Author Archives: Pat Higo

Past Coffee Mugs (or Tea Cups) at University of Detroit Mercy


Starting to feel the winter chill in the air? A recent request by the Fitness Center for current or historical UDM coffee mugs started me to go through the archives to see if there were duplicate mugs we might have in the collection that could be donated. Didn’t have much, but check through the pictures of the ones we do have and if you see one you have sitting unused in your cupboards, send it on over to the UDM Fitness Center!










1965 Model United Nations at UD

In 1948, the United Nations General Assembly declared 24 October, the anniversary of the Charter of the United Nations, as which “shall be devoted to making known to the peoples of the world the aims and achievements of the United Nations and to gaining their support for” its work.


In the 1960′s, the University of Detroit Student Council sponsored an annual meeting of the Model United Nations. More than 600 high school students from Michigan and Canada would meet for three days on the McNichols campus to hold General Assembly meetings. Each school was assigned a country, with each delegation taking actual political position of the nation they represented. More than 100 university students were involved in the project aiding the high school students as secretaries, chairmen of the committees and members of the secretariat staff.


The Model UN was to be an educational experience in international relations. In the 1965 Model UN, the student delegates discussed the questions of  sovereignty over natural resources, the renunciation of the use of force in territorial disputes, and internal problems in Southern Rhodesia, Malaysia, and Viet Nam. Each delegation was composed of five delegates. The delegates were expected to research their assigned country’s policy toward the specific issue and to submit resolutions and amendments, to speak, caucus, and vote on the documents.

Some of the students improvised costumes of the country they were representing.




Fisher Fountain Dedication


The Fisher Fountain is a memorial to Charles T. Fisher,Jr., a prominent and active businessman and civic leader in the city of Detroit. He graduated from the University of Detroit High School and at the time of his death was President of the National Bank of Detroit. He was also a member of the Board of Directors of General Motors, American Airlines, Cunningham Drug Stores, Detroit Edison and Michigan Bell.


The dedication ceremony, held October 21, 1960, was attended by members of the Fisher Family, and friends, alumni, faculty and students of the University. Music was provided by the University of Detroit Band and Chorus. The Army and Air Force ROTC provided the color guard. The Fountain was made possible through contributions by friends of Mr. Fisher from all over the nation, and an endowment by his widow.


After the blessing, part of Fr. Steiner, President of UD, remarks:

“As the memorial plaque indicates, it is  “A Fountain of Water Springing Up into Life Everlasting.” It is a symbol, then with various meanings. To some it may be merely a means of beautifying the campus of the University of Detroit; while to others it may represent an area of tranquility, wherein faculty members and students may find a moment of rest in the midst of a busy day; or wherein as evening shadows lengthen across the campus, they may pause to say a silent prayer for themselves and of the man whose memory is kept fresh in our minds by the gentle rise and fall of the “water springing up into life everlasting.”

To me, though, this fountain, above all else, symbolizes goodness-the goodness of the man memorialized and the goodness of those who made this fountain a reality. Let me explain. With reason, a major concern of universities today is the development of highly competent scholars and scientists. Even more urgently needed than scholars and scientists, however, are good men and women who are sensitive to goodness, truth and beauty, of God and His creation, men and women, finally, whose lives are daily motivated not just by principles and purposes, but right principles and good purposes.

Charles T. Fisher, Jr., … was a good man, good in the fullest sense of the term. …Since our lives are dedicated to the formation of the minds and hearts and wills of our students, we asked to share this fountain with them. Death, as we know, does not take away life, but only changes it. Our thought, then, was that [Charles] Fisher living with God in Heaven, would continue to be an example and inspiration to youth through this tangible reminder of his good life on earth.”


An Astronomical Hope….


Back around 1927 to 1930, when the University of Detroit had just started to develop the McNichols campus, there was a plan to build an observatory. Astronomical equipment valued at $25,000, enough to outfit a complete observatory, had been donated to the University of Detroit by William A. Fisher, president of the Fisher Body corporation in 1927. The instruments were purchased from the Rev. Anton Petrarjis, who had to give up his hobby of studying the stars because of ill health.


The equipment, which included a large telescope with 12 inch lens and a 16 ft tube with a massive nine-foot pier, a second telescope with a six-and-a-half-inch lens set in a brass eight-foot long tube, required a lot of storage space until an observatory could be built. The equipment was stored in the Science building (now the Architecture building). There was a hope that an observatory could be built with donations from former students who were now priests as a fitting memorial by the alumni priests “who have taken up God’s work.”

So the university had the equipment and they even had a faculty who could take charge of the observatory. Rev. James L. McGeary, S.J., professor of physics, had served as an assistant director of Manila Observatory in the Philippines and had built and directed the observatory of Marquette University at Milwaukee, Wisconsin. There was also a keen interest by the students to have an observatory built, many offering their services to put up a temporary observatory, –anything “to get things going.” All they really needed was the building!

As appealing the need for an observatory might have been (i.e. students of civil engineering required a course in astronomy, would hold its standing in the educational world, the great city of Detroit has no observatory, the nearest one is at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor), it did not appear to have enough financial funding to proceed with such a project.There is in the file a listing of pledges of the diocesan clergy in 1930 with the amount paid. It does not appear that they got anywhere near the goal of $15,000 (or $24,000, the first original amount of $15,000 on the memo was crossed out). From the donor list of the 1930 Observatory Fund, of the priests that were still alive, less than $6,000 was raised. They were hoping for $100 from 150 priests. The few that did contribute gave from $10 to $500, with one priest donating $1000. One should probably keep in mind that in 1930, a hundred dollars during a period of economic depression is a lot to expect.

