UDM My Stories RSS Feed
Architecture grad named one of Crain's Detroit Business' 40 Under 40 for 2016.
Monday, October 10, 2016

KlimaZachary Klima '12 was named one of Crain's Detroit Business'  40 Under 40 for 2016. He developed an app that lets fans at entertainment venues know how long the lines are at restrooms and concession stands. Click here to read how he came up with the concept and who is already using it.


Advanced Group Names Julie Bell, '03 as Chief Human Resources Officer
Monday, October 03, 2016

posted in Financial Buzz

Julie Bell '03The Advanced Group, an industry-leading diversified professional staffing, consulting, and outsourcing organization, announced the recent appointment of Julie Bell, '03 as Chief Human Resources Officer.  Bell earned her  masters in Industrial Organization Psychology from University of Detroit Mercy. Read the story.


What is Dr. Leo E. Hanifin doing now?
Monday, September 12, 2016

Leo HanifinDr. Leo E. Hanifin, Dean Emeritus from College of Engineering and Science, is currently chairman for the Livingston County Transportation Coalition, a grassroots, 30-plus-member team that supports bringing an improved public transportation system to Livingston County. 

Members envision public buses picking up and dropping off passengers along Grand River Avenue, M-36, M-59 and other vital roads. They would also like commuter trains and buses to connect Brighton and Howell to other major cities, and bike lanes adjacent to major streets in the two cities.

Recently, Brighton City Council members unanimously passed a resolution supporting the coalition's vision for the county, including the creation of a Livingston County Transit Authority.  Read More on this. 

Canadian Native pursues dual J.D. degree at Detroit Mercy
Friday, September 09, 2016

By Sheila Pursglove - Detroit Legal News, August 30, 2016

joint lawAthena Portokalidis enjoys studying the law from the perspectives of two differing legal traditions simultaneously in the Canadian & American Dual J.D. Program at Detroit Mercy Law and the University of Windsor Faculty of Law.

“I feel it gives me a unique approach to tackling legal issues as I’ve learned to approach legal analysis from two different standpoints,” she says. “International law is becoming vastly important with ever-growing relations between Canada and the United States, which makes having training in both jurisdictions invaluable.”

Read the article

Detroit Mercy President working to help uplift Detroit
Tuesday, September 06, 2016

University of Detroit Mercy President Antoine M. Garibaldi, Ph.D.'s work with the Detroit community are featured in the latest alumni magazine from The University of Minnesota.


In the article in the fall edition of Minnesota Alumni, Garibaldi, who earned his Ph.D. from the school, Garibaldi discusses Detroit Mercy's commitment to the city of Detroit and to revitalizing neighborhoods that surround the McNichols campus.


"We have a responsibility to work closely with the local community, and everyone—students, faculty, staff, alumni—is involved in the revitalization efforts," he told the writer.


Check out the story here and, if you want to know more about some of this work, look for the fall edition of Spiritus, coming to your mailbox later this month.


Delta Dental helps Detroit Mercy Dental establish mobile clinic
Monday, September 05, 2016

Delta DentalDelta Dental Foundation has made a $56,000 grant for University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry to establish a four-chair portable dental clinic within the ACCESS facility in Dearborn.

ACCESS, an acronym for Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services, is the largest Arab-American human services nonprofit in the United States. The group’s eight locations and more than 100 programs that serve metro Detroit offer a wide range of social, economic, health and educational services to a diverse population.

School of Dentistry students and faculty will be able to perform dental exams, cleanings, X-rays, sealants, restorative care, extractions and emergency services at the ACCESS clinic.

Delta Dental is a longtime partner with Detroit Mercy Dental, most recently donating $490,000 for the purchase of a mobile dental coach, which travels Wayne County providing dental care to students in underserved communities.

$1 million gift from alumnus helps University of Detroit Mercy create innovative engineering center for students
Friday, September 02, 2016

William KozyraUniversity of Detroit Mercy’s new Center for Automotive Systems Engineering Education (CASEE) has received a major boost with a $1 million gift from William L. Kozyra '80 in July.

