Donor highlight: Dr. Leonard Plachta
Leonard E. Plachta, Ph.D., and President Emeritus of Central Michigan University, was a leader and innovator. He was a man of integrity and professionalism whose dedication and commitment served as an inspiration to those who knew him. Above all, Dr. Plachta was a teacher.
In his memory, the University of Detroit Mercy is proud to establish the Dr. Leonard E. Plachta Endowed Scholarship with the hope that it will inspire future Accounting majors to pursue vocations in teaching at the collegiate level.
Dr. Plachta was born on April 23, 1929, in Detroit, the son of Louis and Veronica Plachta. On September 2, 1957, he married Louise Szynal.
He graduated from St. Andrew High School in 1947 and continued his studies at the University of Detroit on the GI Bill. He received a B.S. in Accounting in 1956 and an M.B.A. in Finance in 1959. His Jesuit education, with its strong emphasis on ethics and service to others, was to have a lasting influence on his career and his life.
In 1964, he received a Ph.D. in Business Administration from Michigan State University and in 1965, the Ford Foundation at the University of Chicago sponsored his postdoctoral studies. During his Ph.D. studies, he taught at MSU.
From 1961-1970 Dr. Plachta served as a professor of Accounting at the University of Detroit, where he was recognized and highly regarded among the faculty and students for high ethical standards in accounting and a commitment to academic excellence.
In 1970 Dr. Plachta and his family moved to Alma, Michigan. At Alma College he was chairperson of the Finance Department. In 1972, he left the college and assumed a full professorship at Central Michigan University. He rose through the ranks to acting dean, assistant dean, and dean of the College of Business before being named president of Central Michigan University in November, 1991. He served in that capacity from January 1992 to July 2000.
During his tenure as president, Dr. Plachta brought about many changes to CMU—changes which leave a long-lasting legacy at the university. Notable among his accomplishments were the expansion of off-campus programs and distance learning, the founding of the CMU Leadership Institute and establishment of the leadership minor.
From 1992 to 2000, he oversaw the expansion of internship opportunities; development of a career services center; the initiation of a number of service learning programs; and licensing by CMU of the first public charter school in Michigan. Because he was keenly aware of the lack of medical services to the underprivileged in rural areas, he saw the expansion of CMU's health care services, i.e., the Physician Assistant and Physical Therapy programs.
Dr. Plachta was respected for his commitment to learning and higher education and loved for his warmth and laughter. His life's work and accomplishments are examples of the fulfillment of the ideals of leadership and service.