The 2012-2013 academic year has been under way since mid-August for our new and returning students in the schools of Dentistry and Law; and the freshmen, upperclassmen and other new and graduate students began classes the day after Labor Day.
Students on the McNichols Campus returned to see not only a new 40,000 square-foot Student Fitness Center, but also a beautiful park-like and newly landscaped Kassab Mall adjacent to the Center. Even though students have been able to enjoy the Student Fitness Center since the first day of classes on the McNichols Campus, the official dedication occurred on the same day as our Celebrate Spirit! Mass on September 20—nearly one year to the day of the Center’s 2011 groundbreaking. See the pictures of this vibrant facility until you can come on campus and see it in person. The Student Fitness Center is another essential infrastructure investment that UDM has made over the last few years on each of our three campuses so that students’ quality of life is at the highest level possible. We also have plans for an adjoining Natatorium in Phase II, but I will tell you about that in a future issue of Spiritus.
There was even more excitement at the University on Sept. 10 when we received news that for the 12th consecutive year, UDM ranked in the top tier of Midwest Best Regional Universities in the 2013 edition of the U.S.News & World Report’s “Best Colleges.” This year’s ranking is very special because it is both the highest ever for UDM and one of the highest in the state; and UDM moved up three places from #23 to #20 in the magazine’s annual list of regional universities. This national honor is a tribute to the quality of teaching, scholarship and mentoring our faculty and staff provide daily to our academically talented students.
To continue to recruit and enroll more outstanding students to UDM, increasing scholarship support for them is essential. Your alumni donations are very important and appreciated; and we are fortunate to have friends who also want us to remain competitive. As an example of that “friend support,” the Mary G. Stange Charitable Trust has pledged $1,000,000, provided that UDM can raise a match of $2 million, to establish the UDM Michigan Scholars Endowment Fund to increase the enrollment of academically talented Michigan high school students. When the challenge has concluded in December 2014, at least $3,000,000 will have been raised to provide significant scholarship support for a distinguished group of high school graduates to attend UDM annually. In addition to your contributions to this perpetual endowment, we will also be pursuing donations from businesses, corporations and foundations. If you would like to contribute to this Endowment Fund or know of other potential contributors, please contact Barbara Milbauer, interim vice president for University Advancement.
In a few days, we will also be celebrating the School of Law’s 100th anniversary, which is the cover story of this issue of Spiritus. Four of our School of Law alumni are profiled, including two 1920s and 1930s graduates who not only had a strong will and determination to overcome significant challenges or adversity in their lives, but who also attended the then University of Detroit School of Law. The ability of these alumni to excel in their personal lives and professional careers, in addition to helping their local community, reflect our alumni from of University of Detroit, Mercy College and University of Detroit Mercy.
The School of Law and the University have planned many events for this 100-year milestone, and we hope you will celebrate with us. The events are listed on School of Law’s website.
Over the last year, another priority of mine was the development of plans and collaborations to enhance the infrastructure and appearance of the streets surrounding our three campuses. One of the positive results of those yearlong discussions was, as you can see on page 9, our hosting of Mayor Dave Bing’s tour of the campus and the Livernois Corridor in early August. The University is naturally very supportive of the city’s initiatives to improve and strengthen our nearby neighborhoods and city services; and we are jointly exploring a potential streetscape enhancement partnership that will enhance the look of Livernois from the Lodge Freeway to McNichols over the next few years. As these plans get closer to reality, I will share more details with you. In the meantime, visit the UDM Corktown, Riverfront and McNichols campuses to see the extensive construction and renovation projects that have already been completed.
Finally, I am pleased to report that the Board of Trustees approved the UDM Strategic Plan: 2012-2016 at our June 2012 board meeting. This University-wide initiative that faculty, staff, students and I developed last school year after numerous committee meetings and campus-wide forums, and with input from the University community and alumni, resulted in the Strategic Plan’s five primary goals: 1) Drive Academic and Institutional Excellence; 2.) Increase Enrollment, Retention, and Graduation of Students; 3.) Heighten the Distinction of the University; 4.) Create a Culture that Fosters Effective Management and Strong Financial Health and 5.) Amplify the University’s Dynamic Community Engagement. Implementation of the plan is already under way, and you can learn more about the major goals and objectives. This plan is our blueprint for a dynamic University of Detroit Mercy over the next five years.
I hope you enjoy this issue of Spiritus, and I look forward to seeing you at some of our special events and activities over the next few months. And thank you for your continuous support of the University.
Antoine M. Garibaldi, Ph.D.