“There is no doubt in my mind that today I have a fabulous career and life as a result of the great education I received at University of Detroit Mercy,” Kozyra said. “I’m lucky enough to be in a position where I can thank the school and help the school provide to other young adults the educational opportunities and the life opportunities I received.”

Kozyra is the chairman, chief executive officer and president of Auburn Hills-based TI Automotive, an automotive supplier with more than 125 locations in 28 countries.

This gift is an important and significant investment in the future of the University and the type of education Kozyra believes the University will provide for tomorrow’s engineers, said Dean of the College of Engineering & Science Gary Kuleck. Read the News Release here.


Student pursues U.S./Canadian law degree
Tuesday, August 30, 2016

BY SHEILA PURSGLOVE Legal News  - August 16, 2016

VITHIANANTHANAruna Vithiananthan’s grandfather was a well-known criminal defense lawyer in Sri Lanka, who continued to practice law as a Canadian citizen. Vithiananthan, a Canadian native born and raised in Toronto, heard stories of his cases from a young age.

“Law was his passion but he always told me, ‘law is a jealous mistress,’” she says. “I never had an unrealistic view of the legal profession – I knew the work and dedication it took to be in this field. He was compassionate, intelligent, and had a sense of duty.

After losing my grandfather over five years ago, being in legal profession makes me feel connected to him.”

A student in the Canadian & American Dual J.D. program offered by the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law and the University of Windsor Faculty of Law, Vithiananthan is enjoying the challenge of completing two law degrees simultaneously. “The program forces you to multi-task and to learn comparatively,” she says.

“These are skills dual students will be able to carry forward into the workplace where our peers have completed one law degree in the same time period it took us to complete two.” Vithiananthan appreciates the ability to learn in two different teaching environments, with double the opportunities and resources. “This is a unique program...." Download the article for more.

Ford Global Challenge gives University of Detroit Mercy $200,000 to develop mobility app for volunteers
Friday, August 26, 2016

Thanks to a $200,000 grant from the Bill Ford Better World Challenge, University of Detroit Mercy engineering professors, students and alumni will team up to develop an app that connects non-profit organizations with volunteers who can move resources and materials.

The new Bill Ford Better World Challenge grant is an innovative global program in which Ford employees work through the Ford Volunteer Corps on transformational community projects. The idea for the non-profit mobility app came from Ford employees Robert Collard, Cecil St. Pierre and Ashley Levi, who envisioned a way Ford workers and others could assist non-profits by using the hauling power of their vehicles. See Detroit Mercy news release for more information.

Mark Wisniewski '90 Receives Time and Talent Award
Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Mark WisniewskiDetroit Mercy Law Alumni Association will present the 2016 Time and Talent Award to Mark A. Wisniewski '90, on September 30, 2016  at a special dinner following the School’s Homecoming Golf Outing at The Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth, MI. The Time and Talent Award is the School of Law’s most prestigious award to honor those who have given their time and talent to the School through their distinguished leadership and longstanding service

Mark Wisniewski has been a constant champion and distinguished ambassador for Detroit Mercy Law for more than 25 years. He has served on the Board of Directors of its Alumni Association for ten years, including two terms as President (2013 – 2015). He has taught Trial Practice as an adjunct professor, served on countless committees, attended all alumni events, and accepted every request for assistance, all while maintaining a thriving litigation practice at Kitch Drutchas Wagner Valitutti & Sherbrook, P.C.

Mark Wisniewski has been an attorney with the Kitch law firm since he graduated from Detroit Mercy Law in 1990 and has served as its Chairman and CEO since 2014. It is one of the largest law firms in southeastern Michigan and is headquartered in the heart of Detroit. In addition to his management responsibilities, he also leads the firm’s asbestos liability and mass tort defense practice groups.

During his time as a law student, Wisniewski was Associate Editor of the Law Review and served on the Student Bar Association Executive Board. He earned an A.B. in Political Science and American History from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor. He is a graduate of De La Salle Collegiate, an all-boys Catholic high school located in Warren, Mich., and was honored as its alumnus of the year in 2013.

