A year of moments

Impact Report
October 2015 – September 2016

Pivotal Moments: Our Campaign for Wayne State University celebrates the life-changing moments the university has helped ignite and creates new ones. Wayne State invites alumni, friends, corporations and foundations to be a part of the campaign by investing in four priority areas: inspire, discover, create and engage.

Our campaign is an ambitious effort with a goal to raise $750 million by 2018, the 150th anniversary of the university’s founding. Following a record fundraising year, Wayne State University has reached $594 million toward its goal of $750 million for Pivotal Moments: Our Campaign for Wayne State University.

M. Roy Wilson, President, Wayne State University

In the past year, the generosity of Wayne State University’s alumni and friends has been unprecedented. The university received the single largest gift in its history from Mike and Marian Ilitch, and our annual fundraising total of $131 million set a new record for Wayne State. Gifts of all sizes to every school and college contributed to our success.

I am most proud, however, of the impact these gifts have made.

Through the stories below, you will learn about some of the life-changing moments your generosity has made possible.

Thank you for your support.

M. Roy Wilson President, Wayne State University

Every gift to every area of the university is part of the Pivotal Moments campaign, and more than 71,000 alumni and friends have contributed to date.

The Pivotal Moments campaign leadership consists of honorary chairs and a steering committee that includes representation from the Wayne State University Foundation Board and each of the school, college and unit campaign committees. Visit Pivotal Moments to see a complete list of our generous volunteers.

Our mission: We will create and advance knowledge, prepare a diverse student body to thrive, and positively impact local and global communities.


Inspire our students and faculty to be curious and passionate

The professor lecturing at the front of the classroom—it’s a tradition. But Wayne State offers more than tradition. We offer inspiration.

An investment in the Inspire priority helps students thrive, preparing them for personal and professional success. Over the past year, support for scholarships, fellowships and extracurricular programs has helped ensure every student can afford college, complete their degree and make an impact on the world.

This is Inspire, and it is the enduring legacy of Wayne State.

  • Watch Inspire
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  • Informed and involved

    Informed and involved

    A graduate fellowship enabled Leda McIntyre Hall ’84 Ph.D. to earn her doctorate in political science at Wayne State. “Had there not been that fellowship, it wouldn’t have even been an option for me to go back to school,” McIntyre Hall said.

    Now, after a successful academic career, she is sharing that same opportunity with future generations of students. McIntyre Hall committed $750,000 to establish an endowed fellowship, which will provide tuition support for one Ph.D. student in the Department of Political Science each year.

    “When I look back on my career, which I’ve really enjoyed, I couldn’t have done it without Wayne State,” she said. After graduating from Wayne State, McIntyre Hall spent 26 years as a faculty member at Indiana University South Bend. She also has taught at Notre Dame University, Eastern Kentucky University and the University of Kentucky. She currently teaches a health care management course at George Washington University.

    Throughout, McIntyre Hall combined her professional career with a passion for political activism, fighting for social justice and community.

    “I believe very deeply that people ought to be educated and informed and involved. I may be even more committed to that idea than I was at the beginning of my career.”

  • A lasting tribute

    A lasting tribute

    Philanthropy can be a way to honor the past as well as change the future. So with the passing of Richard Slaughter, a beloved member of the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, colleagues and friends knew they wanted to create a scholarship in his memory.

    “We were able to establish that scholarship and fully endow it in one week’s time,” said Beverly Schmoll ’67 B.A., ’72 M.A., an alumna and former dean of the college who led the group fundraising effort with assistant professor emerita Geralynn Smith. “That’s pretty incredible, but it speaks to the love and admiration that we have for Rick Slaughter.”

    Associate Dean and Professor Richard Slaughter was a leader in the college and in the pharmacy profession. The scholarship established in his memory is appropriately named the Academic Leadership Scholarship, and it will be awarded to students who demonstrate academic excellence as well as leadership and service in pharmacy.

    “Rick Slaughter was one of the finest educators and role models I have had the privilege of knowing,” said George Corcoran, professor and chair of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences. “Rick was a force for good, and he is deeply missed.”

    As Slaughter fought pancreatic cancer, he was supported and encouraged by the college community. Pharmacy students even created wristbands inscribed with the message “No one fights alone – RLS.” Though he is missed, Slaughter’s commitment to students continues through the Academic Leadership Scholarship.

