From UD High School Student to UD College Student to UD President-THREE Times!

The initial founding of the University of Detroit in 1877 included a collegiate and an academic or what we would consider today “high school” division. This system continued until 1928, when the UD high school was academically separated from the collegiate division. It was not until 1947 that the administration and financial connections between the high school and college were separated into two distinct institutions.hs1929

In another one of my ebay purchases, I picked up a 1929 University of Detroit High School class picture. There was one name that had a familiar ring-Laurence V. Britt. Turns out, he became President at the University of Detroit from 1960-1966. A research check through Fr. Muller’s book to find that he was not the first UD High School student to come into the position of college president at the University of Detroit. As his two previous predecessors of UD High School to university president, he also attended UD as a college student (Class of 1933).


The first alumnus president was William J. Millor, S.J., graduated from the high school in 1918 and college in 1923. He served as the president of the university from 1944-1949.


The next UD President to come from the high school was Rev. Celestine J. Steiner, S.J. The high school register show he graduated in 1917 and then attended UD where he played on the UD college football team for two years 1917-1918. He served as president of the university from 1949-1960.


Just as a side note, Mercy College of Detroit also had an alumnus serve as president of the college, Sr. Agnes Mary Mansour graduated in 1953 and served as president of Mercy College from 1971-1982.

I tried to google to see how many other colleges had alumni serve as president of their college. Maybe someday someone with a lot of time on their hands can create that kind of list. What I did find is an article about Dartmouth College which has to be tops in the category, they have had TEN alumni serve as president of their college!

So while the university can put on their alumni list lawyers, politicians, engineers, business men and women, etc., they can also list university presidents as leaders of the community produced through education at the University of Detroit Mercy.

Pat Higo, Archives and Special Collections Librarian



7/11 Are you feeling lucky? Las Vegas Night as U of D


St. Francis Club at the University of Detroit sponsored a Las Vegas Night back in February, 1975. For a $5 admission fee, you would get $500,000 worth of play money gambling chips, all the beer and wine you could drink (!), dancing, gambling and a chance at 50 door prizes given away throughout the evening. The door prizes included dinners, merchandise, clothing, books and many other items donated by local businesses. The profits from the evening would be used to repair the St. Francis Club facilities.

The available games included Black Jack, roulette, craps, and fortune wheels. The tables were open from 7 pm to midnight.cegas

At midnight there was a special auction for items that could be “purchased” with the paper money that the gamblers had accrued during the evening’s events. The items that were auctioned included a dinner and evening for four with Fr. Malcolm Carron S.J. U of D President at one of Detroit’s finer restaurants , one month passes to a local health spa, a case of wine, a gothic kneeler complete with red velvet pads donated by the Office of Campus Ministry and $10 of merchandise from Wrigley Foods (all those old time Detroiters raise your hands if you remember Wrigley foods!).

According to the Varsity News, the evening was a big success. About a thousand people attended the event. About half were students at UD, students from other schools made up the rest. Invitations had been sent out to other local colleges and the St. Francis Club provided free bus service to UD for students attending Mercy, Madonna, and Marygrove Colleges and Grace, Mercy and Henry Ford Schools of Nursing. Technical problems with the transportation left only three of the seven buses available. There is no report as to who got left out.

Between 11 pm and midnight, two million in additional chips could be purchased for only one dollar. Promptly at midnight the crowd moved to the student lounge for the auction. Only the chips received at the door, won gambling or purchased throughout the evening could be used in the auction. Several items in the auction went for over one billion casino dollars; the evening with Fr. Carron went for a bid of two billion. A total of $12 billion in chips was collected at the auction.

The first Las Vegas Night was such a success, a second one was held in October 1975. Alas, only about half the number of people attended and that was apparently the end of casino type gambling on the U of D campus. I guess you could say their “luck” ran out.


Pat Higo, Archives and Special Collections Librarian




A day in the life of some puppies-1951 UD mascot Titania


Before the current Tommy Titan mascot, the University of Detroit had a St. Bernard named Titania as a mascot. There was a photo shoot using her puppies that I thought I would share with everyone. I provided some captions, but feel free to make your own.

If you don't mind-I'll take the photos.

If you don’t mind-I’ll take the photos.

What did you tell them?

What did you do to them?

Umm, guys the camera is over here.

Umm, guys the camera is over here.

Lunch break!

Lunch break!

Maybe a short nap will be ok.

Maybe a short nap will be ok.

It looks like a regular camera. Are you sure the government isn't watching us?

It looks like a regular camera. Are you sure the government isn’t watching us?

They are going to have to clean these out before they wear them!