First Dolores Penn-Davis Scholar at Detroit Mercy
Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Terrell Nichols Terrell Nichols is the first recipient of the Dolores Davis-Penn Scholarship providing full tuition and room and board at University of Detroit Mercy for graduates of Detroit’s Jalen Rose Leadership Academy.

The scholarship was established this year with a $250,000 gift from University of Detroit Mercy alumnus and Jalen Rose Leadership Academy co-founder Michael Carter.

Nichols, who lives in Detroit, said University of Detroit Mercy, which she calls “a little oasis in the city,” was among her top choices for college. Nichols hopes to be a teacher and counselors at JRLA told her the University had a strong education program and encouraged her to apply for the scholarship.

Jalen Rose Leadership Academy College Success Counselor LeDetra Lindsey said she has seen much growth in Terrell over the years and sees great potential.

“She did not have a traditional family upbringing,” Lindsey said. “And for her to overcome what she has overcome and to be able to make it into school every day, even though she may not have been at the same home every night, is remarkable.”

Nichols was chosen for her school involvement; she was captain of the cheer team and worked as a mentor for other students, Lindsey said. “UDM will notice her because she will definitely be active on campus.”

Nichols is the first student to receive the new scholarship set up by Detroit Mercy alumnus Michael Carter ’72, ’78.  Click here for more about Michael Carter.

Law alumna breaking new ground in auto industry
Thursday, May 12, 2016

a1As autonomous vehicles move closer to development and use, law firms are looking ahead to the legal issues that will likely arise. With a bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering and a law degree, Butzel Long attorney Jennifer Dukarski is uniquely positioned to be part of a team dedicated to this emerging technology. Read about it in this article by Crain's Detroit Business.

Alumni make a difference to Architecture building
Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Steven and Beth Pagnotta

University of Detroit Mercy alumni Steven ’74, ’76 and Beth Jevitz Pagnotta ’74 have long been supporters of the School of Architecture and have made another recent donation that will have long-lasting effects on the School and its students.

This donation will be used to complete renovations to the School’s facilities on the McNichols Campus. Through the gift, the building will be outfitted with state-of-the-art technology while creating a functional space for educating students.

“(Stephen Vogel), the former dean of the School, was my fourth-year design professor,” said Steven Pagnotta, who also serves on the School of Architecture’s Board of Advisors. “He had a vision to renovate the building so the students would have a great experience there. We were part of the renovation of the studio space and it felt natural to be involved in the renovation of the lower level as well.”

According to School of Architecture Dean Will Wittig, this project is the culmination of a 20-year project to revamp the interior of the building.

“This renovation project is a follow-up to a previous project we did on the second floor to improve the working conditions in the studio spaces. We want to do the same thing to the studio areas in the basement, allowing for more natural light, shared space for collaboration and small-group meetings and improvements to our workshop and lab areas,” Wittig said. 

The plans also include upgrading technology, which, according to Wittig, currently limits the staff and the innovative and progressive concepts they would like to incorporate more in the curriculum.

“We want to give our students the workshop facilities to be able to explore ideas and concepts that are not really possible with our current environment,” said Wittig.  “Through this phase of the improvements, we will install cutting-edge digital equipment and provide our students the space to work with materials and understand construction in a different way than they can now.”

Steven Pagnotta founded Bradford Real Estate Companies and develops properties primarily in the Chicago area, but also in Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana. His wife, Beth, had a long and successful career in finance. They both feel strongly about supporting University of Detroit Mercy.

“The University had an impact on our lives and we now feel we can give back to others and help provide state-of-the-art educational resources to students. We hope they will be successful as a result of their education at the University and give back as well,” Steven Pagnotta said.

Priceless friendships
Sunday, April 24, 2016

"The time I spent at U of D was amazing and the friends I made were priceless, although we have lost touch. I hope this post will allow us to reconnect. My favorite professors were Dr. Cindy Langham and Michael McCoin. I can remember participating and competing against friends in the annual speech competition. If I remember correctly, the last time I competed it was against Lori Irla and Lauri McKinnon. Lori won first place and Lauri won second. I received a certificate of participation. It wasn't the winning that mattered but being there with some truly great friends. As I write this I keep remembering other things, like working part time in the financial aid office, and just hanging out in the student center. These were definitely good times."

