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Campaign for Detroit Mercy making significant progress

March 08, 2018
University of Detroit Mercy supporters have donated more than $83 million toward the University’s $100-million campaign goal. One of the major projects planned is a renovated student union on the McNichols Campus, reimagined to become the face of Detroit Mercy.

The Campaign for Detroit Mercy has made considerable progress toward the $100 million fundraising goal by 2019 and students are seeing the results in expanded programming, new learning spaces and enhanced opportunities in the classroom.

“We have seen strong momentum since we began the public phase of our campaign in October,” said Vice President of University Advancement Arnold D’Ambrosio. “When we announced the campaign in late October 2017, we were a little over $78 million. Today, just four months later, we’re nearing $84 million.”

This momentum comes in gifts of all sizes, with a large number of them from individual donors.

“The good news is that 77 percent of the total contributions have come from individuals who love the University and the vast majority of those donors are alumni of University of Detroit, Mercy College of Detroit or Detroit Mercy,” D’Ambrosio said. “This is a big shift from previous campaigns when corporate and private foundations played a larger role. We think this shows the special place that the University holds in the hearts of its alumni.”

Among recent developments:

  • An active learning classroom in the Jane and Walter O. Briggs Building, which will allow students and teachers to collaborate more and use technology to ensure students learn in ways that are meaningful to them. This renovation was made possible by a gift from alumna and adjunct professor Jamie Dylenski and her husband, Bob Dylenski.
  • A talk by National Book Award-winner Ibram X. Kendi brought more than 400 students, faculty, staff and community members to hear about the history of race relations. It was funded by the new endowed Drs. Karen and Thomas Waters African-American Studies Program Enrichment Fund. Karen Waters is a former associate professor of Social Work.
  • The new Center for Innovation and Collaboration in the College of Engineering & Science has been designed to foster creativity, build community and encourage the generation of ideas. This new Center was funded by a donation from two-time alumnus and national defense supplier Fred Seibert and his wife, Suzanne.
  • An estate gift has established the Arnold Jarboe Endowed Chair in Business for the College of Business Administration. This allows the University to attract the best educators from across the country to teach tomorrow’s students.

Another bright spot in the campaign is the number of gifts that have been designated to the University’s endowment. Since July 1, 2011, when Dr. Antoine M. Garibaldi became Detroit Mercy’s president, the University’s endowment has more than doubled and now stands at more than $58 million. Of that growth, some $20 million are gifts in hand; additional gifts have come in the form of pledges and other commitments.

“This is important, because individual donors, foundations and other organizations see a strong endowment as an indicator of the stability of the University, and know their gifts and grants are going to a well-run organization,” D’Ambrosio said.

The Campaign for Detroit Mercy comprises four categories:

  • Scholarships and financial aid — To date, the University has raised $32.3 million toward a $40-million goal to provide endowed and expendable scholarships, which will ensure that the University can attract and retain the best students from across the country, regardless of their ability to pay.
  • Programs and Faculty — Our nationally recognized programs and faculty are two reasons students consider University of Detroit Mercy. Detroit Mercy has surpassed the goal of $25 million, with more than $32.6 million raised toward this end.
  • Facilities Improvements — Attracting and retaining students requires up-to-date facilities where students can learn, study and pass the time. One of the most-anticipated projects is the reimagining of the Student Union into the welcoming heart of the McNichols Campus. The University has set a goal of $25 million for updating, retrofitting and creating new spaces for students and faculty on its three campuses. To date, gifts totaling $10.3 million have been raised toward the goal.
  • Unrestricted and general — Unrestricted funds are necessary to allow the University to address sudden needs or take advantage of opportunities for student or faculty learning. Donors have given $7.7 million toward the goal of $10 million.

“Going forward, we need to focus on the facilities, especially the new Student Union,” D’Ambrosio said of the planned multi-million-dollar student center renovation, which will modernize and reimagine the facility, making it the new face of the University.

To help communicate the campaign needs and reconnect with alumni and University friends, Garibaldi and D’Ambrosio continue to travel to spread the word about Detroit Mercy. 

“What we’ve seen every place we’ve visited are alumni who love Detroit Mercy and are willing to help it continue its Jesuit and Mercy mission of great education, dedication to the city of Detroit and commitment to service for many years,” D’Ambrosio said.

For more information about the Campaign for University of Detroit Mercy, visit or call 313-993-1250.

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