Bemidji State names eight new Outstanding Alumni

BEMIDJI, Minn. – Eight individuals will be honored as Outstanding Alumni of Bemidji State University during induction ceremonies to be held this fall in conjunction with the University’s Homecoming activities.

Bemidji State’s 2008 Outstanding Alumni are: Col. Randall Anderson ‘85 of Silver Springs, Md.; Mark Backlin ‘78 of Colorado Springs, Colo.; Leah Carpenter ‘85 of Bemidji, Minn.; Linda Erceg ‘88 of Bemidji, Minn.; Anthony Gramer ‘69 of Bloomfield Hills, Mich.; Peggy Ingison ‘74 of New Brighton, Minn.; Scott Lindberg ‘75 of Mill Valley, Calif.; and Benjamin Tsang ‘71 of Nepean, Ontario, Canada.

• Col. Randall Anderson ‘85 graduated from BSU with a bachelor of science degree in computer science. He is currently the director of the Military Vaccine Agency in the Office of the Surgeon General, and in July will be reassigned to a commander position at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, where he will oversee approximately 10,000 Army medical personnel. A highly-decorated military veteran, Anderson also has served as the office mentor for the U.S. Senate Youth Program; was the White House Social Aide from 1994-97, serving the President and Vice President during official White House events; was the Commander-in-Chief’s representative for the laying of official wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery for Memorial Day in 1997; and currently serves as a volunteer at the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Washington, D.C. He also has been involved with a broad variety of educational and charity programs for children.

Anderson, who currently is pursuing a Ph.D. in international health medicine, also holds master’s degrees in military art and science history from Fort Leavenworth, Kan.; health services and administration from Central Michigan University; and national security strategy from National Defense University.

• Mark Backlin ‘78 entered the U.S. Air Force after graduating from BSU with a degree in music. He spent 21 years in the Air Force, retiring as a lieutenant colonel in 1999. After completing Officer’s Training School in San Antonio, Texas, following his graduation from Bemidji State, Backlin served as a management analyst, chief of the space operations branch and chief of the wartime plans branch at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs. He also managed the Joint Chiefs of Staff policy issues at the Pentagon, with responsibilities over national defense missions in Europe and in space affecting one million persons with a total payroll of $30 billion.

Following his retirement in 1999, Backlin entered the real estate field, working for Global Valuation Services and Lincoln and Associates, one of the largest real estate companies in Colorado, as a financial analyst. He returned to the military in 2005, acting as a consultant for the 21st Space Wing of the Air Force Space Command in Colorado Springs, Colo., where he provides mission assessments and analyzes expenditures.

• Leah Carpenter ‘85 graduated cum laude from Bemidji State with degrees in political science and Indian studies. She currently serves as the president of Leech Lake Tribal College (LLTC) in Cass Lake, Minn., after previous stints at the college as dean of instruction, interim president and acting president. Prior to her tenure at LLTC, she held several positions at the University of Arizona.

Carpenter graduated from the University of Wisconsin School of Law in 1989, and has served as a prosecutor for the Leech Lake Tribal Court, was executive director and staff attorney for Anishinabe Legal Services, director of the White Earth Constitutional Reform Project and was a clerk for the Hennepin County (Minn.) District Court.

Carpenter has served as secretary to BSU’s alumni board and has been a member of the BSU Indian Alumni Association.

• Linda Erceg ‘88 graduated from Bemidji State with a degree in nursing, and later went on to earn a master’s degree in nursing from the University of North Dakota. She has been back in the Bemidji area serving in a variety of roles at the Concordia Language Villages of Concordia College, serving as health and safety coordinator from 1981 to 2005, and now serving as associate director for health and risk management. There, she has administrative responsibilities for health services and risk management for programs at Concordia impacting more than 10,000 participants and 1,000 staff members each year.

Erceg’s work at Concordia has essentially pioneered the field of camp nursing, coauthoring a book which is widely considered to be the definitive text for the specialty and founding the Association of Camp Nurses.

Erceg also has been an adjunct faculty member at Bemidji State since 1997, typically teaching the senior practicum, which serves as the capstone experience for bachelor of science in nursing candidates, in addition to a number of other courses.

