Claud Erickson Distinguished Alumni Award

2015 - Alton L. Granger, PE

Alton L. Granger, 2015 Claud Erickson Award RecipientWith more than 50 years of experience in all phases of construction, Alton L. Granger has always been engaged in the family construction business. Today, he remains co-owner and officer, and is the current chairman of Granger Construction Company—which he founded with his father and two brothers in Lansing, Michigan, in 1959.

Al continuously reaffirms Granger’s commitment to its customers through routine jobsite visits. He is an effective leader who ensures that projects are completed to customers’ complete satisfaction and is a vigilant proponent of always treating customers the way he himself would want to be treated. “It probably sounds corny, but we have always tried to work within the precepts of the Golden Rule; it works,” Granger said.

His many awards and distinctions include the MSU Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni Award (2004) and MSU’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award (2006).

Al has served as president of the Holt Public Schools Board of Education, the Lansing Downtown Optimist Club, the board of directors of the Association of General Contractors of Michigan, and the board of directors for the Builders Exchange of Lansing. He has also served on the board of directors of Capital Area United Way, First of America Bank Central, the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce, MSU University Development, the Lansing Community College Foundation, and Lansing General Hospital. He was also an arbitrator for the American Arbitration Association.

In addition, he has served in many roles at Mt. Hope United Methodist Church, including chairperson of the church council and lay leader. Faith and family have always been the most important things in Al’s life.

Al and his wife, Jan, live in a remodeled barn near Dimondale, Michigan, where their farming is limited to houseplants. Jan is a registered nurse (BS, ’80 Nursing) and spends many hours supporting MSU’s College of Nursing. They spend much of their summer at their cottage on Gun Lake, where they met more than 70 years ago. They enjoy their winter months at their condo in Melbourne Beach, Florida.

About the Award

Nomination Form (.doc)
Past Recipients

Dean Lawrence Wayne Von Tersch established the Claud R. Erickson Distinguished Alumni Award in 1982. Claud Erickson, for whom the award was named, was the first recipient. Since then, it has been given annually to a College of Engineering graduate with a minimum of 15 years’ professional experience who has attained the highest level of professional accomplishment; provided distinguished and meritorious service to the College of Engineering and the engineering profession; and engaged in voluntary service at the local, state, national, and/or international level.

Claud Erickson, born in Manistee, Michigan, lived from 1900 to 1993. He had to help support his family during high school and took a full-time job immediately after graduation. At the urging of work associates who recognized his talents, Claud began college, but it was a constant financial struggle. At times, faculty members chipped in to keep him in school.

Claud ultimately received four engineering degrees from MSU, beginning with a bachelor of science in 1922. He later earned degrees in mechanical (1927), electrical (1933), and civil engineering (1934) and held a consulting professional engineer's license. He also studied law and was qualified to practice before the United States Supreme Court.

Claud was the first member of Lambda Chi Alpha, chartered in 1922 as the second fraternity at MSU; it now has well over 2,200 members.

He became the director and general manager of the Lansing Board of Water and Light and spent more than 50 years making the utility a strong, progressive force in the Lansing area. He was a nationally respected figure in public works, and in 1971 the Board named a new power plant in Delta Township after him.

Community activism was a way of life for Claud. He was the Ingham County chairman of the U.S. Treasury Savings Bond Drive for 50 years, beginning in 1941. He was honored in 1991 at the age of 91 by the U.S. Treasury Department for his 50 years of patriotic volunteer service. He was the only person in the United States known to have directed a local drive continuously since the program began during World War II.

He was a delegate to the Michigan Constitutional Convention, chairman of the Ingham County American Red Cross, and a trustee of St. Lawrence Hospital. He served at various times as president of the Lansing Rotary Club, the City Club of Lansing, the American Public Power Association, the Michigan Engineering Society, and the Greater Lansing Area Safety Council.

He and his wife, Thelma, were the parents of one son and four daughters. He was an avid stamp collector and was considered one of the nation's top authorities on electric-powered vehicles. He admired the simplicity of an electric car. He said, "It has only eight moving parts, and four of those are wheels."

Always maintaining close ties with MSU, Claud served on the MSU Foundation's first board of directors. He was asked by President John A. Hannah to oversee the construction of the Alumni Chapel. He also supervised the completion of 7,000 married-student housing units in just five months to accommodate U.S. servicemen returning to campus after World War II.

Claud always attended the spring commencement exercises of MSU's College of Engineering and the initiation ceremonies of the Chi Epsilon civil engineering honor society, and he kept close tabs on each alumnus who won the Claud R. Erickson Award.

When asked by President Hannah at one point, "Why do MSU alumni come back to campus year after year?" he responded, "Because they love the university that offered them the hand of friendship and the open door of opportunity."