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Professor, Department of English

Professor Emeritus



David Cylkowski was born in Detroit in January 1931. He attended Holy Redeemer High School. He did his undergraduate work at the University of Detroit where he received a Ph. B. in English, History, and Philosophy in 1954. His Master of Arts in English was completed on a state school scholarship at the University of Michigan in 1955. In 1980, he was awarded his doctorate in English Language and Literature from the University of Michigan. For his dissertation, he wrote a contemporary edition of the Middle English romance entitled: “A Lytel Treatyse of Ye Byrth and Pphecye of Marlyn” (A Little Treatise on the Birth and Prophecy of Merlin).


He first became an instructor of English at Mercy College in 1955. He was promoted to assistant professor in 1958 and to associate professor in 1963. Upon the receipt of his doctorate, he was promoted to full professor on May 15, 1980. In addition to his work at Mercy College, he also served at various times as adjunct professor of English at the University of Detroit, Duns Scotus College, and Sacred Heart Seminary.


In his forty years of teaching at Mercy College and the University of Detroit Mercy, Dr. Cylkowski taught a wide variety of classes, from Developmental Reading and Study Skills to Creative Writing and Composition (every level); and from the History of the English Language to the History of Film and Film Studies. He also taught every area of English and American literature and drama – ancient, medieval, modern, and contemporary.


In addition to his broad teaching responsibilities, Dr. Cylkowski filled many administrative roles for the English Department: Coordinator of Freshman Writing Assessment and Placement; Director of the Overseas Study Program (England); Director of the Pre-College Summer Program; and Director of the Administrative Assistant Program.   He also served as Acting Chair of the English Department (1963-65), and twice as Chair of the English Department (1976-81 and 1987-90).


Dr. Cylkowski dedicated a great deal of time to many of the university’s standing and ad hoc committees, at various times serving as chair of the Promotion and Tenure Committee, the Faculty Senate, the Pre-College Program Design Committee, the Library Committee, the Search Committee for Academic Dean, and the Presidential Inaugural Committee, among others. In addition to all of this, he was chosen by his colleagues to serve as President of the local chapter of the American Association of University Professors.


Throughout his career, Dr. Cylkowski was very popular with students and was consistently cited in their evaluations for his ability to bring an infectious level of enthusiasm to his classes. Students often commented that his lectures were so memorable because they went beyond the mere presentation of material and into virtual performances. In student polls, Dr. Cylkowski was listed as one of the Top Ten Faculty Members.


In recognition of his outstanding work as a teacher, Dr. Cylkowski was named Mercy College’s Faculty Member of the Year in 1972. And in recognition of his many contributions to the university community at large, he was awarded the University of Detroit Mercy’s President’s Award for Faculty Excellence in 1992.


To name only a few of his many affiliations, Dr. Cylkowski was a member of the National Council of Teachers of English; the Michigan College English Association; the Metro Detroit English Conference; the International Reading Association; the United Kingdom Reading Association; the Reading Association of Ireland; the New Chaucer Society; the Michigan Organization of Visuals Instructors and Enthusiasts; and the State Board of Directors of the Michigan Writing Projects.


In addition to his many professional associations, Dr. Cylkowski was a member of the Michigan Council for the Arts; the Michigan Nature Conservancy; the Sierra Club; Habitat for Humanity; the National Wildlife Association; and the National Environmental Defense Fund.


Dr. Cylkowski retired on May 15, 1995 and was granted Professor Emeritus status on September 13, 1995 by Maureen A. Fay, O.P., Ph.D., President, University of Detroit Mercy.

University of Detroit Mercy

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