• Anthony Gramer ‘69 joined Toche Ross and Co. as a member of its Detroit-based audit staff in 1970. From there, he moved into a variety of positions with companies in the mortgage banking industry and also served as chairman of the Legislative Committee of the Michigan Mortgage Bankers Association. He also served as president and chief executive of a publicly held real estate company. He was heavily involved in the development of shopping centers, owning a real estate development and management company which developed, redeveloped and managed 18 million square feet of space in 14 states.

Gramer is currently a co-managing partner of Partners Detroit, LLC, which formed the MGM Grand Detroit casino in a venture with MGM Mirage, Inc. He serves on the MGM Grand Detroit’s Charitable Contributions Committee and is a member of its board of directors. He also heads Gramer Company, LLC, a private investment company.

• Peggy Ingison ‘74 graduated from Bemidji State with a bachelor of science degree in accounting. Currently the chief financial officer for the Minneapolis Public Schools, Ingison has assembled a public service career in the state of Minnesota spanning the last three decades. From 1976-82, she worked for the Minnesota Department of Transportation as the transit office financial manager and as an auditor before moving on to the Minnesota State Senate Finance Committee. She was a fiscal analyst from 1982-90, and chief fiscal analyst from 1990-96.

From there, she moved to the Minnesota Department of Finance, where she was assistant commissioner and state budget director from 1996-2004 and commissioner of the department from 2004-06. In 2007, she moved into her current role as CFO for the Minneapolis Public Schools, where she oversees a budget of $650 million.

She also leads an active volunteer life, leading a Brownie troop; serving as treasurer and security staff member for the Irondale Senior Party, a school-sponsored post-graduation event; and participating as a citizen member of the Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant Restoration Advisory Board.

• Scott Lindberg ‘75 has spent 25 years in the electronics industry, first by opening the San Jose, Calif.-based distribution branch of Avnet, Inc. and helping that business grow from startup to $20 million in four years. In 1989, he moved to Hitachi, where he oversaw that company’s computer memory manufacturing operation and saw it grow from a $25 million business to over $500 million. He then helped Hitachi implement a worldwide distribution strategy, which included a partnership with his first company, Avnet, which allowed Hitachi to become Avnet’s first Asian supplier. He later helped oversee a merger between Hitachi and Mitsubishi, which at the time were the world’s two largest semiconductor manufacturers.

Lindberg now works for Northstar Insurance, a brokerage firm serving private clients in California.

• Benjamin Tsang ‘71 graduated from Bemidji State with a degree in chemistry. He is currently the director of the reproductive unit of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and a professor of obstetrics and gynecology and cellular & molecular medicine at the University of Ottawa, where he has spent the majority of his professional career. Tsang has held numerous positions at that university over the last 35 years, starting as a teaching assistant in its Department of Pharmacology in 1973. He spent two years as a post-doctoral fellow and visiting scientist and lecturer at the University of Western Ontario from 1976-78 and was an assistant research officer for the National Research Council of Canada from 1978-80.

He returned to the University of Ottawa in 1981 as an assistant professor of physiology, and has remained there since. He held assistant and associate professorships in physiology and obstetrics and gynecology through the 1980s, and became a professor of physiology in 1989. From 1999-2003, he served as associate chair of research for the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology before moving into his current role as director of that department’s reproductive unit.

Tsang has made nearly three dozen invited presentations all over the world, including conferences in Lebanon, Taiwan, China, Japan, Denmark, Spain and Switzerland, and has spoken at approximately 70 seminars in five countries and 10 states across the U.S. He has had more than 25 grant applications successfully funded with a total value of more than $8.5 million and holds a United States patent for a process to detect and modulate inhibitor proteins in the diagnosis and treatment of proliferative diseases.

The eight individuals will be presented with the Outstanding Alumni Award during BSU’s Alumni Honors Banquet on Friday, September 26, 2008, in conjunction with Homecoming weekend.

The event, which will be held in the Beaux Arts Ballroom on the BSU campus, is open to the public. Persons interested in attending can purchase tickets by contacting the alumni office at (218) 755-3989; toll-free at (877) 278-2586; or on the Web at