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Spring 2009

Inside View

• Rare 19th century treasure found in UDM basement
• UDM, Highland Park team up for Community Resource Day
• UDM recognized nationally for community service
• Fr. Albright celebrates 50 years in the priesthood
• Sacred Spaces
• UDM co-sponsors Detroit mayoral forum
• School of Law's Project SALUTE honored by 110th Fighter Wing
• Economics professor and UDM alumnus discuss changing economic landscape
• Virtual classroom creates exciting pedagogical opportunities for faculty
• Updates from the Schools and Colleges

Rare 19th century treasure found in UDM basement

UDM Jesuit Community-owned Robert Scott Duncanson painting now on display at Detroit Institute of Arts

foot of the crossFive years ago, a rare painting owned by the University of Detroit Mercy Jesuit Community was found in a dusty basement on the McNichols Campus. That piece is now hanging on the walls of the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA).

The work, At the Foot of the Cross (pictured at right), a rare biblical scene painted by 19th-century African-American artist Robert Scott Duncanson, was recently given on loan to the DIA as an unexpected addition to its outstanding collection of African-American art. The painting was unknown to scholars of the internationally acclaimed artist until its discovery.

“When we found an old painting in our basement a few years ago, I could never have imagined that today it would be hanging on the wall at the DIA, says Gary Wright, S.J., rector of the UDM Jesuit Community and director of University Ministry. “The Jesuit Community at UDM wanted to be able to share this treasure of our city’s African-American heritage with the whole community.”

Duncanson (1821-1872) primarily painted portraits and genre paintings, and came to Detroit in 1845 in search of commissions. He painted portraits of prominent Detroit citizens such as Henri Berthelet and his young grandson, William. He maintained a studio in downtown Detroit and advertised his talents in the Detroit Free Press. Before his departure in 1846, the Detroit Daily Advertiser remarked favorably on Duncanson’s skill as a painter. The artist would return to the area many times in his life, making Detroit and Cincinnati his primary residences.

The recently discovered painting, in which he explores a religious subject, was executed by the artist during his formative years when, like many emerging artists, he went through a period of experimentation. It is signed by Duncanson and dated 1846, a year when he is known to have worked in Detroit.

“The General Motors Center for African American Art is delighted that the Jesuit Community at UDM  has loaned the painting to the DIA,” says Graham W. J. Beal, DIA director. “This new addition to the museum’s 19th-century African-American art gallery, alongside Duncanson’s portrait, still-life, genre and landscape paintings, enriches the DIA’s presentation of this important artist with significant ties to Detroit.”

Much research remains to be done on At the Foot of the Cross. The discovery of this rare painting will provide further insight into the development of Duncanson’s analytical, technical and stylistic skills. It is relevant to American art history because it reveals Duncanson’s exploration of Christian art, for which there was no distinct American tradition in the 19th century.

UDM, Highland Park team up for Community Resource Day

University of Detroit Mercy, in conjunction with the City of Highland Park, the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), and Cities of Promise, provided free services to residents on Community Resource Day, March 28 at the Ernest T. Ford Recreation Center in Highland Park. Services and information offered included: counseling in addictions, career exploration, school counseling & Medicaid application completion; oral health education, dental screenings; family literacy including college & academic information; assistance and/or referrals with legal problems related to senior issues, immigration, veterans benefits, and criminal and some general legal matters; information on healthy nutrition, the MI Child Health Plan, and primary health care services available at the McAuley Health Center; and workshops on coping with grief and loss, coping with violence related trauma and understanding special education testing for kids.

Charles Marske, dean of UDM’s College of Liberal Arts & Education, was instrumental in putting together this unique project with the City of Highland Park. “With such a vibrant past, Highland Park is a great city that has experienced tough times these past few years,” says Marske. “We are so happy to be able to bring together many of our best academics to help coordinate many programs for the City’s residents.”

MSHDA, through Cities of Promise, has committed to fund up to $25 million over the next four years toward blight elimination in the eight Cities of Promise—Benton Harbor, Detroit, Flint, Hamtramck, Highland Park, Muskegon Heights, Pontiac and Saginaw.

“We are so very pleased that UDM, the State and MSHDA are providing much needed services to Highland Park residents,” says Mayor Hubert Yopp. “This is exactly what we need—while so many residents are unable to afford the type of legal, dental and educational services for area residents.”

UDM recognized nationally for community service

asbUniversity of Detroit Mercy is one of 23 Jesuit colleges and universities named to the 2008 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. The Honor Roll included 635 colleges and universities in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

Now in its third year, the Honor Roll recognizes schools for their community service programs and student involvement. It is sponsored by the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation, and the U.S. Departments of Education and Housing & Urban Development. Additionally, Campus Compact and the American Council on Education serve as partners. Last year, UDM was among 18 Jesuit schools included on the Honor Roll.

Commenting on this achievement, Charles L. Currie, S.J., president of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, noted that the Jesuit commitment to educate men and women for lives of leadership, service and justice is central to the mission of these schools. He added that “this commitment is reflected in a wide variety of campus programs and projects sponsored by Jesuit colleges and universities, but most importantly, in the lives of graduates lived generously in service to their communities.”

