Northwood Presents 2017 Dealer Education Awards

Photo caption: Dealer Education Award 2017 honorees and Northwood students gather with President Pretty for the award ceremony. Front row L-R: George Sharpe, Jr. (representing George Sharpe, Sr.), Larry Mullinax, Eve Knudtsen, Russ Banks, Robert Ourisman, Mitch Walters (not pictured Ryan LaFontaine). Back row: NU President Keith Pretty and students Leann Colella, Charles Elledge, Norma Benavides, Kendra Taylor, Harry Collins, Shane Maurer, Nicholas Kret

At the NADA convention and expo in January, Northwood honored seven automotive dealers from across the U.S. for their dedication to and support of education. Created in 1972 by Northwood’s cofounders, Arthur Turner and Gary Stauffer, the annual Dealer Education Award (DEA) recognizes dealers who serve their communities and the automotive industry by making noteworthy contributions to public and private education.

The 2017 honorees included five Northwood alumni, the most to receive the award in a single year.

“All of the honorees are fierce champions for education in their communities. The number and variety of their contributions underscore the depth of their dedication,” said Warren Mault, senior advancement director, who leads the university’s DEA program. “Since it’s in our ‘Northwood DNA’ to help students understand the importance of involvement in their communities and of giving back, we found it very rewarding to recognize so many Northwood graduates.”

The 2017 DEA honorees were:

  • Russell Banks, ’85, Dealer Principal, R.D. Banks Chevrolet, Warren, Ohio
  • Eve Knudtsen, ’10, President, Knudtsen Chevrolet, Post Falls, Idaho
  • Ryan LaFontaine, ’99, CEO, LaFontaine Cadillac Buick GMC, Highland, Mich.
  • Lawrence Mullinax, ’83, Owner, Mullinax Ford, New Smyrna Beach, Fla.
  • Robert Ourisman, Dealer Principal, Ourisman Automotive Group, Rockville, Md.
  • George Sharpe, President, The Sharpe Collection, Grand Rapids, Mich.
  • Steven “Mitch” Walters, ’76, President & CEO, Friendship Enterprises, Bristol, Tenn.


    About Northwood University

    Northwood University is committed to the most personal attention to prepare students for success in their careers and in their communities; it promotes critical thinking skills, personal effectiveness, and the importance of ethics, individual freedom and responsibility.

    Private, nonprofit, and accredited, Northwood University specializes in managerial and entrepreneurial education at a full-service, residential campus located in mid-Michigan. Adult Degree Programs are available in multiple states and online. The DeVos Graduate School offers accelerated, evening and weekend programming in Michigan and Texas. The Alden B. Dow Center for Creativity and Enterprise provides system-wide expertise in family enterprise, entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation, and new business development. International education is offered through study abroad and in Program Centers in China (Changchun and Wuxi), Malaysia and Sri Lanka.