Michael Carter, Sr. '72, '78
Entrepreneur funds grant proposal initiative
Michael A. Carter, Sr. ’72, ’78, wants to help students who are struggling as they adjust to the rigors of the University of Detroit Mercy—a situation that he knows well. A U of D graduate who holds a liberal arts degree and an MBA, he recently made a generous gift to secure the services of Strategic Partners, Inc., a resource development consulting firm specializing in not-for-profit organizations. Carter, along with Strategic Partners, the dean and the director of Development of the College of Liberal Arts & Education (CLAE), members of the Dean’s Advisory Board and faculty and staff are working towards the creation of a program that provides value-driven measureable outcomes centered around four key cornerstones of support to incoming and existing CLAE students. These include: academic assistance, guidance and life counseling, leadership development training and peer-to-peer mentorship.
As a teen, Carter belonged to the inaugural 1968 Project 100 (P-100) class, which grew out of the University’s Aim High Program. The program was initiated by the late Malcolm Carron, S.J., who was president of U of D for 13 years. Carter cobbled together money for tuition through grants, scholarships and by working part time during the school year and full time in the summer as an autoworker and lifeguard.
Carter attributes his first year’s success at U of D to P-100 Counselor Dolores Davis, his “guardian angel.” She called Carter every night his first college semester to inquire about his homework, classes and professors. She also counseled him to “keep his eye on the prize”—graduating on time. Two other key figures in the P-100 program, Wendell Rayburn and James Woodruff, served as confidants and role models to Carter, both impacting his life in ways he describes as “immeasurable.”
“During my college years, I had the love and backing of family, especially my parents, aunts and uncles, my wife and my late sister, Pamela. This support plus the steady mentoring of Drs. Davis, Rayburn and Woodruff played a major role in my graduating from U of D,” says Carter. “My financial support to UDM’s CLAE is due to their legacy and is also a way to continue Fr. Carron’s commitment to educating youth who have the desire to attend college, but lack the financial, social integration and academic support needed to succeed.”
Carter not only received a great education at U of D, he also met his future wife, Pamela Fanning ’71. The two met at a Shakespeare play; he as a critic, Pam as an usher. Pam finished with a degree in Social Work, earned a law degree from Indiana University School of Law, and is now president of Cummins Distribution Business.
Upon graduation, Carter landed a teaching job (he was practical enough to also earn a teaching certificate). He later worked as a swimming coach and an assistant purchasing agent at the Fisher Body Division of General Motors Corp. He returned to U of D for his MBA and started a janitorial company. He later became a sales representative at Xerox Corp. and held managerial positions in the health and medical industry.
In 2002, he founded and became president and chief executive officer of Athena Health Club and Day Spa in Nashville, Tenn., and managing partner of Pinnacle Construction Partners.
A member of the UDM CLAE Dean’s Advisory Board, Carter is dedicated to helping students succeed. The Carters’ two children are a testament to that: Michael Jr., is a graduating law school student and Marcy works for a Fortune 500 company.
Of his recent gift, Carter says, “I’m thrilled to be able to give back to the University that provided an opportunity to further my educational goals. I take seriously the idea and concept behind: “To whom much is given, much is expected.”