    “We thought it was really important to pay tribute to him,” said Schmoll, “and to ensure that his legacy lived on forever.”

  • For the future of social work

    For the future of social work

    Students in Wayne State’s School of Social Work will benefit from a new scholarship, thanks to the largest gift from an alumnus in the school’s history.

    Betty Appich received her bachelor of social work from Wayne State in 1982 on a full scholarship. Now she and her husband Horst have created the Betty Schmalzle-Appich and Horst G. Appich Endowed Scholarship for high-achieving students with financial need.

    Betty and Horst decided to give to the school in honor of Betty’s grandparents. Her grandfather survived incarceration in a World War II work camp, and her grandparents raised Betty until age 12, when she moved to America.

    “My grandparents instilled in me a very strong sense of being responsible for my existence, in the sense that my worth is based on whether I’ve made the world a better place,” said Betty.

    Betty dedicated her career to improving lives, working with troubled families at Brightmoor Community Center and Northwest Guidance Clinic. She was honored by the State of Michigan for her service at Walter P. Reuther Psychiatric Hospital.

    Betty said she and Horst “never made a whole lot of money,” and believes that wealth is not a prerequisite for generosity. Horst retired from a career with Ford Motor Company that began with an entry-level job on the assembly line.

    “We were frugal,” Betty said. “I feel good about the path we chose, because having a sense of peace in the decision to give to others is worth more to me than having a piece of something material.”

  • Big Sean gives big to HIGH Program

    Big Sean gives big to HIGH Program

    Local fans of recording artist Big Sean have yet another reason to like the Detroit native—his generosity. The Sean Anderson Foundation has committed $25,000 to establish a permanent endowed fund for the Wayne State University HIGH (Helping Individuals Go Higher) Program. The funds will be used to provide emergency support to Wayne State students experiencing homelessness or precarious housing situations.

    Big Sean established the Sean Anderson Foundation to provide better opportunities for those in need, including young people.

    “We see the HIGH Program as an important component of ensuring success at Wayne State, and we are proud to help strengthen its mission,” said Myra Anderson, president of the foundation and Sean’s mother. “We aim to boost graduation rates at the university by providing support to students facing hardship.”

    Wayne State’s First Lady Jacqueline Wilson founded the HIGH Program in 2013 when she learned of a Wayne State student who had experienced homelessness while attending school. Reports indicate student homelessness is a nationwide issue, and Wilson’s program offers a strategic response to this issue at Wayne State. Students in the HIGH Program receive short-term assistance with the goal of returning to long-term stability and completing their degrees.

    “The Sean Anderson Foundation’s investment in the HIGH Program shows their commitment to assisting those in need,” said Wilson. “With this gift, we will be able to help Wayne State students who are experiencing homelessness work toward a brighter future.”

  • Creating a legacy of opportunity

    Creating a legacy of opportunity

    Nearly 30 years ago, Geralyn Stephens ’88 M.Ed., ’94 Ed.D. forged what would become a lifelong friendship with her graduate school advisor, Professor Lola V. Jackson.

    “Being African American and coming from a certain socioeconomic background, there are certain things I did not know,” said Stephens. “She taught me not only about the field of career and technical education, but also professional networking strategies too. I wouldn’t have been prepared for my career without her.”

    Now an associate professor herself, Stephens has created an endowed scholarship through an estate gift to help working single parents with their educations.

    “The intent is to help the disenfranchised, and I’ve tried to target a certain population because I know the help was not available for me,” said Stephens, who earned her Wayne State degrees while raising a child on her own.

    In the U.S., 66 percent of single parent households include racial minorities. By creating a scholarship that will most likely help students of color, Stephens believes she is strengthening Wayne State’s commitment to diversity.

    “Our university says they have a commitment to diversity,” said Stephens, “and I’m hoping my gift will continue to move us beyond rhetoric into practice.”

    Stephens sees establishing an endowed fund as a way to continue impacting society even after she’s gone. “Giving a gift is a legacy, so 100 years from now I’ll still be trying to do the right thing in this world, but through this gift. It’s evidence of my perpetual commitment to that.”

  • Student-athletes lock up support

    Student-athletes lock up support

    As a docent at the Detroit Historical Museum, Phyllis DeMars ’78 B.A. has become enamored with the city of Detroit’s flag. So when she noticed it wasn’t flying at Wayne State University’s athletic complex, she took action.

