It has almost been a full year since my arrival at the University last June, and I must say that getting to know many of the faculty and staff on our three campuses has been inspiring. Their commitment to teaching and scholarly excellence in the preparation of our undergraduate, graduate and professional students is unparalleled; and my daily conversations with students confirm their high regard for the faculty and staff’s accessibility and dedication to them. Personal attention is a defining feature of a UDM education.
Over the past year I have also met many alumni in the region and several have celebrated historic events with us, including the centennials of our Engineering programs and the Cooperative Education program and the December 2011 dedication of the Dick Vitale Court. On Oct. 27 this year, we will celebrate the School of Law’s centennial with many outstanding attorneys and jurists who are alumni at a Gala at the Detroit Athletic Club. These types of events allow me to meet many of our 83,000 alumni from around the country and also Detroit; but I plan to visit you near your cities and towns, too. And when you come to Detroit, I encourage you to visit our three beautiful campuses of 90 acres. You will be as impressed as I have been with our historic facilities, especially those that have been recently renovated.
Our centennial celebrations have generated much favorable publicity for the University this year, but many other events and activities have occurred that are highlighted in this issue of Spiritus. A very personal one is the memorable Inauguration celebration that the University honored me with on April 13. I am very thankful to the Board of Trustees and alumni who sponsored and supported the events, as well as many members of the UDM Community who planned and organized the Mass and other Inauguration festivities. It was a great way for us to celebrate and be reminded of the University’s 135-year history.
Students returned to campus in January to a beautifully renovated Chemistry Building. The building’s interior was completely reconstructed with a remodeled entrance, newly tiled floors, and new classrooms with the latest technology. The School of Law’s Dowling Hall also received a comprehensive renovation in 2011 and was rededicated last November. If you have not been to the School of Law’s Riverfront Campus recently, you must make a visit. In the meantime, take a virtual tour of the building by visiting www.law.udmercy.edu. On behalf of the School of Law, the University also purchased an historic firehouse building on Larned Street, just half a block from the School’s campus. After the building has been renovated, it will be the new home of the School’s 10 law clinics.
Winter at UDM was exciting because of the excellent play of our Titan Men’s and Women’s Basketball teams. Both teams garnered significant local and national media coverage because of their outstanding performances in the Horizon League Tournaments. The men’s team won the 2012 Horizon League Championship and also finished the season as the 15th seed in the NCAA Tournament, facing #2 seed Kansas on March 16. And, even though the women’s team lost to University of Wisconsin Green Bay in the Horizon League Championship, Coach Rademacher was selected as Horizon League Coach of the Year and the Lady Titans received an automatic bid to the WNIT. Coach Ray McCallum and Coach Autumn Rademacher and their respective student-athletes not only demonstrated their strong determination and athletic skills during the season, but their display of talent on the regional and national stage gave us the opportunity to tout the honor roll accomplishments of our more than 300 student-athletes (representing 19 Division I sports), 71% of whom had GPAs of 3.0 and higher and 41% of the total who had a 3.5 GPA and higher in the fall semester of this academic year.
Over the last eight months, much time and attention have been devoted to developing a strategic plan that can chart UDM’s future over the next five years. The UDM community and some of you have participated in these discussions, and I truly appreciate your involvement. The draft of the plan, which was developed under the leadership of the Shared Governance Strategic Planning Team, was presented to the UDM Board of Trustees in late March. You can read more about plan’s details on the Inauguration website.
During the year I have also enjoyed visiting some of the local area’s parochial, public and independent high schools, including: U of D Jesuit, Loyola, Mercy, Bishop Foley, Brother Rice, Cass Tech, Catholic Central, De LaSalle, Divine Child, Regina, Renaissance, and the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy. UDM’s future is dependent on strengthened and renewed relationships with educational institutions; however, we need to take more advantage of this opportunity because many of our alumni are presidents, principals, teachers, counselors, librarians and other key staff members in these schools. My meetings with the superintendent of the Archdiocese of Detroit Schools, the emergency financial manager of the Detroit Public Schools and other superintendents have been encouraging; but I am hopeful that our alumni in the education profession will contact our Admissions Office so that we can develop more collaborations with their schools.
Finally, our planning for a major comprehensive campaign is almost complete. Thank you to those of you who have met with or talked to our national consultants. The success of this campaign will ensure that UDM’s high quality Jesuit and Mercy education is sustained for many years.
Thank you again for the wonderful welcome and support you have given me this year.
Antoine M. Garibaldi, Ph.D.