—Felecia Seldon '91 College of Liberal Arts & Education

Baking bread was a learning experience
Friday, April 22, 2016

"I had tremendous learning experience at UDM, all through my three graduate degree programs, 1992-94 M.E. Electrical Engineering, 1994-96 MBA, and 1996-1997 MA Economics.

I have many cherished memories from the times that I spent with learned professors under their astute guidance. But the most poignant one is that of my time working as a cook at the UDM Jesuit Residence — Lansing-Reilly Hall, during fall 1992. As an international student, this was my very first Job in the United States, earning a full $4.35/hr. I used to start my work at 5 a.m. and cook bread for the Jesuit priests. And had great privilege to serve them all different kinds of breads, as part of their morning breakfast. It was labor of love and gift to be in their service.

To this day, I cherish the values and virtues of humility, simplicity and transparency that I witnessed there."

Himanshu Gandhi '94, '96, '97 College of Engineering & Science, College of Business Administration


Bar award named in honor of Judge John G. Cummings '63
Thursday, April 21, 2016

District Judge John G. Cummings '63 has a place of honor with the St. Clair County Bar Association, which  named its top prize for the high school mock trial program in his honor.

Several years ago the bar association, concerned that some teams placed too high a value on winning, decided to highlight the importance of professionalism during the annual mock trial event. They wanted to downplay the antagonism between teams and reward students who thought about how others demonstrated professionalism and respect for the law and each other.

The bar developed a rubric which is given to each team after each round, and requires student participants to rate how their opposition fared on several areas, including appearance, proficiency addressing the jury/judge, compliance with rules, attitude, and persuasive abilities.

The St. Clair County Bar Association Board of Directors determined that the award should be named for a member of its group, current or past, who demonstrated professionalism at all times.  The unanimous choice was District Court Judge John G. Cummings. The award and trophy named in honor of John Cummings’ 50-plus years of professionally and respectfully serving litigants through his private practice, and including more than 20 years on the bench as a District Court judge.

Grateful for a wonderful career
Wednesday, April 20, 2016

"When I began my University experience in 1961 (at the upper age of 26), the foundation of my chosen career also began. As I progressed, the University environment nurtured my development and helped to bring about the profession that I aspired to. Finally, in 1967, I became a Bachelor of Architecture, my diploma signed by my favorite Dean Bruno Leon, our great mentor.

As my profession unfolded, I felt the faculty inspiration and influence that I acquired during the years in the School Of Architecture and the University itself. I am extremely satisfied with the impact that the U of D had on my life. For almost 50 years I have thoroughly enjoyed my profession that grew out of my education. I hope that the University Of Detroit Mercy continues to do well as it has done for this grateful alumnus,

Our class of 1967 remained in close communication over the past 49 years. One of the highlights of our class was the 40th reunion that occured on May 19, 2007 in the School of Architecture Building. The photo shows the classmates who attended."

—August Caringi, '67, School of Architecture


This photo is of our 40th reunion in 2007 and was taken in the Warren Loranger Building on the McNichols Campus. The location of this photo was at the UDM School of Architecture building when the 40th reunion took place. Our guest of honor was Professor John Loss. Top row from left, Fran Scott AIA, Jim Meloche, Vince Lyons, Paul Mirski, Joe Vargo, Tom Paczkowski and Tony Mielke. Front row from left are Prof. John Loss, Robert Makara, Brian Miller, Anthony Buchinger, Tom Anglewicz FAIA, Frank Dolasinski and August Caringi AIA.

Jesuit education proved to be a moral compass
Monday, April 18, 2016

Jesuit philosophy has always been my moral compass. It guided my professional life as a teacher and later as a college administrator. U of D was always thoughtful toward students -- an excellent model to follow during my career. Besides the regular academic curriculum, my peers and I were encouraged to be involved in university life. We worked on the yearbook and the great fund raising project , the Carnival. Friendships developed during those years ('49-'53) continue to be part of our lives today. I would hope that today's students benefit from University of Detroit Mercy as much as we did.

