Prominent Graduates of Kalamazoo College

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From the Kalamazoo Gazette


Maynard Owen Williams, 1910


A writer and photographer, Maynard Owen Williams was a correspondent for National Geographic magazine, where his colleagues called him “Mr. Geographic.” He was present for the opening of King Tut’s tomb and for the Russian Revolution. He took the first color photographs north of the Arctic Circle and befriended Lawrence of Arabia. He died in 1963. The college’s Maynard Owen Williams Prize for creative nonfiction is named in his honor.

Read on for more notable alumni …


Pauline Byrd Johnson, 1926


Pauline Byrd Johnson was the college’s first female black student to graduate. She went on to teach at Kalamazoo’s Lincoln School before she accepted a fellowship at New York University. As a student, she was invited to employ her writing talents on behalf of many student organizations, but she could not serve as leader or board member, despite Kalamazoo’s progressive standing at the time. At the Lincoln School, she was the first black person to teach in Kalamazoo Public Schools.


Peter Tippett, 1972


This computer-security expert was the creator of the first commercial antivirus product, which ultimately became Norton AntiVirus. Tippett, who was once an emergency-room doctor and also holds a doctor of philosophy in biochemistry, is vice president of research, intelligence and security solutions for Verizon Business.


Vic Braden, 1951


A professional tennis teacher, Vic Braden is the founder of Vic Braden Tennis College. While at Kalamazoo College, he was a tennis-team captain and a winner of the league singles championships. He turned pro immediately after graduating from college. He was invited to play in the World Tennis Championships three times and is the author of many tennis books. He is also a licensed psychologist, a cinematographer, a videographer and a television commentator.


Alexander C. Lipsey, 1972


As a nearly lifelong resident of Kalamazoo, Alexander “Sandy” Lipsey is a well-known community leader. He has served as a Kalamazoo city commissioner, as vice mayor, as a state lawmaker and, most recently, on the bench as a judge on the Kalamazoo County 9th Circuit Court. While at Kalamazoo College, Lipsey majored in physics and went on to pursue a law degree at the University of Michigan.


Caroline Ham, 1948


A Kalamazoo city commissioner starting in the mid 1970s, Caroline Ham became Kalamazoo’s first female mayor in 1981. She received the Kalamazoo Network’s Glass Ceiling Award, which is awarded to a woman in the community who has broken through traditional barriers to obtain success.


Phil Carra, 1969


Phil Carra, a well-known Kalamazoo-area leader, was a long-time executive with the Upjohn Co. and later Pfizer Inc. He is also a past chairman of the Greater Kalamazoo United Way and former managing director of the Southwest Michigan Innovation Center. Currently, Carra is a partner with the Apjohn Group LLC.


Bruce Benton, 1964


Bruce Benton was manager of World Bank’s Onchocerciasis (river blindness) Coordination Unit from 1985 to 2005. He spearheaded the World Bank’s effort on river blindness, ensuring that millions of people were protected from the infection.


Michael McFall, 1994


Now Biggby Coffee’s president, McFall worked his way up from a minimum-wage barista to become equal partner alongside founders Bob Fish and Mary Roszel. He coaches Biggby franchisees to be successful. A resident of Lansing, McFall majored in economics at Kalamazoo College and received his master’s degree from Michigan State University.


Bruce Johnson, 1976


Bruce Johnson is co-founder of Gazelle Sports, a popular business that started as a single store in Kalamazoo in 1985. The enterprise now has several more stores located in Grand Rapids and one in Holland. While a K-College student, Johnson developed an Ultimate Frisbee team that had its first competition against Calvin College at Angell Field in the summer of 1974. It may have been the first Ultimate Frisbee game west of Pennsylvania.


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