Fr. Albright celebrates 50 years in the priesthood

fr. albrightUDM Professor of Biology R. Gerard Albright, S.J. (pictured at left), celebrated 50 years in the priesthood this past December. Ordained in 1958 at West Baden College (West Baden, Ind.), Fr. Albright came to the University of Detroit in 1959. In the Fall 2008 Company magazine, he reflected on his half-century of service:

“Lending a hand to our students as they prepare for and face the ups and downs of life is itself a wonderful and worthwhile enterprise. But to help them more intimately bring God into the picture is of key importance, and by far the greater challenge for me. Looking back over the decades, as well as ahead toward whatever is to come, I view this as the essence of what my call from God to life as a Jesuit is really all about.”

Sacred Spaces

st. joseph the workerThe renovation of the St. Joseph the Worker Church (pictured at right) in Grand Rapids, Mich. is the first completed project of the University’s Liturgical Space Consulting Service, an offshoot of the Detroit Collaborative Design Center, housed in the School of Architecture. Provided by Assistant Professor of Architecture Gilbert Sunghera, S.J., the service’s mission is to re-engage the broader design community into the creation of contemporary sacred space. St. Joseph the Worker is a “gateway” parish for Hispanic immigrants in Grand Rapids. This population’s current church was too small for the growing congregation, so a Christian Reform church was purchased and remodeled to serve the needs of this diverse population. Read more about the church

UDM co-sponsors Detroit mayoral forum

mayoral forumUDM co-sponsored a Detroit Mayoral Candidate Forum last December with Wayne County Commissioner Keith D. Williams, University Commons and several community organizations. Moderated by Charles Pugh (WJBK Fox 2 Detroit) and WJLB Radio, the event was held in the Fountain Lounge, McNichols Campus. Participating candidates included: (l to r) Dave Bing, D. Etta Wilcoxon, Mayor Kenneth V. Cockrel, Jr., and (not pictured were) Sheriff  Warren Evans ‘79, Freeman Hendrix, Joseph Warren Holt, Nicholas Hood, III, Duane Montgomery, Jerroll M. Sanders and Coleman A. Young, II.

School of Law’s Project SALUTE honored by 110th Fighter Wing

flag ceremonyThe University of Detroit Mercy School of Law— in honor of Project SALUTE—was presented Dec. 7 with an American flag that flew over Iraq by the Air National Guard 110th Fighter Wing of Battle Creek.  The presentation took place before the Detroit Lions game at Ford Field.

During the past year, the School has toured the country through its Project Salute national tour in its Mobile Law Office (MLO), providing free legal information and assistance to ensure representation to thousands of low-income veterans on federal disability and pension benefit matters.

Last summer, the 110th Fighter Wing deployed its A-10 Thunderbolts to Iraq. Air Force Lt. Colonel Lisa Ryan, wife of UDM law student Sean Ryan, requested the American flag be flown in honor of Project SALUTE. The 110th Fighter Wing’s Commander honored that request on June 20.

“It’s a great honor to accept this flag from the Air National Guard 110th Fighter Wing of Battle Creek,” says School of Law Dean Mark Gordon. “We are proud to be part of a national effort to assist veterans, but we realize there is more work to be done. We will continue to speak with veterans around the country as part of our Project SALUTE and will assist those veterans in need in any way we can.”

Through Project SALUTE, volunteer attorneys and UDM Law faculty and students have counseled and/or otherwise assisted approximately 2,000 veterans over the past year during more than 80 stops in Michigan, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, New York, California, and Tennessee. Over the next several months, UDM’s Project SALUTE will be visiting locations in Georgia, Texas, Puerto Rico, North Carolina, and South Carolina, among others. While on tour, UDM law students and faculty provide educational information to veterans regarding their federal veterans benefits, meet individually with veterans requesting assistance with their particular issues, and provide training to local attorneys willing to assist veterans pro bono with federal benefits claims.

Pictured above: Col. Frank Walker, representing the 110th Air National Guard Wing (right), presents School of Law Dean Mark Gordon with a flag that was flown over Iraq by the Air National Guard 110th Fighter Wing of Battle Creek. Looking on is Greg Ulrich '74, '77.

Economics professor and UDM alumnus discuss changing economic landscape

Experts have blamed the economic downturn of 2008 on any number of recent events, but according to Paul Ballew ‘88, ‘92, the economy’s failure is not accidental, but rather results from decades of buildups and poor choices. Ballew, senior vice president of Consumer Insight & Analytics for the Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, joined UDM Economics Professor Donald Byrne Feb. 7 on the McNichols Campus for the symposium, “The Changing Economic Landscape-2008.”

Byrne and Ballew, who have co-authored economic writings, examined 2008’s economic demise as well as the rapidly changing American workplace. In addition, they discussed the country’s financial condition, starting from the Great Depression to the present.

In particular, Ballew, who previously served as chief sales forecaster with General Motors Corporation, emphasized America’s growth in indebtedness, and the recent housing boom. Rather than savings, Americans have tended to rely on their house as their primary investment. This, Ballew contends, is foolish. “No asset appreciates 15 to 20 percent in a year,” he said.