—Edward Nussel '53, College of Liberal Arts & Education

Appreciated beyond words
Saturday, April 16, 2016

"U of D Faculty provided the entire Jacobs family (two of my sons—Paul J. and Peter—graduated in the 1990s with D.D.S. degrees, too) with the finest enjoyable education that we appreciate beyond words. Dean Rene Rochon enabled me to try out in Olympic Tryouts while in Dental School. He was very supportive of athletes and was a personal friend of all students. I became a Nordic ski jumping judge and worked for the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics and throughout Europe. I was also a ski jumping coach for many years. I was inducted in the Ski Jumping Hall of Fame in Red Wing, MN, in 2014."

Paul A. Jacobs, D.D.S. '58, '70—School of Dentistry


Paul J. Jacobs, D.D.S., ski jumper.


A close-knit community helps you professionally
Thursday, April 14, 2016

"I grew up around the University of Detroit, since our dad (Dr. Chuck Dause) was a professor, department chair then Assoc. Dean of Liberal Arts. We went to many of the home baseketball games as kids watching future NBA players, coaches and commentators. Even though we lived only 25 minutes away, I chose to live on campus for my entire undergraduate time of U of D and loved it! The connection with my teacher/advisor, Cynthia Langham, was invaluable to my success as a student and opened multiple doors during and after graduation for experience and contacts in my field. She and I are still in contact today! She may not know the value and importance of networking with colleagues I come in contact with that she taught me; it has stayed with me into my professional career. Lifelong friendships were made on and around campus along with many life lessons learned while at U of D. 

There is a huge advantage to alumni of such a close-knit school and community to stay in contact with one another and reach out to connect professionally."

—Kathleen (Dause) Novetsky '90 College of Liberal Arts & Education

Opportunities like no other place
Tuesday, April 12, 2016


"Let's start with my father, William J. Giovan, Sr., a dentist. He told me once that he had made a generous contribution toward the constructi

on of the Alumni Memorial Building, now known as Callahan Hall, because he never would have become a dentist, but for the University of Detroit Dental School, which was established just in time for him to be able to attend. He was a member of its first graduating class in 1935.

When I myself started as an undergraduate in 1954, similarly, it was the only affordable Catholic University I could attend. Besides giving me a quality education, U of D gave me the opportunity to participate in several extracurricular activities, and I spent all four years as a member of the fencing team, the U of D Players, and the debate team. I'm sure that all those facilities wouldn't have been available to me at a smaller school, and I expect that the competition would have been a hindrance in a larger one.

I went on to a more or less successful career in the law. I doubt that all of this would have been possible had I gone to school elsewhere."

—The Hon. William Giovan, Jr. '58, College of Liberal Arts & Education

In the photo are, from left, Patrick McDonald, William J. Giovan, Jr. and Joseph Szymanski of the 1958 University of Detroit NCAA Fencing Squad.

Tell us your Detroit Mercy Story!
Wednesday, March 23, 2016

StasysKathleen (Nacy) Stasys '69 was one of many alumni who visited the Detroit Mercy videobooth at Homecoming to talk about what the University means to them. Click here to see what she had to say. Her name was drawn at random from those who participated to win a basket of Detroit Mercy swag. But everyone wins when we share stories about the University. We know you have a story and would love to hear it. You can fill out an online form here.

We will compile your stories and use them on our website and in other communications to help spread the news about the great things at University of Detroit Mercy.



Alumnus gives back to repay those who helped him
Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Michael A. Carter ’72, ’78 didn’t stand a chance.

Michael A Carter

He was one of seven children born to a father with a sixth-grade education and a mother who ended her education with high school. His father was a janitor and his mother didn’t work outside the home, so money was always tight. The family lived in rented homes and housing projects.

The daunting prospect of paying tuition bills was just one hurdle keeping him from dreaming about college. The other? He did not do very well in high school.