    “She’s the kind of person that will make things happen if something isn’t right,” said her husband Greg DeMars ’77 B.A., ’79 M.P.A., ’81 J.D. “Now there’s an official Detroit flag flying at the complex.”

    This proactive spirit has infused Greg and Phyllis’s relationship with Wayne State over the years, progressing from hardworking students, to thankful alumni, to generous donors as members of the esteemed Anthony Wayne Society. Most recently, WSU Athletics named the DeMars Football Locker Room in honor of their support of student-athletes.

    Greg was a football player at Wayne State in the 1970s. “Football’s a tough sport,” he said, “but it has been a great influence on my life and gave me structure I still use.”

    As volunteers and philanthropists, Greg and Phyllis continue to demonstrate their take-charge spirit and Wayne State pride. Greg, a member of the Tartar Twelve club, volunteers for WSU Athletics’ Pivotal Moments campaign committee, and the couple see giving as a way to support the next generation of students.

    “Wayne State has an underrated role in the Detroit area, the state of Michigan and even the United States,” said Greg. “It gave us an opportunity, and we would like to see more people be given that same opportunity.”

  • Commitment beyond the classroom

    Commitment beyond the classroom

    When a representative of the Irvin D. Reid Honors College told Xhilda Xhemali ’15 B.S. she got the scholarship, Xhemali was in a happy state of shock: “I just kept telling her thank you!”

    Xhemali received the Roberts Family Annual Scholarship, which combined with her other scholarship, covered all of her college costs. Xhemali was prepared to work while attending school, but it was a relief that she didn’t have to. As a student in the Honors College HealthPro Start program, Xhemali needed to complete her undergraduate prerequisites in three years to claim her spot in Wayne State’s PharmD program.

    Receiving the Roberts Scholarship meant that Xhemali could pursue her dream of becoming a pharmacist and participate in extracurricular activities, like the Albanian American Student Organization. The jobs she did work were in preparation for her future career. “I worked for experience,” Xhemali said. “I didn’t work to pay tuition.”

    Other Roberts Scholars found their education similarly transformed. Second Lieutenant Douglas Mack ’14 B.S. struggled to get into a college honors program because of his mediocre ACT score. But Wayne State gave him a chance—and a full-ride scholarship. “Because of that scholarship, I was able to do things I never thought I would get to do,” said Mack.

    Relieved of the pressure to work full time, Mack joined Wayne State’s cross country team and conducted research in a chemistry lab. These experiences led him to his career in the military and medicine. “I have a debt I can only pay back with my gratitude,” said Mack.

    John and Anne Roberts, the scholarship’s founders and lifelong Detroiters, are always impressed by the Roberts Scholars’ talent and enthusiasm. “The students are inspiring,” said Anne. “I’m a big Wayne State supporter.”

  • A community resource

    A community resource

    Being a librarian is about more than loving books. “It’s a people-oriented job with a heavy dose of technology,” said Robert Holley, professor emeritus in the School of Library and Information Science at Wayne State University.

    Holley’s scholarship for Wayne State students reflects the broader role of libraries in our communities. The Robert P. Holley Endowed Scholarship is awarded to aspiring librarians who plan to work in urban areas, like Faith Kelley ’14 M.L.I.S.

    “I feel invested in the community,” said Kelley, who now works for the public library system in Washington, D.C. “The library is often the place people go when they don’t have anywhere else to go.”

    Qumisha Goss, who received the Holley Scholarship in 2015, also appreciates the importance of libraries in urban communities. “Libraries are a great venue to present new learning opportunities to children,” she said. A native Detroiter, Goss is working full time at the Detroit Public Library while earning her master’s degree. She plans to continue her career there after graduation. “I love my city, and I think it is important to give back,” she said.

    Holley recently committed to significantly expand the scholarship in the future through an estate gift. He hopes to help more students follow in his footsteps. “Scholarships and fellowships helped me throughout my education all the way to a Ph.D. from Yale,” said Holley. “I think that increasing the funding for this scholarship is an excellent way to give back and support someone else in achieving their educational goals.”


Discover new approaches, solutions and areas of inquiry through multidisciplinary, translational and applied research

New discoveries sometimes happen outside of the laboratory. Researchers find knowledge on the water, in the air, under the earth—even light years away. Wayne State makes all kinds of research possible.

