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April 21, 2018

Joe Verkennes, Director of Marketing and Communications
Monroe County Community College
1555 S. Raisinville Rd., Monroe, MI  48161
(734) 384-4207 (O), (419) 343-3063 (M) 

Merkle to be Named Alumnus of Year

MONROE, Mich. – Monroe County Community College graduates will be recognized during the 51st Annual Commencement Ceremony on Friday, April 27 at 7 p.m. in the Gerald Welch Health Education Building, located at 1555 S. Raisinville Rd.

Student addresses will be made by graduation candidates Leah Thomas, Melissa Fry and Ian Lawson.

Jill Denko, assistant professor, student services, has been awarded the position of honorary grand marshal for the ceremony.  This traditional honor is peer-awarded and bestowed upon a full-time faculty member who is held in high academic and personal esteem for his or her contributions to the institution.

Other ceremony officials will include Dr. Patrick Nedry, the 2017-18 Outstanding Faculty of the Year Award winner, as faculty marshal; Dr. Randell Daniels, vice president of student and information systems, as student marshal, and Dr. Grace Yackee, vice president of instruction, as platform party marshal and mistress of ceremonies.

At the ceremony, the 2018 Alumnus of the Year Award will be presented to Brian S. Merkle.  To recognize and honor outstanding alumni who have made significant contributions to their career, community and the college, the MCCC Board of Trustees established the Alumnus of the Year Award in 1996.

Merkle earned his associate of science degree from MCCC in 1999 and continued his education to earn a bachelor’s degree in mortuary science from Wayne State University in 2000.  He went on to a distinguished career as licensed funeral director, serving as a licensed funeral director at Bennett Funeral Homes before founding Merkle Funeral Services in 2007.  He holds distinction in his field by twice being selected for the Pursuit of Excellence Award by the National Funeral Directors Association.  Merkle has contributed to the quality of life in Monroe County through his role as an emergency medical technician for Monroe County Ambulance, a member of the board of directors at Trinity Lutheran Church, past president of the Monroe Exchange Club, past member of the President’s Advisory Council at MCCC, member of the Monroe Aging Consortium and a volunteer firefighter with the Monroe Township Fire Department from 1997-2010.

Degrees will be conferred by MCCC President Dr. Kojo A. Quartey as the candidates are presented by Yackee. 

The Agora Chorale, conducted by Catherine Brodie and accompanied by Alyce Sangster, will perform “Heilig,” arranged by Franz Schubert.  The College/Community Symphony Band, conducted by Mark Felder, will open the ceremony with Edward Elgar’s “Fanfare and Processional” (also known as “Pomp and Circumstance”) and conclude the program with “Fanfare and Recessional” by James Ployhar.

MCCC’s Board of Trustees includes:  Chair Lynette M. Dowler, Vice Chair Mary Kay Thayer, Secretary Aaron N. Mason, and trustees William T. Bruck, Dr. James E. DeVries, Steven Hill and Marjorie A. Kreps.

About Monroe County Community College

Founded in 1964, Monroe County Community College is a public, two-year institution supported by tax monies from Monroe County, educational funds from the State of Michigan and student tuition.  

The college’s mission is to enrich and transform lives by providing opportunities and excellence in higher education.  The Main Campus is located at 1555 South Raisinville Road, Monroe, Mich., 48161, with easy access to Toledo and Detroit.  The Whitman Center is located at 7777 Lewis Ave.,Temperance, Mich., 48182, near the Ohio-Michigan Border.  Detailed information about MCCC is available at