The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee will confer honorary degrees on four outstanding individuals at its Dec. 19 commencement ceremony at the UWM Panther Arena. Honorees include Tonit M. Calaway, executive vice president and chief administrative officer, general counsel and secretary for BorgWarner; Steven A. Davis, CEO of SDL Strategies Consultants; Michael J. Falbo, president emeritus of the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents; and Belinda Pittman, founder and CEO of Nia Imani Family.
Tonit M. Calaway will receive an honorary Doctor of Corporate and Community Relations degree.
A UWM alumna, Calaway oversees the global legal function, security, facilities, government affairs, real estate, sustainability, environment and aviation at BorgWarner. Prior to BorgWarner, Calaway had an 18-year career at Harley-Davidson, serving as president of the Harley-Davidson Foundation and vice president of human resources. She has also worked for two Milwaukee law firms: Davis & Kuelthau and Godfrey & Khan.
Savoy magazine named Calaway to its list of Most Influential Black Corporate Directors in 2021, Most Influential Black Executives in Corporate America in 2020 and to its list of Most Influential African American Women in Corporate America in 2013, 2016 and 2019. The Milwaukee Business Journal named her a “Woman of Influence” in 2014. In 2020, she was named to the Top 100 Leading Women in the North American Auto Industry by Automotive News.
Calaway serves on the boards of directors of W.P. Carey, a net lease real estate investment trust, and Astronics Corporation, a leading supplier of advanced technologies to the global aerospace, defense, and semiconductors industries. She received her juris doctorate from the University of Chicago Law School, and she is a member of the State Bar of Wisconsin.
Steven A. Davis will receive an honorary Doctor of Business degree.
A UWM alumnus, Davis provides strategy and private equity consulting to Cerberus Capital, Apollo and other private equity companies in his role at SDL Strategies Consultants. He is the former chairman and CEO of Bob Evans Farms Inc., a publicly traded restaurant and packaged goods company.
Davis has provided board and diversity, equity and inclusion advising to Fortune 500 companies, and he is a proud alumnus of INROADS INC., a nonprofit organization that creates pathways to careers for ethnically diverse high school and college students across the country. His work and contributions have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, New York Times and most recently in the Wall Street Journal podcast “The New Corporate Diversity Strategy: Tie it to Executive Pay.”
Davis serves on the board of directors of Marathon Petroleum, The Albertsons Companies, PPG Industries and American Eagle Outfitters. He previously served on the boards of Walgreens Boots Alliance, CenturyLink, Sonic Restaurants and The Legacy Acquisition Corporation. He is a member of UWM’s Lubar School of Business Advisory Council, and in 2014, he received the UWM Alumni Association Lifetime Achievement Award. He earned his MBA from the University of Chicago.
Michael J. Falbo will receive an honorary Doctor of Entrepreneurship degree.
Falbo was appointed to the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents in 2004 and served as president from 2013 to 2015. He was previously chairman of Associated Bank Community Development, an affiliate of Associate Banc-Corp. He is the former chairman and CEO of State Financial Services Corporation, a $1.5 billion financial services company that was based in Milwaukee.
He has served on the board of directors for many nonprofit and community organizations, and he and his wife, Sheila, were campaign co-chairs for UWM’s university-wide fundraising effort, Made in Milwaukee, Shaping the World: The Campaign for UWM. Falbo has been honored for his leadership with awards such as the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee Volunteer of the Year Award and the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Founders Award. Falbo served in the United States Army, Vietnam Medic Corps.
Falbo earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. He has served on the board of directors of the UW-Parkside Foundation, including as president from 1998 to 2000, and is now a director emeritus. For his achievements and service, Falbo was recognized with the UW-Parkside Distinguished Alumni Award in 2001. He is also an alumnus of the Graduate School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Belinda Pittman will receive an honorary Doctor of Community Health degree.
Since 1994, Pittman has led Nia Imani Family Inc., a nonprofit organization that began offering critical services to women with histories of homelessness and trauma. The program has evolved to work with younger mothers between the ages of 18 and 25 with children under the age of 5. Pittman’s groundbreaking approach focuses on restoring the family and eliminating generations of trauma and poverty.
Pittman is a gifted problem solver who has a unique ability to tap into the suffering of women and children and bring about life-changing resolutions based on the exact needs of the individual. She intuitively inspires and guides women through their struggles with grit and tenacity. Pittman and her projects have been featured in Milwaukee Magazine, the Milwaukee Times, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Neighborhood News Service, Shepherd Express, Milwaukee Catholic Herald and many others.
A seasoned mentor to women of all ages, Pittman has been a speaker at the 4th Street Forum, the State of Wisconsin Department of Corrections, Alverno College, Mount Mary University, the Wisconsin Association for Adult and Continuing Education, UWM’s School of Nursing, and has appeared on a “60 Minutes” episode on childhood trauma.