An investment in the Discover priority enables our faculty and students to ask and answer questions that impact our society locally and globally. Over the past year, donors have supported research in many areas, from medicine and nursing to physics and financial security.

This is Discover, and it is new ideas, new solutions to life’s greatest challenges, and advancing the next generation of investigators and innovative thinkers.

  • Watch Discover
    Watch Discover
  • In search of solutions

    In search of solutions

    Associate professor emerita Judith Fry McComish ’71 M.S.N., ’84 Ph.D. spent her career researching ways to improve the well-being of vulnerable infants and their families. Through her generosity, that important work can now continue for generations to come.

    Fry McComish and her husband Philip have created the Dr. Judith Fry McComish and Philip A. McComish Endowed Research Fund in Wayne State’s College of Nursing. The endowment will be used to fund research and evidence-based interventions for infant mental health, an issue that is especially important in cities like Detroit with high infant mortality rates.

    “It’s paramount to have a secure attachment relationship between the infant and their caregiver,” said Fry McComish. “The College of Nursing is very supportive of efforts to improve the health of our Detroit community.”

    As a former faculty member and researcher,  Fry McComish understands the difficulty of obtaining research funding. She wanted her gift to provide more opportunities for nursing faculty members and doctoral students.

    “I know how hard it is for faculty to get support,” she said. “Wayne State has been good to me, so I wanted to give back to my school.”

  • Investing in vision

    Investing in vision

    Dr. Robert Jampel is living his commitment to educating and training new generations of ophthalmologists. During his 42 years at the Wayne State University School of Medicine, he served 24 years as chair of the Department of Ophthalmology and director of the Kresge Eye Institute (KEI), then another 18 years as a professor until his retirement in 2012.

    Dr. Jampel’s skilled leadership, coupled with a steadfast commitment to his specialty, established KEI as a world-renowned center for ophthalmology. Ever dedicated to his profession, Dr. Jampel is furthering his passion beyond retirement through his philanthropy.

    “It is my dream for the institute to have the most up-to-date facilities to provide the best research, teaching and patient care in the country,” he said.

    After creating multiple endowed funds for KEI, Dr. Jampel and his wife, Joan, recently pledged a new $500,000 gift. This contribution will support teaching, patient care and research aimed at preventing and curing blindness. It also will allow resources to be devoted to improve lecture spaces for faculty, residents, fellows and area ophthalmologists.

    “Wayne State is the soul of Detroit,” said Dr. Jampel, “and a gift to the School of Medicine is an investment in care for those who are going blind.”

  • The age of discovery

    The age of discovery

    As one of the largest providers of senior housing in the United States, Michigan-based American House Senior Living Communities is committed to improving life for older adults. That’s why the American House Foundation has given more than $250,000 to Wayne State University’s Institute of Gerontology (IOG) and continues to give on an annual basis.

    The IOG has used the gifts to improve health disparities, gain a deeper understanding of the impacts of poverty on older adults, and more recently, expand research in financial gerontology to promote financial health and safety for older adults.

    Peter Lichtenberg, director of the IOG, is the principal investigator for a program that will develop evidence-based instruments to combat the financial exploitation of older adults. One out of 20 older adults in the U.S. is a victim of financial exploitation, losing between $80,000 and $186,000 on average.

    The rating scale Lichtenberg is developing will allow financial, legal and human services professionals to assess the decision-making capabilities of their clients. The scale tests whether the older adult understood the financial decision and made it with integrity, which differs from whether the decision was wise. “Older adults, like all adults, have the right to make poor financial choices,” Lichtenberg said. “We need to assess whether the decision was authentic.”

    The American House Foundation has already contributed $25,000 to this research and has expressed a commitment to continue its support. Through its gifts to the Institute of Gerontology, the American House Foundation is ensuring a spirit of discovery for those investigating how we age.

  • Eyes on the prize

    Eyes on the prize

    Sultana Nahar ’82 M.A., ’87 Ph.D. created her first research prize in 2000 in her native country of Bangladesh. Since then, she has established prizes to motivate scientific researchers in several other countries, including India, Palestine and Egypt.

    But it was a special moment when the first Sultana N. Nahar prize was awarded at Wayne State University in 2016. As Nahar put it, “This is something I did for me.”

