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University Histories

The history of an academic institution can be chronicled from different perspectives. These perspectives might include the reports and editorials found in student newspapers, the content from the deans’ annual convocation reports, self-evaluations created for accreditation reports, oral histories, and/or the documents preserved in university archives. Although all provide segments of the history, none of these would be classified as the official history of the institution.

The University of Detroit Mercy is the oldest and largest Catholic university in Michigan. The University of Detroit, founded in 1877, and Mercy College of Detroit, founded in 1941, joined together in 1990 to form the University of Detroit Mercy. Sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy and the Society of Jesus, the spirit of the institution is focused on “compassionate service of persons of need, commitment to quality education, the service of faith, and the promotion of justice.”

Sr. Mary Justine Sabourin, R.S.M. of Mercy College of Detroit and Fr. Herman J. Muller, S.J. are the primary authors of the official history books of each of their respective institutions prior to consolidation and co-authored the post consolidation book, Legacy of Excellence. Sr. Sabourin joined Mercy College of Detroit in 1941as Dean of Students and Fr. Muller joined the University of Detroit in 1956 as a history professor. With their long years of service they were well versed in the history of their respective institutions and well prepared to gather all the relevant information to produce the official histories.

In recognition of the work of these two authors, the University of Detroit Mercy awarded both Sr. Sabourin and Fr. Muller Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees in 2002. A little known fact in the community is that both of these individuals were in their nineties when they began to collaborate on the Legacy of Excellence history.

Fr. Muller also wrote the history of the UDM College of Business Administration in celebration of its 75th Anniversary, 75 Years of Quality Business Education 1916-1991. In honor of the 100th Anniversary of the College of Engineering and Science an Engineering Centennial Notebook was created.

Alumni, friends, students, employees and others interested in the University of Detroit Mercy are encouraged to peruse these books and gain an appreciation of the significant contributions the University has made to the city of Detroit and the inspiration it has been to past, current, and future leaders.


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