SOUTHFIELD — Sidney Forbes, founder and senior partner of The Forbes Co., will receive an honorary doctor of business administration degree, and managing partner Nathan Forbes will deliver the commencement address when Lawrence Technological University holds its 80th commencement on Saturday, May 12, at 1 p.m. at Ultimate Soccer Arenas in Pontiac.
Lawrence Tech will confer just over 1,000 degrees this academic year. President Lewis Walker, who is stepping down on June 30, will preside over commencement for the final time.
Lawrence Tech will also present its Alumni Achievement Award to two graduates:
* Larry Lawson, who earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1980, is executive vice president of the Aeronautics Business Area at Lockheed Martin.
* Marcell R. Todd Jr., who earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture in 1991, is director of the Detroit Planning Commission.
Juma Al Majid, a business leader and philanthropist in Dubai, which is part of the United Arab Emirates, will be awarded an honorary doctor of humanities degree.
More than 40 years ago, Sidney Forbes founded Forbes Co., a nationally recognized developer, owner and manager of luxury shopping destinations throughout Michigan and Florida. The Southfield-based firm’s landmark retail properties include the highly acclaimed Somerset Collection in Troy.
“Mr. Forbes was among the first to recognize that the shopping experience is for many a form of entertainment, an event,” said Lawrence Tech alumnus James Ryan, who was chief designer at Forbes Co. for more than 30 years. “He set a much higher standard than what other developers viewed as acceptable, higher than even some retailers themselves. What makes his projects really work is that he has created experiences that are elegant, timeless and memorable.”
Forbes has a long history of local philanthropy, supporting the arts, medical research and education. His interests have included the Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Cranbrook Schools, Karmanos Cancer Institute, Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, and Beaumont Health System, whose Royal Oak hospital houses the Madeline & Sidney Forbes Family Orthopaedic Center.
In addition to managing Forbes Co., commencement speaker Nathan Forbes was part of a small group of investors led by Dan Gilbert that purchased Quicken Loans in 2002. The company has become a major employer and real estate developer in downtown Detroit.
In 2005, Forbes was part of the investor group led by Gilbert that acquired the Cleveland Cavaliers of the National Basketball Association. In 2006, he became an investor in Fathead LLC, which licenses and sells products for sports fans. He is also an investor in Rock Gaming, which plans to open casinos in Cleveland and Cincinnati next year.
Actively involved in charitable endeavors and organizations, he is a director of the Karmanos Cancer Institute.
After a boyhood as a pearl diver and a sea trader, in 1950 Al Majid founded the Juma Al Majid Group of Cos. that has grown into one of Dubai’s leading business, social and charitable enterprises. It now includes more than 40 companies engaged in engineering, retail, automotive and investment activities.
In the early 1950s Al Majid co-founded the first charitable society to help Dubai’s needy, creating secondary schools for boys and for girls. In 1983, he established the National Charity Schools that have helped some 9,000 needy expatriate students obtain a free education. In 1987, he established the Islamic and Arabic Studies College in Dubai.
Al Majid also worked with others to establish the Beit Al Khair Society in 1990, aiding poor citizens, needy students and victims of disasters. In 1991, he established a public library that has since expanded into the Juma Al Majid Center for Culture and Heritage that helps collect and restore historic documents and manuscripts.
Lawson leads Lockheed Martin’s military aircraft business, which employs more than 26,000 people at nine locations in the United States. Lockheed Martin Aeronautics is the industry leader for design, development, manufacture and full-service logistics of a wide range of combat and air mobility aircraft for the U.S. and its allies around the world.
Lawson oversees such key aircraft programs as the advanced supersonic F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter, the F-16 Fighting Falcon combat aircraft and C-130J Super Hercules, as well as modernization and sustainment activities for the F-22 Raptor air dominance fighter, C-5M Super Galaxy transport, U-2 Dragon Lady high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft, and P-3 Orion maritime patrol aircraft.
Lawson is a Lawrence Tech trustee and serves on the university’s capital campaign steering committee. He and his wife, Debra, have established an endowed scholarship for electrical engineering students.
While still a student at Lawrence Tech, Todd began his career at the Detroit Planning commission as an intern. He rose through the ranks and became director in 2005. He also oversees the staff of the Historic Designation Advisory Board.
Among the projects, working groups and task forces Todd has worked on are the GM Renaissance Center renovation, Campus Martius Park, the Detroit RiverWalk, casino regulation and development, the Jefferson Chalmers and Art Center Communities, and the Detroit River International Crossing Study.
Todd is also ordained in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and serves as an associate minister at the historic Bethel A.M.E. Church in Detroit.
Lawrence Technological University, www.ltu.edu, was founded in 1932. Bloomberg BusinessWeek lists Lawrence Tech among the nation’s upper third of universities for return on undergraduate tuition investment, and highest in the Detroit metropolitan area. Lawrence Tech is also listed in the top tier of Midwestern universities by U.S. News and World Report and the Princeton Review. Students benefit from small class sizes and experienced faculty who provide a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 102-acre campus include over 60 student clubs and organizations and a growing roster of NAIA varsity sports.