    Nahar didn’t know much about the U.S. when she came to Wayne State for her graduate studies, but she learned a lot from her experiences in Detroit. “Wayne State is like my home,” she said. “I can feel that connection.”

    After completing her Ph.D., Nahar became an accomplished astrophysicist, earning recognition from the American Physical Society, Egyptian Physical Society, Topical Society of Laser Sciences, and universities around the world. Since 1990, she has served on the Ohio State University faculty. She is known for her work on atomic processes in astronomical objects and has been nicknamed the Iron Lady for her extensive work on iron important in astronomy.

    Nahar began creating prizes to encourage fellow researchers to achieve at higher levels and to show appreciation for their work, especially those in developing countries. “Without research, there are no advances,” said Nahar. She also felt giving back was a moral imperative.

    Thanks to Nahar’s $55,000 gift, three prizes are now permanently funded at Wayne State: the Sultana N. Nahar prize for Distinction in Research in Physics and Astronomy, the Sultana N. Nahar prize for Distinction for Teaching Physics and Astronomy, and the Alburuj R. Rahman prize for the Best Ph.D. Dissertation in Physics/Astronomy (named in honor of her son).


Create fresh expressions of existing knowledge

Breaking ground on the new Mike Ilitch School of Business this year was a pivotal moment for business students, for Wayne State University and for the city of Detroit. While people are at the heart of Wayne State, we need spaces where our students and faculty can learn and put their ideas to work.

An investment in the Create priority provides spaces that foster collaboration and the sharing of ideas. Over the past year, support for new and refurbished spaces has helped Wayne State imagine what’s possible for a modern, urban campus—and then make it real.

This is Create, and it is a campus environment that nurtures new ways of thinking and doing.

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  • Wayne State means business

    Wayne State means business

    On October 30, 2015, Wayne State received the largest gift in its history when entrepreneurs Mike and Marian Ilitch committed $40 million to help build a new home for the university’s business school.

    The generous lead gift is helping to create a state-of-the-art facility for business education in the District Detroit, between downtown Detroit and Wayne State’s Midtown campus. In recognition of the historic investment, Wayne State renamed the school the Mike Ilitch School of Business.

    “Marian and I have experienced in our own lives how entrepreneurship creates opportunity, builds community and drives philanthropy,” said Mike Ilitch. “We’re thrilled to work with Wayne State to bring those same values to the next generation of Detroit entrepreneurs in a new state-of-the-art business school.”

    Many other friends, alumni and corporations have followed the Ilitches’ lead and invested in the new building. In recognition of a $2.5 million multi-year pledge from Lear Corporation, Wayne State will name the auditorium in the building the Lear Auditorium.

    Lear Corporation’s president and CEO, Matt Simoncini ’85 B.A., is a graduate of Wayne State’s business school and is committed to the community. “This gift is an investment in our future business leaders, the city of Detroit and the metro region,” said Simoncini.

    The new business school, located on Woodward Avenue at Temple Street, will provide much-needed space as enrollment in the M.B.A. program has nearly doubled over the past two years. The modern, high-tech facility will allow for future growth and new educational programs, and place students closer to jobs, internships and learning opportunities downtown.

    Wayne State celebrated the groundbreaking for the new Mike Ilitch School of Business on July 20, 2016. Construction is expected to be complete in 2018.

  • The university of swing

    The university of swing

    Jazz has an illustrious history at Wayne State University, and now it also has a vibrant future. In December 2015, the university received a $7.5 million commitment from philanthropist and jazz enthusiast Gretchen Valade.

    “This gift is both a celebration of the history and traditions of jazz in Detroit and a commitment to make sure this music is alive and vibrant for the next generations,” said Matthew Seeger, dean of the College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts.

    The majority of the gift—$5 million—will be used to transform the current Hilberry Theatre into the Gretchen Valade Jazz Center as part of the future Hilberry Gateway Performance Complex.

    “My love of jazz music and of this great city have inspired and motivated me my entire life,” said Valade. “Wayne State, in many ways, is the cultural epicenter of this city. So when an opportunity like this came up I was on board.”

    Valade’s gift also established the Gretchen Valade Endowed Scholarship in Jazz Studies and the Gretchen Valade Endowed Chair in Jazz Studies. The endowed chair provides teaching and research support for a distinguished jazz musician and educator.

