Author Archives: Pat Higo

The President’s Cabinet-University of Detroit

The President’s Cabinet was established ” To encourage the active interest and participation of alumni and friends in the maintenance of excellence of higher education at the University” Each year the President’s Cabinet held an awards dinner in which a medallion was awarded, “To honor those individuals who, through creative leadership and extraordinary accomplishments, are contributing to the maintenance of the highest ideal of the American way of life.” Over the years individuals from education, business, government, religion, sports, science and the arts have been honored, as one speaker put it, ” for recognition (of) those individuals whose lives are striking examples of what can be accomplished with knowledge, commitment and God-given talents.” Among the first to be recognized by the President’s Cabinet: Max Fisher (businessman and philanthropist). Bob Considine (journalist), Edward Fisher (VP General Motors), Ernest Breech (Executive Ford Motor Company  and Trans World Airlines), George H. Love (Executive Consolidated Coal Company and Chrysler Corporation), and Whitney M. Young, Jr. (Executive Director, National Urban League).

1968 Max Fisher

Some of the other notable people that have received the award: Walter Reuther (UAW President), Ogden Nash (Poet), Sixten Ehrling (Conductor, Detroit Symphony Orchestra), R. Buckminster Fuller (Architect),Colonel James A. McDivitt (Astronaut), Gordie Howe (Professional Hockey Player), Joyce D. Brothers, Ph.D. (Psychologist, Television Personality, Author), George Romney (CEO American Motors and Governor of Michigan), Rev. Monsignor Clement H. Kern (Pastor, Most Holy Trinity Parish),  Gene Kelly (Actor), John J. Sirica (Chief Judge, U.S. District Court), Rosa Parks (Civil Rights),  Benny Goodman (Musician and Bandleader), William “Smokey” Robinson (Singer, Songwriter and Record Producer), Elmore “Dutch” Leonard (Author), Dave Bing (Professional Basketball Player and Business Executive) and Neal Shine (Journalist).

1975 President's Cabinet Recipients

1980 President's Cabinet Recipients

1981 President's Cabinet Recipients

1989 President's Cabinet Recipients

For a more complete listing of all honorees see the section on “University Honors” on the library’s Special Collections Page.

There was also an impressive list of guest speakers at the awards dinner which included: Ray Bolger (Actor), Art Linkletter (Radio and TV Personality), Dan Rather (Journalist and TV News Reporter), Pat O’Brien (Actor), Dennis Day (Singer, Radio, TV and Film Personality) and Hal Linden (Actor)

Mercy College of Detroit also had a similar award which will be posted on this blog at a later date.

Speech and Drama Department at Mercy College of Detroit

One of the courses offered at Mercy College through the Speech and Drama Department was a class on “Direction”. Each student was responsible for producing, directing and selecting a one-act play, casting the roles, setting up rehearsals, positioning and moving the characters on the stage. Albert Zolton and James Foote, associate professors of speech and drama, and David Pellman, instructor of speech and drama would act as supervisors as well as consultants to the student play directors.

One-acts were not the only project from the Speech and Drama Department.

Full Broadway musicals were also produced with members of the students and faculty playing key roles in a stage production. Some of the musicals produced included: Kiss Me Kate, My Fair Lady, Zorba the Greek, Anything Goes, Sound of Music, A Funny Thing Happened of the Way to the Forum and Showboat. For some of these plays a 20-piece orchestra comprising members of the Scandinavian Symphony Orchestra provided the music. Cast members were not just Mercy College students and faculty, they often included husbands, wives, brothers and sisters of Mercy College staff. Request for volunteer help in all areas such as costumes, scenic and stage crew, and ushers went out to all departments. What better way to see a free show!

Fisher Administrative Center

Programming for the Fisher Administrative Center  began in September 1963 and groundbreaking for the  building took place on December 17, 1964. Gunnar Birkerts and Associates of Birmingham were chosen as the architects. The 50,000 square feet structure was to consolidate the administrative offices that were scattered among several other buildings around the McNichols campus: Engineering, Commerce and Finance, Chemistry, Science (which is now the School of Architecture), Briggs, Library and Student Union Buildings. The official dedication took place on September 29, 1966, which was a few months later than originally planned, but weather and construction issues moved the completion date from February to September.

