Josh Linkner, founder and chairman of Pleasant Ridge-based ePrize LLC, the largest interactive promotion agency in the world, will receive an honorary degree and deliver the address when Lawrence Technological University holds its 79th commencement on Sunday, May 15, at 2 p.m. at Cobo Arena in Detroit.
Lawrence Tech will confer degrees on just over 1,000 new graduates. Linkner will receive an honorary Doctor of Business Administration.
Lawrence Tech also will present alumni achievement awards to distinguished graduates Michael Fitzpatrick and Thomas Nemitz.
Linkner is on a self-described mission to make the world more creative. He is a New York Times best-selling author of two books. “Disciplined Dreaming: A Proven System to Drive Breakthrough Creativity,” which came out in February, helps organizations and individuals jumpstart their imagination and build creative organizations.
EPrize provides digital marketing services for 74 of the top 100 brands. Over the last 13 years, the company has hired over 1,800 professionals. Linkner led the firm from inception to being ranked the number one fastest-growing and number three overall promotion agency by Promo magazine. He opened offices in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, San Francisco, Atlanta, and London. Additionally, he has led the firm through two rounds of financing and two recapitalizations, securing over $43 million of investment.
Linkner, who has a degree in advertising from Florida State University, was an early Internet marketing visionary, founding and building one of the first web marketing agencies, GlobalLink New Media, in 1995. He sold it in 1999, and founded two other successful technology companies.
Recently, Linkner launched his fifth company, the venture capital firm Detroit Venture Partners. Along with business partners Dan Gilbert and Brian Hermelin, he is actively investing in early-stage technology companies to help rebuild the Detroit region through entrepreneurship.
Linkner is frequently invited by the media to comment on business, technology, and marketing issues. He has been generous in addressing Lawrence Tech students on numerous occasions about entrepreneurism.
He is an accomplished jazz musician, regularly performing in jazz clubs throughout the United States and Canada. For more about his role as a change agent for business creativity and to follow his blog, visit joshlinkner.com.
Alumni Achievement Awards
Fitzpatrick earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Lawrence Tech in 1973. He is president and CEO of Fitzpatrick Manufacturing Co. Inc. in Sterling Heights, which was founded by his father.
Fitzpatrick Manufacturing is one of Michigan’s largest contract manufacturers with more than 100 machines, an 80,000-square-foot facility, and over 90 employees. It provides in-house precision CNC turning, milling, and surface grinding for customers in many markets including aerospace, defense, homeland security, mining and drilling, medical equipment, and advanced automotive.
As a student, Fitzpatrick was active with the Phi Kappa Upsilon fraternity. Recently he and his wife, Barbara, established a bequest of $1 million in support of the Phi Kappa Upsilon Endowed Scholarship at Lawrence Tech. He also supports senior project teams at Lawrence Tech through in-kind donations of material.
Nemitz earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture in 1982. His first job was with prominent Grand Rapids architect Marvin DeWinter, and his first major project was transforming the elegant but faded Pantlind Hotel into today’s iconic Amway Grand Plaza.
In 1989, he founded Cornerstone Architects in Grand Rapids, which has won nearly 50 regional, state, and national design awards. The main office specializes primarily in historic preservation and urban renewal projects. The firm’s Traverse City office focuses primarily on educational and civic projects, and its St. Clair Shores office specializes in renovation and commercial/institutional interior design.
Nemitz has directed more than 100 adaptive reuse projects in Michigan, including more than 80 historically significant structures. In addition, as principal in charge, he has provided design services for many of the firm’s educational facility projects in the state.
Cornerstone Architects employs three other Lawrence Tech alumni, including his wife, the former Luann Techentin, a registered architect and interior designer.
Lawrence Technological University, www.ltu.edu, offers more than 100 undergraduate, master’s and doctoral degree programs in the Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Management. Founded in 1932, the 4,500-student, private university pioneered evening classes and today has a growing number of weekend and online programs. Lawrence Tech’s 102-acre campus is in Southfield, and programs are also offered in Detroit, Lansing, Petoskey, Traverse City and Toronto. Lawrence Tech also partners with universities in Mexico, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.