“I lost a sister to leukemia at 15 and I was in a haze for two years,” he said. “When I came out of that haze my senior year I had a lot of catching up to do. I remember my guidance counselor my senior year said to me, ‘I see three options for you: Ford, GM or Chrysler.’” But Carter’s goals didn’t include working on the assembly line.

That’s when the first of several of what he calls guardian angels appeared. His uncle and aunt, who were childless, took in the young Carter.

“Growing up I only wanted two things,” Carter said. “I dreamed of my own bedroom—I had slept on couches my whole life, and I hoped that one day I’d have my own bedroom. I also wanted my own stereo system.” When he moved in with his aunt and uncle at age 16, both of those dreams came true. But his aunt and uncle helped him dream bigger.

“My uncle was in education and he pushed me to think about college,” Carter said. “He got me to take the SAT and the ACT and, by the grace of God, he got me into UDM.”

That was in 1968, and Carter was in the first class of Project 100, a program designed to admit and support inner-city public and parochial high school graduates with high academic potential to the University.

This is where he met another guardian angel.

Dolores A. Davis-Penn was a counselor for Project 100 and took her job very seriously.

“She knew I had my classes and work and that I would get home around 10 o’clock every night,” he said. “And every night at 10:30, she’d call and I’d pick it up and she’d say ‘How was your day?’”

So every night for 15 minutes, the two would talk about his classes, his work, anything he wanted to say. She told him to keep his eye on his goal of a degree, and that she was there to help him. She had no idea how much these phone calls meant to him.

“I was one of four counselors for the 100 students in that first class,” said Davis-Penn. “We all helped recruit and I felt it was a mission of the heart. I was determined to see as many of those students as possible succeed.”

“I was not academically prepared for college,” Carter said. “But I got laser-like in wanting to make sure I got my studies done. I ate, slept and lived in the library. And every night she called to make sure I was OK.”

“There were a few students I had a special rapport with, and Michael was one of them,” Davis-Penn said. “The beautiful thing is that I could watch them grow right before my eyes. I could see the results of my work day by day.”

As he worked toward his political science degree, he also held down a series of jobs and saved up some money and became a guardian angel of sorts to his parents: As a sophomore, he had saved up enough money to help his parents purchase their first home.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in political science, he worked as a teacher, swimming coach and purchasing agent. He returned to UDM to earn his MBA, founded a janitorial company, and later worked as a sales rep and in the healthcare industry. In 2002, he founded Athena Health Club and Day Spa in Nashville, Tenn., and became managing partner at Pinnacle Construction Partners, LLC, a Tennessee-based construction firm that does business in several states.

Carter and his wife, Pamela L. Carter ’71, who he met at UDM, have dedicated themselves to carrying the torch lit by his guardian angels. They have created a charitable foundation and fund scholarships at UDM, the University of Michigan, where their children earned their degrees, and in Tennessee where they live. They also support other students privately.

“Our priority has always been education,” he said. “And all kids need that helping hand.”

Carter kept in touch with Davis-Penn for years but, as time passed, the two lost touch. Davis later earned a doctorate in education with a specialty in gerontology and ran the National Center on Black Aged in Washington, D.C.

Carter and his wife recently donated $250,000 to create a scholarship for students who graduate from Detroit’s Jalen Rose Leadership Academy, which Carter helped found.

It’s called the Dr. Dolores A. Davis-Penn Scholarship.

“When I got the call, that a scholarship was being named after me, I was stunned,” Davis-Penn, who lives in Florida now, said. “I am so honored and so humbled.”

“What’s most significant to me is that what Dr. Davis-Penn did in terms of support speaks to her sincerity and integrity,” Carter said. “When someone goes above and beyond the way she did—and she didn’t have to do that—it tells something about that person.”

Davis-Penn said the work she did with Project 100, was something special. “Of all my positions I’ve had in my career, the work I did with Project 100 was the most rewarding of my entire life,” she said.

In April, at the Spirit of UDM: Alumni Achievement Awards ceremony, Carter will be honored for his distinguished career in business and philanthropy. Davis-Penn will be there to share his honor.