Additionally, the national government created an aura of invincibility. “They acted like they had all the answers,” Ballew added. External shocks like September 11, hurricanes and energy prices, offered a tipping point to a nation where debt often exceeds income.

The author of  An Economics Newsletter for the New Millennium, Byrne has taught at UDM for more than 40 years. At the symposium, Byrne contended that the economic instability of the last 10 years was not solely due to the failure of the private sector but rather the failure of economic policy. According to Byrne, combinations of bad policies resulted in the 2000 and 2008 collapses in the American economy. “It was not simply problems from within the private sector of the economy that caused these collapses,” he said. “It was also combinations of ill-advised economic policies by the anti-trust agencies, Congress, and the federal government.”

The bad policy decisions, Byrne contended, resulted from the failure of policy-making authorities to comprehend the American economic and financial changes stemming from the Depression. Byrne calls the resultant situation “The New Paradigm.”

Fuel played a strong part in our economic downturn, too. “The failure of the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission to effectively enforce the antitrust laws resulted in the re-cartelization of the American Oil Industry in the 1990s,” Byrne said.  “In addition, 13 of the larger oil companies merged into six.”

Byrne and Ballew agree, however, that the public has responded to the economic crisis. Currently, Americans are exercising financial restraint. Retail sales are down significantly, as the steady occurrence of job losses added to the fall of consumer confidence. However, both economists see the recession easing by decade’s end, and the symposium ended with words of encouragement. “Americans have a tremendous work ethic,” Byrne said. “They are not afraid to do what needs to be done.” Ballew concurred. “Recovery will occur,” he said. “Our kids will live good lives due to technology and ingenuity.”

Virtual classroom creates exciting pedagogical opportunities for faculty

studyingUDM recently installed the Wimba Classroom solution, a real-time, virtual classroom environment with robust features that include audio, video, application sharing and content display.Its pedagogical design and ease-of-use ensures that educators and students engage as if they were meeting face-to-face. Faculty are finding this as an easy-to-use solution to move portions of their course delivery into an online format. Advanced features such as polling, whiteboarding, presenter on-the-fly, resizable chat areas, participant lists, usage analytics tools, and MP3 downloads enable further dynamic interaction between students and educators.

Wimba became available to UDM faculty in December, and Katherine Snyder, associate professor and chair of Mathematics and Computer Science, is using Wimba as part of the MTH 101 Algebra course she is teaching BSN Completion students. This is the first time the course is being offered online. UDM’s BSN Completion program is taught off site, requiring students to take the Algebra course at a community college and transfer it to UDM. Through Wimba, Snyder can provide online office hours to these students at convenient times. She makes herself available online at 8 p.m. on Thursdays and at noon on Sundays. She can also respond to student’s questions about homework and other topics on the Wimba whiteboard. Snyder says Wimba is a great way to add interactivity to the course.

This summer, Snyder says she’ll also be using Wimba as part of the Master of Arts in Teaching Mathematics for online office hours and for discussions on assigned readings.

Updates from the Schools and Colleges

Architecture: At the end of December, The Kresge Foundation approved a Detroit Program grant of $250,000 over a period of three years to provide operating support for the Detroit Collaborative Design Center. The Foundation’s Detroit Program is a comprehensive, community-development effort to strengthen the long-term economic, social and cultural fabric of the city and surrounding area. The Design Center was also awarded funding of $30,000 for a project entitled PlayHouse: An Exterior Urban Community Theatre, located at the Heidelberg Project on the east side of Detroit. The intent of this project is to work with neighborhood stakeholders in the design and fabrication of a theater that will become an artistic and cultural centerpiece of the surrounding community.

Business Administra­tion: A team of three MBA students from the College of Business Administration won the second annual Association for Corporate Growth Detroit Cup, an intercollegiate student competition on mergers and acquisitions, Feb. 21 at the Troy campus of Walsh College.  Students Jennifer Gallagher, Ann Morgan and Brian Powrozek beat out teams from University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Wayne State University and Walsh.
Beginning in fall 2009, CBA will admit qualified students into a five-year program leading to completion of both a Bachelor of Science and Master in Business Administration. Students admitted will complete the BSBA in four years and complete the MBA degree by the end of the fifth year.

Engineering & Science: The College honored two distinguished alumni at the 77th Annual Slide Rule Dinner on March 28. The Engineering Alumnus of the Year award went to Derrick Kuzak ‘76, group vice president, Global Product Development at Ford Motor Company. Michael J. Rokosz ‘70, president and founder of MJR Labs, was awarded the Science Alumnus of the Year honor.

Health Professions/McAuley School of Nursing: MSON is one of 10 nursing schools nationwide selected by the Department of Veterans Affairs to partner in educating nurses in health care facilities established for veterans. Under the VA Nursing Academy, a five-year pilot program aims to increase the number of nursing school students by increasing the number of faculty and clinical sites.

Liberal Arts & Education: The World Heritage Foundation awarded the UDM Counseling Clinic $30,000 to support the work of the clinic. The money will be used primarily for infrastructure improvements. Approximately $60,000 has been awarded to the Counseling Clinic over the last year.

Read more School and College news.