    The inaugural chair holder is Professor Christopher Collins, director of jazz studies at Wayne State and artistic director for the Detroit Jazz Festival. Wayne State is the official educational partner of the Detroit Jazz Festival, the largest free jazz festival in the world. Collins has a distinguished record as a jazz educator and performer.

    “Gretchen Valade’s commitment to jazz artistry and education in the city of Detroit is simply astounding,” said Collins. “Her support will create new opportunities for jazz students, professional jazz artists, jazz scholars and audiences to come together in Midtown to learn, play and swing.”

  • Providing hands-on history

    Providing hands-on history

    Searching through stacks of rare books can be like going down a rabbit hole. Imagine, for instance, discovering a copy of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland featuring elaborate illustrations by surrealist painter Salvador Dalí. Wayne State University has an original copy of that book, printed in 1969 and signed by Dalí himself, among its special collections.

    “Frankly, we have really cool stuff, and it’s really great to see it in person,” said Cindy Krolikowski ’92 M.L.I.S., Wayne State’s special collections coordinator. “When someone is able to hold something like that in their hands and feel the history, it has a whole new meaning.”

    Currently, the university has no permanent location for these special collections items, but several generous alumni are working to change that. In the past year, Diane Rockall ’70 B.A., ’77 M.L.I.S., ’95 M.A., as well as Paulette Groen ’65 B.A., ’72 M.L.I.S. and her husband David, have contributed to support construction of a special collections and rare books room. Both Rockall and Groen are longtime supporters of Wayne State’s libraries and students.

    Although the special collections are not yet on public display, they are available to students and faculty members by request. Associate Professor of English Lisa Maruca has used rare books from the Victorian era for her children’s literature course.

    “In all my years of teaching, I’m not sure I had seen students that excited and enthusiastic. It was very meaningful for them to be literally in touch with works from history,” said Maruca. “Even in the next week’s class, they were still gushing about how much they enjoyed it.”

  • In it for the long term

    In it for the long term

    Jason Brown ’10 B.S. was a successful investor before he was a Wayne State graduate. After Brown experienced success in the stock market as a student, he felt confident enough to leave school in 2003 and pursue stock trading full time.

    Then, as quickly as he made his money, Brown lost it in just a few short years. Brown returned to Wayne State and earned his degree in finance in 2010, learning the foundational knowledge needed for long-term success in the markets and in building his business.

    Today, Brown runs an online stock market education company called The Brown Report, which offers affordable, accessible trainings on how to build wealth through long-term and short-term trading in the stock market.

    Brown was excited to learn about Mike and Marian Ilitch’s $40 million gift to help build a new business school at his alma mater—and he was motivated by their example. He has contributed $10,000 of his own money toward construction of the new Mike Ilitch School of Business, and a “sticky space” will be named for him in recognition of his gift. The space will provide a casual setting for students to study and meet.

    “I hope students enjoy the space and also see it as motivation to give back to the university and community after they leave. Maybe you don’t have 40 million dollars, but we all have something. So what can you give back to help others?” said Brown. “It was important for me to invest in something that will last. This building is going to be here for years, and I’m excited to see it come to life right in the heart of Detroit.”

  • The great wall

    The great wall

    The Miller Family Wayne Law Alumni Wall of Fame was created to inspire students—but it may be inspiring alumni too.

    On the day of their induction ceremony, two alumni in the Wall of Fame’s inaugural class announced major gifts to Wayne Law. Stephen M. Ross ’65 J.D. and Dan Gilbert ’87 J.D. each committed $5 million to create the Benson Legacy Fund for Wayne Law and the Benson Endowed Enhancement Fund for Wayne Law, in recognition of former Wayne Law Dean Jocelyn Benson. Both gifts represent the largest donations in the law school’s history.

    The Wall of Fame was made possible through a generous gift from another alumnus, E. Powell Miller ’86 J.D. Miller has close ties with Wayne Law and has been named one of the top 10 lawyers in the state by Michigan Super Lawyers magazine for the past seven years. He said he wanted to create the wall for both students and alumni: “I hope to boost the morale of the students, so they can see firsthand that there is no limit to what they may accomplish, and to strengthen the bond between the school and alumni.”

