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Fall 2007

michael costelloMichael Costello '85

President, School of Law Alumni Board

As president of the School of Law Alumni Board, Michael Costello ’85, has ushered in several new initiatives to strengthen the alumni association. His dedication to improving the group stems from the lessons instilled in him as a youth.   

“When you attend the University of Detroit Jesuit High School, you learn early that you should get involved in your community and serve others,” says Costello, who pursued a law degree at UDM because he knew it was a quality law school.

That foundation combined with his ability to lead have served the board well. Costello, who is in his second year of a three-year term as president, and the board have ramped up and reached out to their alumni with changes to some rules, an informative web site and a clear purpose for the association.  

 Another change increased the number of student representatives to the board. Rather than just one student, the board decided that additional representatives would encourage greater communication and participation between the current students and the alumni association.

To become more focused and improve implementation of the board’s strategic direction, the association downsized the number of committees from five to three. The committees include the Executive Committee, Alumni Relations and Events, and Fundraising and Development.

“We were trying to be a lot of everything, which adversely impacted our ability to be effective,” explains Costello.
Each committee meets regularly to discuss its responsibilities. For example, the members of the Alumni Relations and Events Committee recruit alumni and organize the ceremony surrounding the Alumnus of the Year event. The 2007 honoree is Denise Ilitch ’81, who will receive the honor for her many career and business accomplishments, as well as commitment to the School and surrounding community. The award, established by the board in 1985, honors alumni who have distinguished themselves in their chosen field and who have brought recognition and honor to the School of Law.

Costello believes that the changes have reached its alumni audience. He illustrates this by the turnout for the Detroit Tiger game outing. “We sold in excess of 300 tickets. There was a barbecue tailgate before the game. Everyone had a great time. For me, this sold-out event indicates that alumni are very interested in supporting the School,” says Costello of the June gathering that is intended to be the first of an annual outing.

Communicating to the alumni is a priority of the School of Law’s Dean Mark Gordon who e-mails alumni monthly. Costello, too, addresses alumni through a message on the School of Law’s web site and in the School’s publication, The Docket.  The web site (www.lawschool.udmercy.edu/alumni&friends) also prompts interaction with alumni in a section titled “Alumni and Friends.” Here, alumni find Class Notes, Dean’s Circle of Distinction, Donor Honor Roll, Gift Giving, and In Memoriam. There also is a place for alumni to update their contact information, retrieve nomination forms for Alumnus of the Year, and learn more about the alumni association and its special projects.  

This fall, the board is planning its Reunion Weekend in September, which will include a pub night for all alumni, the Law Alumnus of the Year Reception and the Alumni Mass and Brunch, honoring the Time and Talent Award Recipients, Steve Kelley ’81, and Mary Catherine Rentz ’81.   

Costello’s ongoing message to alumni is simple and to the point. “Get involved with the School whether you’re giving your time or if you are fortunate enough to give monetarily.”

Costello has been active within the alumni association for seven years. He plans to remain involved because it is important to him to support the School that provided him with a foundation to build a successful career as senior vice president, general counsel & secretary of Meadowbrook Insurance Group, Inc.

He is upbeat about the future of the association especially since there have been recent increases in the Annual Fund. With a reinvigorated and effective board in place, Costello looks forward to assisting Dean Mark Gordon with his next special project of updating the School of Law’s facilities.