RARE Foundation honors UM-Dearborn's Partners Plus director with award for contributions to community

October 26, 2006


DEARBORN / Oct. 26, 2006---Michael Thomas, director of the Partners Plus program at the University of Michigan-Dearborn and Henry Ford Community College, was one of eight people to be named a 2006 “Everyday Hero” by the RARE Foundation.

The honor recognizes individuals who make significant contributions in their field of work by serving as a positive role model and going above and beyond their work to benefit and inspire others.

As a RARE award winner, Thomas will receive a $1,000 honorarium, a crystal trophy, recognition at the foundation’s annual “Night of Heroes” dinner and will have his story documented in a character education program for youth called Everyday Heroes.

UM-Dearborn alumna Alina Johnson, who graduated recently from the School of Management with a bachelor’s in business administration, nominated Thomas for the award. Johnson also is a magna cum laude graduate with an associate degree in business administration at Henry Ford Community College, where she met Thomas.

“He genuinely cares about each and every student he comes in contact with, which is very evident if you meet him,” Johnson said. “As a Partners Plus mentor and participant, I have had opportunities that are immeasurable such as leadership opportunities, benefiting from tutoring, academic advising, student workshops and the like.”

The Partners Plus program assists students who start their education at community colleges hoping to enter degree programs at UM-Dearborn. The program helps develop students’ critical thinking and professional leadership skills as they move toward a bachelor degree and offers academic advising, developmental workshops on a variety of topics, leadership training, mentoring, tutoring, financial literary programs and scholarships.

Under Thomas’ leadership during the past 10 years, the program has grown from serving 40 students a year to serving more than 400 in 2005. In 2000, Partners Plus received the Michigan Association of Collegiate Registrars Award for promoting and encouraging educational opportunities for minorities.

“Mike Thomas has created a culture of diversity and empowerment by demanding that students take charge of their lives and do their best to perform with excellence every day,” according to the Everyday Heroes supplement published by the RARE Foundation and the Detroit News “Newspapers in Education” program. “He allows students to have input into every new element of the program and he immediately set out to kill the myth that being smart was bad for minorities.”

RARE, which stands for Recognizing Achievement and Rewarding Excellence, was founded in 1998 by attorney Gil Cox, Jr. “to reinforce the values that truly matter in life,” according to the foundation’s Web site.



CONTACT: Jennifer Sroka
PHONE: 313-593-5644
The Office of University Relations
Room 1040, Administration Building
University of Michigan-Dearborn