Karl Linebaugh to receive honorary doctorate from Ferris State University

COMMENCEMENT SPEAKER: Karl Linebaugh will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Business and Industry from Ferris State University during the College of Business commencement at 4 p.m. on May 9. Pictured, Linebaugh fine-tunes his commencement address. (Pioneer photo/Candy Allan)

COMMENCEMENT SPEAKER: Karl Linebaugh will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Business and Industry from Ferris State University during the College of Business commencement at 4 p.m. on May 9. Pictured, Linebaugh fine-tunes his commencement address. (Pioneer photo/Candy Allan)

BIG RAPIDS — In his position of regional chairman for Chemical Bank, Karl Linebaugh is expected to be a leader.

In his 40 years of Big Rapids citizenship, he’s been a leader in many civic and community organizations as well.

In recognition of his efforts and contributions to the community, both professionally and personally, Ferris State University will confer an Honorary Doctorate of Business and Industry on Linebaugh at the 4 p.m. commencement ceremony on May 9 for the College of Business.

“For me, it’s obviously quite an honor,” Linebaugh said. “It’s very humbling.”

Linebaugh has a long list of involvement with organizations supporting Ferris. He served on the Ferris Foundation Board of Directors, served on the board and was a past chair of the Friends of Ferris political action committee, is a member of the university’s Founder’s Club, past president of the Bulldog club and served on FSU’s 2003 presidential search committee.

“For many years, Karl has been an important figure here in the Big Rapids community, both in his professional role as president of Chemical Bank’s North Region, and through his unselfish service to many local civic organizations,” said Sandy Gholston, spokesperson for Ferris. “For his outstanding service to Ferris and to our Big Rapids community, we strongly believe that Karl is a worthy recipient of an honorary Doctorate of Business and Industry.”

Beyond Ferris, Linebaugh’s resume of civic engagement gets even longer. He is a former member and president of the Big Rapids Jaycees, former board member and president of the Mecosta County Area Chamber of Commerce, past president and board member of the Big Rapids Lions Club. He helped found and is past president of the Mecosta County Community Foundation, past co-president of ArtWorks, was an advisory board member for the Salvation Army and is a member of First United Methodist Church and was chair of its Finance Committee.

Honorary doctorate recipients are nominated by the President’s Council, which includes FSU President David Eisler and the university vice-presidents. The council selects individuals to recommend to the FSU Board of Trustees, which then approves the nominations.

Ferris isn’t the first organization to honor Linebaugh. He was named the Chamber of Commerce Business Person of the Year and won the Northern Lights Award in Business and Industry. In November, the Mecosta County Community Foundation honored Linebaugh for his 25 years of service to the organization.

“We have a person who has been a leader on our foundation board for decades,” said Scott Hill-Kennedy, MCCF immediate past president, in November. “He is just involved in every single thing you can think of.

“What’s incredible about Karl — have you ever tried to get him to take credit for something? I can’t think of anybody that better epitomizes Mr. Community. … He just doesn’t talk about it.”

Not talking about his community work is one of the principles by which Linebaugh lives his life.

“My personal involvement in these organizations I do because I love this community,” he said. “In my opinion, it’s our responsibility to give back. You don’t do it for the honors and awards.”

He plans to share his personal outlook and experience with the graduates through his commencement address.

Linebaugh’s parents were teachers and he grew up on a dairy farm. One of the earliest organizations he joined other than the church was 4-H, which centers around the four H’s: head, heart, hands and health. Linebaugh tries to live his life based on a different set of four H’s: happy, humble, helpful and hard work.

“By happy, I mean enjoy life and enjoy what you do,” he said. “Humble — I was raised by my wonderful parents to be respectful, responsible for my actions and maintain integrity. Helpful — it’s important to be a good community member, to volunteer and be active. Hard work — If you want to be successful today, you’re going to be putting in more than 40 hours.

“Growing up, I had to be up early to do the chores before school,” he continued. “My work ethic was instilled early in my life.”

His advice to the graduates — and to anyone else — is to take responsibility for your actions and seek guidance from others.

“Look for the right mentors along the way,” Linebaugh said. “Both in your professional life and in your personal life, especially if you move to a new community and don’t know anybody, like we did.”

He also emphasized the need to stay positive.

“I’m a glass half-full kind of guy,” he added. “No matter how bad things get sometimes, there’s a lot of people who have it worse. Look on the bright side, the optimistic side — everything will work out.”

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Posted by Candy Allan

Candy is the Pioneer's associate editor. She also coordinates the Family & Friends, Religion and Parenting pages. She can be reached by phone at (231) 592-8386 or by e-mail at callan@pioneergroup.com.

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