    Induction into the Wall of Fame is the highest award presented by Wayne Law. It is given to alumni who have distinguished themselves by contributions in their fields, or in the betterment of humanity, and to former faculty and staff members who have had a significant impact on the law school.

  • An Understudy steps in

    An Understudy steps in

    As a longtime volunteer and supporter of Wayne State University, Angela Rankin-Yohannes ’73 B.S. is eager to see the Hilberry Gateway Performance Complex rise in Midtown.

    Although Rankin-Yohannes studied business at Wayne State, she has always loved theatre. After years of subscribing to the Hilberry and Bonstelle Theatres at Wayne State, Rankin-Yohannes was invited to join the Understudies, an enthusiastic group of Hilberry supporters. The Understudies host opening night receptions, subscriber parties and graduate tribute nights, among other events.

    When Rankin-Yohannes saw the plans for the future Hilberry Gateway Performance Complex, she knew it was something she wanted to support as part of her annual giving. “This is a great investment and another diamond for Wayne State to shine,” she said. The project will upgrade and expand the current Hilberry Theatre to establish a new venue for theatre, music, dance and arts-related events in Detroit. The complex also will include the Gretchen Valade Jazz Center.

    While Rankin-Yohannes’ support of the Hilberry may be fueled by her love of theatre, there’s another reason for her generosity. Rankin-Yohannes gives to many areas of Wayne State because the university awarded her a Board of Governors scholarship at a time when she really needed it. “Wayne made it possible for me to continue my education,” she said. “It felt like winning the lottery.”

    Rankin-Yohannes strives to “pay it forward” with her giving and volunteer work at Wayne State. She said, “Once that scholarship was given so freely to me, I now have a debt of gratitude I can’t ever repay.”


Engage through community service, enriching the culture and economy of Detroit and beyond

Whether hosting programs for Detroit youth, promoting community health or sharing local news over the airwaves at WDET, Wayne State works and learns alongside our neighbors. This is more than community service—our students, faculty and staff engage with the community to apply knowledge beyond campus.

An investment in the Engage priority advances partnerships that help meet the needs of our neighbors in Detroit and beyond. Over the past year, donors have supported community-based research and outreach programs that improve lives and create lasting change.

This is Engage, and it is developing community-minded students while positioning Detroit as a model for urban centers around the world.

  • Watch Engage
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  • Family tradition

    Family tradition

    Giving back is a natural impulse for Debra Partrich. “My parents inspired this whole thing,” she said. “I’m following their example.”

    Both of her parents attended Wayne State University and were the first in their families to earn a college degree. Partrich’s mother, Olga Dworkin, was a dedicated Wayne State volunteer who helped found the group Women at Wayne in the 1950s.

    When Partrich began volunteering at Wayne State’s Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute (MPSI), it was in part a way to honor her parents. “This was a chance for me to give back,” she said. “It was something I could do for them.” Partrich now chairs MPSI’s Board of Visitors and co-chairs its Pivotal Moments campaign committee.

    Community engagement is a key part of MPSI’s mission. In 1922, the institute opened one of the nation’s first preschools. Today the Early Childhood Center (ECC) offers excellent, evidenced-based preschool education to the children of Wayne State students, faculty, staff and local families.

    “I think it’s the hidden gem of Wayne State,” said Partrich.

    When the ECC was short on funding this year to take the children on their annual farm field trip, Partrich helped raised the money to make it happen. She also purchases books for the children to receive each year at graduation.

    By supporting MPSI and other areas of Wayne State, Partrich hopes to spread the benefits of education. “You give back so that somebody else can do what you did,” she said, “and to make life better for them and their children.”

  • The greatness of summer school

    The greatness of summer school

    This year’s students in the Lear Automotive Youth Academy (LAYA) were open-minded, inquisitive, realistic, dedicated—and a little bit silly, according to instructor and Mike Ilitch School of Business faculty member Tamme Quinn Grzebyk ’15 Ph.D.

    Each summer LAYA accepts 10 high school students entering their senior year, based on the recommendations of local mentorship programs. The program’s goal is to provide early professional opportunities for students who might not otherwise get them, even though they are talented and dedicated.

    Created more than 10 years ago by Lear Corporation, LAYA is now a close collaboration between Lear and Wayne State University. While Wayne State hosts the program and provides an instructor, Lear covers all program costs with an annual gift.

