School of Dentistry, Affiliate Professor, Detroit Mercy Dental
Check back to see their stories.