They are going to have to clean these out before they wear them!

Pooped pup

Pooped pup


Pat Higo, Archives and Special Collections Librarian








The things you find when you need to move

LR1In preparing to move all my stuff on and around my desk (they are redoing the entire floor in the room I am located in), checking my files, I stopped to browse through some University of Detroit Board of Trustee minutes from 1912 to June 1930. Most of the stuff is pretty boring: filling positions of board members that have left, passing on the list of graduates, various financial dealings, and discussions of new programs. There was one session that I found to be interesting, and a bit of a mystery as to why things did not end the way it was described in the documentation-just keep reading and you will see what I mean.

On November 28, 1914, the board formally accepted a gift of property from Mrs. C. J. Reilly. She would be allowed to remain on the property during her life and if her sister, Marie L. Lansing, outlived her, she too would be allowed to remain in the home until her death.




LR2Inserted in this page is the more formal letter of the disposal of the property to the University of Detroit. There is no date on that page. LR3 Lansing was the first name of the son and the last name of the sister who must not have been married. The land for the McNichols campus was not purchased until 1921. The funds for the building was received in 1922 as announced in the Varsity News, March 15, 1922. The building dedicated in honor of the two sisters was dedicated in 1926, but the building is named “Lansing-Reilly” not “Reilly-Lansing” as written in the document. Even Fr. Muller notes in his book on the history of UD that the the wording more properly is “Reilly-Lansing Memorial”. There does not seem to be any explanation as to why the order of the names changed. Was it for aesthetics, alphabetical or political? I don’t know if there is anyone around who would know the background of the naming of the the building.

Pat Higo, Archives ans Special Collections Librarain


Moonshadow, Black Studies Dept. Creative Writers Group, University of Detroit

moon1The University  of Detroit produced a number of student publications outside of the student newspapers such as the Tamarack and Varsity News. Some of the more creative writings have been published in SIC and Dichotomy, which you can see on our Special Collections page, but there were others such as Moonshadow.

Moonshadow was open to contributions from any and all writers. Poetry, short stories and essays could be submitted to the University of Detroit, Black Studies Department. In this particular 1978 issue there are contributions from David Rambeau, Allen Adkins, and Marice Greenia Jr. and two students, Lisa Caldwell (12 years old)and Desiree Junior (11 years old), from Brooks Middle School.

Maurice Greenia Jr. is currently a member of the UDMercy Library staff. Besides being a poet, he is also an artist and we have digitized some of his works of art on our Special Collections page.

This is the only issue we have of this publication. There were four previous issues and I have no idea how many more issues were published. If anyone has the other issues I would love to hear from you.




Pat Higo, Archives and Special Collections Librarian



Memorial Services at University of Detroit

The most prominent building on the McNichols campus of the University of Detroit Mercy is the Tower. Dedicated in 1927 during the University’s Golden Jubilee celebration, at the base is a marble tablet inscribed with the names of twelve former students who died in the service of their country in World War I. The heroes to whom the University paid tribute to: Lieutenant Thomas Gerald Kennedy, Private Russell William McBrearty, Lieutenant William J. Wilkinson, Sargeant Thomas Abbot Abrey, Cadet John R. Des Champs, Private James M. Williams, Seaman Roger S. MacNamara, Private Lionel Esslin, Private Edward Burns, Private Charles Harrison, Private Louis Mans, and Private Alfred Fuller.

Memorial Day Service May 29, 1951

A description on how these men gave their lives can be found in the October 12, 1927 issue of the Varsity News.

Having fun at the flash mob dance-a video to archive

flashmob2One of the concerns of archivists today is how to preserve access to the information with all the different formats that have been coming out. Technology changes so quick, how do we preserve the media and still be able to see it long after the machines that played it have died? This little video of a UDM flash mob dance is not in the archival collection in any form, yet it would be something that should be in the archives in some way. So far there is no standard procedure to have any of the university news, whether it be in print or other media, to be preserved in the university archives.

I have reel-to-reel tapes (audio and film), VHS and audio cassettes, vinyl records and floppy drives; who knows how long it will be before no one will be able to see or hear any of it because there is nothing to play the media. In fact I have thousands of these old keypunch cards used to create a database for the Callow Folklore Archive many, many years ago. Pretty sure there is no machine on this campus to read these now. Any one have some creative ideas on what to use them for now?



The ancient cultures got it right-they put their history in stone!

If you ever get a chance to take part in a flash mob-DO IT! I had a lot of fun participating in this flash mob dance.flashmob3

Pat Higo, Archives and Special Collections Librarian

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