So what happened to all the equipment to be used for the observatory? In the file there is only a handwritten note that the “telescope is now in the hands of the Detroit Astronomical Society.” A search of the internet does not show any such society that is active-but after 85 years, who knows what became of the telescopes.

1966 UD Town & Gown Series: Fiesta Mexicana


As part of the University of Detroit Town and Gown Celebrity Series, a program “Fiesta Mexicana”, a company of 30 of Mexico’s top singers, dancers, and musicians gave a performance at the Memorial building (now Calihan Hall). The company had performed all over the world including London, Milan, Paris, Berlin, and Tokoyo. The performance covered Mexican culture from the pre-Hispanic Aztec and Mayan civilizations to modern times through folk and popular dances and customs.



BEAUTIES FROM A BEAUTIFUL LAND, Melina Oritz, Princess Teo Xocitl, Maria Luisa Ortiz and Antonieta Casas performed in “Fiesta Mexicana”


Fiesta Mexicana program, October 30, 1966














Scene from Dance to the God of Music. Background is the House of Idols in Mexico City, reproductions of temple ruins of Yucatan.

















Marimba artist Mario Salguero


Charro Valentino, a Mexican gentleman horseman who is expert with the ropes, also a man of rank would wear similar attire on formal occasions.


“Deer Dance”, Mario Dominguez: Mayan warriors emerge from the forest on a deer hunt. The new young deer chief and his mate are slain by the warriors.


















Jose Rodriguez and the Rio Blanco Singers


Banned Books Week: The Freedom to Choose or Express an Opinion


While this may be a little off the premise of this blog, it can be argued that it will be about “Special Collections”.

For years the American Library Association have published a list of books that have been challenged and/or banned that range from Ulysses, by James Joyce, burned in U.S. (1918), Ireland (1922), Canada (1922), England (1923) and banned in England (1929) to  And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell in 2014 because it is anti-family, has political and religious viewpoints, unsuitable for age group and “promotes the homosexual agenda”.banbook2

Yes, even the Captain Underpants series can top the list of “Most Frequently Challenged”. How much harm can a story do with character names like Captain Underpants fighting against the evil Dr. Diaper who gets defeated by some fake doggy doo-doo!

There are the more adult titles with serious subjects that have come under fire for being offensive or disagreeable. They include such classics as: The Great Gatsby, The Grapes of Wrath, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Color Purple, 1984, Of Mice and Men, Gone with the Wind, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Slaughterhouse-Five, Lord of the Rings, A Clockwork Orange and many, many more. A listing is available at the American Library Association page on Banned Books Week.

There was a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education titled, For Our Free Speech, We Have Censors to Thank. It is about Anthony Comstock, a U.S. postal inspector and secretary and a special agent of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, an organization empowered by state statute to supervise the morality of the public (1873-1915). In his effort to ban or seize material he considered indecent and obscene, he had a number of laws passed and incarcerated thousands of citizens. Public opinion, however, created a whole different  reaction to what was objectionable. If anything, if it was something that Mr. Comstock wanted censored, promoters and publishers loved it and even hoped it would get his attention because they would see in increase in sales! Talk about unintended consequences!

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Books have been around for hundreds of years, but similar campaigns to censor material can be found in other media including art, music, movies, television, video games and even the internet. Wherever there is controversy, someone is going to object to its expression. The question becomes what should be censored, who should be authorized to censor the material and maybe the bigger question is why and are the reasons valid?



Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Broadside Press


Dudley Randall was the poet in residence as well as a librarian at the University of Detroit Mercy. He founded the Broadside Press in 1965 as a venue to publish and promote African American poets and writers. The works of Sonia Sanchez, Nikki Giovanni, Gwendolyn Brooks and many others that were mainly Detroit natives had their works published by Randall’s Broadside Press. Dudley Randall passed away August 5, 2000, but his legacy has continued through the publications of the Broadside Press.

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Celebrate Spirit!

spirit1aThe University of Detroit Mercy started a new tradition in 2000 to celebrate the beginning of the new school year. Celebrate Spirit! the official welcoming event for all UDM faculty staff and students, is part of a long tradition dating from the founding of the great European universities in the Middle Ages. The occasion welcomes new members and invites them to commit themselves to UDM’s mission.

As part of the celebration, a mass is held in Calihan Hall followed by a picnic lunch and student organization fair. Morning and afternoon class schedules are revised so everyone can attend.


In the procession into the assembly, banners from each of the colleges are carried in followed by the freshmen in the college. Another set of processional banners carry medallions of major world religions: Star of David (Judaism), the Cross (Christianity), Star and Crescent (Islam), Yin-yang symbol (Confucianism), Dharma Wheel (Buddhism) and the OM (Hinduism). Often with the diversity of the students and staff of the university, these medallions can be carried by a person who follows that faith.


The Celebrate Spirit! event held September 13, 2001 was a very somber occasion with the recent tragedy of 9/11. In front of the library there is a peace pole to commemorate the event.


Celebrate Spirit 2014




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