About the University of Detroit Mercy

As Michigan's largest Catholic university, University of Detroit Mercy has an outstanding tradition of academic excellence, firmly rooted in a strong liberal arts curriculum. This tradition dates back to the formation of two Detroit institutions: the University of Detroit founded in 1877 by the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) and Mercy College of Detroit, founded in 1941 by the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas. In 1990, these schools consolidated to become the University of Detroit Mercy-a university dedicated to providing accessible, quality education, while meeting the career-preparation needs of a diverse student population. Guided by its mission and purposes, the University continues to embody the values of its sponsors.


Early History

The Sisters of Mercy of the Americas has a long history of service to the sick and needy dating back to 1831, when the religious order was founded by Catherine McAuley in Dublin, Ireland. In 1940, the order established the Detroit community, which encompasses the states of Michigan, Indiana and Iowa. As head of the Detroit community, Mother Mary Carmelita Manning chose a 40-acre plot of land on West Outer Drive in northwest Detroit to build a new provincial house, novitiate and college. Mercy College of Detroit opened its doors in 1941 to prepare nurses and elementary and secondary teachers for Mercy hospitals and schools. However due to increasing needs, the college quickly expanded into a licensed, accredited liberal arts college. Upon consolidation with University of Detroit, the site became the Outer Drive campus of the University of Detroit Mercy.

The Jesuits' link to Michigan and the former University of Detroit began in the late 1600s. The Society of Jesus had already set up missions in Michigan before the state was founded in 1701. By the mid-1800s, the Jesuits began to establish parishes and schools in Detroit. In 1877, Bishop Caspar Henry Borgess founded Detroit College on Jefferson Avenue in downtown Detroit and asked the Society of Jesus to provide the educational leadership for the new institution. The Jesuits emphasized an educational tradition characterized by a passion for quality, a broad liberal education, a person-oriented education, the promotion of ethical values and justice, and a religious dimension. Enrollment and facilities expanded, and by 1911, the Detroit College became the newly chartered University of Detroit. With continued growth, the University moved from Jefferson to Six Mile (McNichols) and Livernois in 1926; this site is currently UDM's McNichols campus.


The University Today

Today, UDM is large enough to offer more than 100 majors and programs in nine different undergraduate, graduate and professional schools and colleges, yet small enough for faculty to provide personal attention to students with a 1/15 ratio. Faculty members are known for their teaching excellence with more than 86 percent having a Ph.D. or terminal degree.

Approximately 6,000 students attend classes on UDM campuses located in northwest and downtown Detroit and on off-campus sites located throughout the metro area. The University is widely recognized for its programs in engineering, law, business and architecture. True to its tradition, UDM is also known for its strong programs in health care, such as nursing, dentistry, psychology, physician assistants, nurse anesthesiology and addiction studies. In August 1997, UDM created the Urban Health Education Center to provide the collaborative education and preparation of health and human services professionals and educators. The goal of this centralized approach is to improve the health and well being of community residents, especially in relation to populations at risk.