The Fisher was considered to be the visible port of entry for campus visitors since, at the time, 60 percent of the vehicles that enter the University grounds came from the south via the John C. Lodge Expressway. I am not so sure this is still true. At one meeting I heard that more people come on campus through the McNichols entrance, which would make sense since the University address is 4001 W. McNichols Road. Now with all the mapping systems people use through the internet, the Livernois entrance could get passed up.

According to the student newspaper,  Varsity News, the Fisher Administration Center “will harmonize compositionally with the existing campus buildings.”

Hmmmmm, I am no critic of architectural designs, but I don’t see how the building fits with the Spanish architectural theme of most of the original campus buildings. To me it looks more like a giant radiator!

What do I know-AIA gave it an award in 2003: “The award recognizes architectural design of enduring significance and is conferred on a project that has stood the test of time for at least twenty-five years.”

Someone once told me that the reason the Fisher building is black was because at the time, most of the the old buildings were so dirty that they thought it was the normal color and the new building would fit right in. Well, if you check the pictures of Lansing-Reilly getting cleaned in 1990, it is easy to see why they would chose black for the exterior of a new building.

Bishop Fulton Sheen

Bishop Fulton Sheen made at least two appearances in the Detroit area for Mercy College of Detroit and the University of Detroit. He was one of the speakers for the McAuley Auditorium Series on May 23, 1949. He was presented by Fr. John F. Finnegan of the philosophy department, friend and former classmate. He spoke on the Spiritual Crisis of Our Time and some signs of hope in the crisis.

Bishop Fulton Sheen and Mary Lucille Middleton, Mercy College President

On June 16, 1960, he was given an honorary degree by the University of Detroit at their 77th Annual Commencement. His honorary degree was given in recognition of his work in radio and television. Communication was the theme in his commencement address: “All communications begin with words, not action…The very essence of Christianity is: ‘the Word became flesh’…You are communicators of truth and love.”

1930 University of Detroit Dynamic Club Pin: A Mystery Organization

I get notices from our ebay account of items related to the University of Detroit Mercy. I went ahead and picked up this pin and thought I would research it later to see what this club was about. There is nothing about this club mentioned in the Varsity News or Tower Yearbooks during that period of time. I can find a lot of clubs – but no Dynamic Club. Attempts to find out its origin from the seller only adds to the mystery. The seller found it while digging a hole in a garden in Los Angeles California. How it got from Detroit to California is anybody’s guess. Here is a listing of the clubs I did find (minus all the fraternities, sororities and the various professional societies like engineering and architecture for students).

Glider Club (with Grasshopper Club for rookie glider pilots)

Flyers Club

Jesters Club

Toledo Club

Cleveland Club

Alpena Club

Motorcycle Club

Glee Club

Adspirers (Advertising Club)

Frosh Co-ed Club

Dramatic Club

Filipino/Philippino Club

Grand Rapids Club

Symposium (Philosophical Society Club)

Cooley Club (Law School)

Faculty Club

Saginaw Club

Cosmopolitan Club

Hamtramck Club

Wilkes-Barre Club

Spanish Club

Spanish-American Club

UD Golf Club

National Defense Club

Chess Club/Chess & Checkers Club

Camera Club

German Club

Aeronautical Club

Dinan Co-ed Club

Buffalo Club (N.Y.?)

Kadaver Klub

Mt. Clemens Club

Senior Girls Club

A subset of one of these clubs or with the High School or Alumni Association? Does anyone have any idea?

University of Detroit Football Team of 1946: Return of the Veterans

In the process of collecting  UD memorabilia from wherever-including ebay, I got this lighter commemorating the 30th anniversary of the 1946 football team. It was given “Compliments of Chuck & Ann Baer June 5, 1976″. Charles Baer was the Head Football Coach in 1946. A little background about this team would show why this team seemed to be extra special. According to the 1947 Tower yearbook, this was the first real post-war team. It was the first Titan team that contained a representative number of war veterans.

