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Ross Community Mourns Loss of Two Staffers

11/18/2009 --

In August, the Evening MBA Program lost Rosie Givens to cancer. In early November, the Department of Undergraduate Student Affairs lost Rob Koonce.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Rosie Givens, program associate for the Evening MBA Program, passed away in August after a valiant battle with cancer. Rosie worked at Ross for four years, where she built genuine connections with several cohorts of Evening MBA students. Prior to Ross, she worked for Dana Corp. for 27 years as a research analysis manager and treasury specialist. At the age of 53, she went back to college and earned her bachelor's degree in business marketing.

"Rosie is a great loss to the program and to so many of us personally," says Paul Clyde, academic director of the Part-time MBA Program. He'd worked with Rosie to source student projects at Dana Corp. prior to opening the position at Ross. "When she expressed an interest in the position, I knew she had many of the attributes I was looking for. She was extremely competent, dependable, and meticulous, but I was uncertain how she would interact with the students, which was going to be an important part of the job. Before we even hired her, she came to an information session and was in the back greeting everyone as they walked in. It took a very short while for me to realize that, in addition to the other attributes she brought to the position, her ability to interact with the people affiliated with the program, especially the students, was her greatest strength."

Rosie also was a loving daughter who helped her parents by making the down payment for their first house in Bowling Green and organizing a business plan that gave them the chance to start their business, Rosales Dry Cleaning.

Rosie is survived by her husband, Jon, children Jose and Jennifer, three grandchildren, her mother, and a large extended family.

In November, the Ross community was stunned by the sudden death of Rob Koonce, director of undergraduate student affairs and executive director of the school's MREACH program (Michigan Ross School of Business Enriching Academics in Collaboration with High Schools).

Rob joined the Ross staff in 2004 and quickly established a larger-than-life presence advising, counseling, and mentoring countless students in the BBA Program, the Preferred Admission Program, and the Preparation Initiative, a program that offers counseling and tutoring in economics, math, and accounting to University students interested in applying to Ross at the end of their freshman year. As executive director of MREACH, Rob was instrumental in bringing Detroit and other Southeast Michigan high school students to campus for an action-based introduction to business education and careers.

He was a "man on a mission" who would do anything for his students, says Karen Bird, a lecturer at Ross. One of those students was Zoltan Mesko, BBA '09 (with Koonce at right), punter for the Michigan football team. He recently told The Michigan Daily that Koonce changed his life. "He was one of the first people who took my goal of getting into the business school seriously. He actually believed in me and had the vision for me to graduate from Ross."

Scott Moore, faculty director in the BBA Program, told students gathered for a recent memorial reception: "If you want to honor Rob's memory, you will remember this: You will remember him kicking your behind when you needed it, saying something nice, and then kicking your behind again. Eventually you came to realize he was right and he only did it because he cared. So honor his memory and fulfill the unlimited potential. This is why Rob was here. This is what we have to do to keep him alive in us today."

Rob earned his master's in higher education from U-M in 1994. A former athlete, he played football at Union College for four seasons (1982-1985). Prior to Ross, he worked in the athletic departments at the University of Pennsylvania, Tulane University, and the University of Maryland. While pursuing his master's at Michigan, he worked in the University's athletic department as an assistant academic adviser. Those who worked closely with him knew he was not only focused on the athletic success of his students, but primarily on their academic success. In addition to sports, he loved gardening, history, genealogy, and jazz.

Rob is survived by his wife, Angela, and loving family and friends.

For more information, contact:
Bernie DeGroat, (734) 936-1015 or 647-1847,