James Kirby '92
President, College of Business Administration Alumni Board
Following graduation with an MBA from University of Detroit Mercy, James Kirby ’92, moved quickly into life as an active alumnus. He has served on the College of Business Administration Alumni Board for seven years, and just completed his first year as president, a role through which he has put together a program of activities that benefit alumni and students.
His professional life is equally active. As assistant controller to the chief financial officer for General Wine and Liquor in Highland Park, Mich., he maintains a very busy work regimen in addition to his work on the board. However, he says he would not change a thing. Giving back to students and the College is, in his words, a real privilege.
According to Kirby, the focus of alumni events is completely student-based. “Since everything we do is student-centered, we do not have any events scheduled until the fall. However, once September arrives, we’re quite active,” says Kirby. The board’s first fall event is a networking opportunity that allows students and graduates to interact and learn about each other. Sponsored by the board, along with the Student Advisory Board, this event enables students to talk to alumni on an informal basis. In addition, several service-related events are in the works.
The biggest event of the board’s year is Alumni Week, held every March. Alumni Week has been likened to a recruiting session, attended by a wide spectrum of students. This year, the subcommittee also implemented podcasts of several prominent Alumni Week classroom speakers, which are available on the UDM web site. There were almost 40 speakers who participated in Alumni Week this year, which offered students the opportunity to experience a wide variety of industry perspectives. Speakers included Bill Hermann ’72, managing partner of Plante & Moran; Andy Acho ’63, ’67, retired Ford Motor Company executive; and William P. Young ’90, ’04 vice president, Absopure Water Company.
Being active on the board is an excellent opportunity for alumni to get involved with UDM, according to Kirby. In addition, it is a great advertisement for volunteerism in general. “I feel very privileged to work with the 24 other members of our group who all work very diligently on this board, ” Kirby says.
Camaraderie is a fortunate side effect of working towards a common good, too, says Kirby. “Over the years, our group has evolved into a group of close friends. Hence, it is very easy to work with them and accomplish our goals,” he adds.
Kirby does not select one single aspect of his dedicated work as president as most rewarding, but rather points to the accomplishments of the group as a whole.
“The board has accomplished several new things this year. Our student outreach subcommittee launched a mentoring program,” he says.“In addition, the service subcommittee started a new endeavor in partnership with Focus:HOPE.”
More plans are in the works. “Our ‘Super Saturday’ subcommittee has vigorously planned for a major business forum. This might involve the entire University, and it will hopefully include a panel discussion followed by dinner and a keynote speaker,” Kirby adds.
The students’ passion and energy are a driving force in the programs’ successes, and it’s what keeps Kirby coming back for more.
He continuously cites student involvement as the motivation for his work with the Alumni Board.
“I really enjoy working with the students. They are who make this work especially worthwhile. It’s also gratifying that the events our group sponsors further enhances their experience at UDM,” he adds.
Kirby, like many alumni, also enjoys the sense of giving back to UDM. “It’s extremely rewarding to directly help the students that are in the program now,” he explains.
Despite the broad range of activities that the board sponsors, Kirby refuses to take full credit for any of these accomplishments. He says, “It is the hard-working folks of these committees who did them all."