Both of team co-captains were regulars of the 1942 team before heading off to serve in the armed forces. Bob Ivory entered the Army Air Force in July 1943 where he served as physical training instructor. He was discharged in February 1946 with the rank of sergeant and played guard on the football team.  Bill Hintz had been chosen as captain of the 1943 football team, but before September came around, he enlisted in the Navy and UD had also suspended varsity football because of the decreased wartime enrollment. While in the Navy, Hintz spent time in the Pacific with an amphibious outfit. He was discharged in June with the rank of lieutenant and returned to the lineup as receiver.

The season ended with what I would consider a pretty respectable record of six wins and four losses.You can check out all the football programs and news from Varsity News, the student newspaper on the library portal Special Collections.

GO TITANS!

Summer Sessions at University of Detroit-Nuns on Campus

While many students may take the summer off from their studies, the campus is still buzzing with classes for the summer session. During the 1950′s there have been as many as 470 nuns representing twenty-five different orders attending daily classes, studying on campus benches and eating in the Student Union. They would come from all over the country as well as from Canada and even the Sisters of Notre Dame de Sion from Paris, France and Sisters of St. Dorthy from Rome, Italy.

Summer session 1956

The majority of the nuns were already teaching school but came to campus to take refresher courses or to further their education by taking classes in the Graduate College. Most were taking courses that would lead to master’s in education, but there were various other fields such as biology, engineering and business administration.

Nuns visiting Ford Rouge plant, June 1949,Summer session

In the summer of 1957 Holden Hall, traditionally male dormitory, thirty-five nuns from 11 different orders took over the building while attending summer classes. This was the first time women were admitted to the the dorm and they referred to themselves as the “Holden Hall Pioneers”.  In the summer of 1960 the newly open Shiple Hall housed 107 nuns for the six week summer session. This newest, biggest and tallest all male dorm must have had a few bugs to work out or it wanted to give the visiting sisters something to think about. A newspaper article in the file reported how one of the nuns one night heard the elevator whir as she was returning to her room down a dark corridor. “It stopped, the door opened, but no one came out. The door closed again. The sister went on resolutely when suddenly the door opened again. Still no one there. The startled sister set out to recruit a little company.” The article went on to say, “It still acts up”.

Town and Gown Celebrity Series: Louis Armstrong, Alvin Ailey, Arthur Fiedler and more!

In the 1960′s, the University of Detroit presented a series of performances from classical, popular and folk artists. “Town and Gown” at U of D was an innovation started by Rev. Herman S. Hughes, S.J. in 1964. Throughout the school year various artists were scheduled included such names as (in no particular order): Louis Armstrong,  Carlos Montoya, the original Broadway cast of the Spoon River Anthology, Dave Brubeck, Duke Ellington, Ed Ames, Erroll Garner, Roger Williams, Arthur Fiedler conducting the Tokyo-based Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra, Blood Sweat & Tears, John Davidson, Stan Kenton, Simon and Garfunkle, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Eddy Arnold, Al Hirt and His New Orleans Band, Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66 and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles.

I am not sure, but it looks like sometime around 1970 the “Town and Gown” series may have gone away, but popular artist continued to perform on campus. The Varsity News report on concerts by such notables as Chicago, Three Dog Night, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Dionne Warwick, and Elton John.

Odds and Ends in the Archives

There are various items that get donated or I pick up on ebay that relate in some way to Mercy College or University of Detroit. This is just a sample of some of the things. If you have any odd thing that happens to have the Mercy College of Detroit or U of D name on it, please consider sending it to the University of Detroit Mercy Archives. The only thing I do not need are U of D Tower Yearbooks. You can see those online on the library page. You can also find the Commencement programs and Varsity News as well.

Glass door knobs? Well, these are special because they came from Mercy College of Detroit Administration Building. The building got torn down after the Outer Drive campus was sold to Wayne County Community College. You don’t see many places with glass door knobs anymore.

Kappa Beta Gamma Sorority Paddle, Delta Chapter

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