    Lear also invites the students to its headquarters one day each week to teach them about professional life. “It is very rewarding to watch each student develop from orientation through the final presentation,” said Valencia Morris, Lear’s director of corporate relations and program coordinator for LAYA.

    This year’s LAYA curriculum focused on college and career preparation, with students learning about everything from time management to compound interest. Aspiring accountant David Young from Cass Technical High School said the program was inspiring, but practical too: “Two of the best things I learned were dining and business etiquette.”

    For Samara Richards of Henry Ford Academy School for Creative Studies, the takeaway from LAYA was itself inspiring: “I learned more about myself in this program than anywhere else.”

  • Urban environment

    Urban environment

    Protecting our environment is truly a community effort. So while Wayne State conducts important research on environmental issues, the university also engages with a wide range of community partners to share and apply new knowledge.

    The Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation is one of these partners. They recently awarded a $400,000 grant to Wayne State, which is supporting Detroit Revitalization Fellows as they work to create green alleys in the city’s West Village neighborhood. Green alleys include innovative solutions to urban environmental problems, such as permeable pavement to manage storm water runoff.

    The College of Engineering’s Healthy Urban Waters (HUW) initiative also made a splash this year thanks to a generous 2015 grant from the Erb Foundation. In the aftermath of the Flint water crisis, HUW faculty have become the state’s leaders in drinking water research. To help inform the public on this timely issue, the HUW program organized Water at Wayne, a seminar series where water researchers could share their insights in an engaging and interactive format.

    The HUW program also trains the next generation of water engineers through field experiences at sites like Belle Isle and the Lake St. Clair Metropark. “Detroit is definitely a superb place to be positioned right now if you have a passion for water,” said Carol Miller, professor of civil and environmental engineering, and the leader of the Healthy Urban Waters program.

    Miller definitely has that passion, and so do her students. “They are aware of the social and political issues related to water,” said Miller. “They want to make a difference.”

  • Open access to digital knowledge

    Open access to digital knowledge

    Wayne State University Press is digitizing 59 out-of-print titles through a $94,000 grant from a joint project between the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The titles focus on Jewish and regional studies, and will be freely accessible to the public through the websites of the Wayne State University Library System and the Press.

    “Adding these important titles back into the public sphere allows them to be discovered for the first time by new audiences,” said Jane Ferreyra ’05 M.A., director of Wayne State University Press. “Having this rich information available and accessible in a digital format helps us increase awareness and distribution of knowledge of key issues in the region’s history and beyond.”

    Most scholarly books printed since 1923 are not in the public domain, so many people do not have access to their knowledge. Modern e-book technology can unlock the potential of these books.

    “These books represent an untapped resource for scholars, teachers, students and members of the public, many of whom turn to the Internet as their first stop when looking for information,” said Earl Lewis, president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

    The books to be digitized cover many topics, including Detroit history, industry and labor, maritime history and Jewish culture. All titles are expected to be available online by December 2017.

  • Growing sustainable communities

    Growing sustainable communities

    When students in the Irvin D. Reid Honors College wanted to partner with urban communities to create sustainable community gardens, a grant from Ford Motor Company Fund helped make it possible.

    Ford awarded the students $25,000 to construct garden pavilions at four sites in Flint and Detroit through the Ford College Community Challenge (C3). The Wayne State group was one of only seven winners in the competitive nationwide challenge, which recognizes colleges and universities for using school resources and student participation to address an urgent community need under the theme Building Sustainable Communities.

    The garden pavilions will include solar panels and rain catchment systems to supply the power and water needed to transform vacant lots into thriving community gardens.

    “It will be awesome to see these pavilions installed and helping the community,” said Emily Smith, a senior in the Honors College who is helping to lead the project. “It’s amazing that Ford could see the potential in the project. Without their investment, it might not have happened.”

    Architecture students from the University of Detroit Mercy are designing the pavilions. Meanwhile, Wayne State honors students will carry out the planning process, conduct outreach to community groups and select sites for the gardens through a service learning course during the winter semester. Students from both universities will partner to build the structures in spring 2017, just in time for planting.

    Now in its ninth year, Ford’s C3 program has provided $3.2 million in grants to universities around the world. In addition to the U.S., the program is active in the U.K., Brazil and China, as well as countries in Africa including Ghana, Kenya, Morocco and South Africa.

A year by the numbers

Thank you!