Endowed Scholarships

If you would like to endow a scholarship of your own, contact Julie Hein, Director of Development, School of Law at heinja@udmercy.edu.

Endowing a scholarship is a way to honor a person and ensure that funding is available in perpetuity. Endowed scholarship funds may be established with a minimum gift of $25,000 and paid over a three- to five-year timeframe.

Fully Funded Private Endowed Scholarships

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    Attilio V. Colella ‘93 Endowed Scholarship Fund for Civil Rights Attorneys

    A. Vince Colella is creating the scholarship to give law students an opportunity to pursue a career in Civil Rights litigation, but more importantly to be passionate about the clients they serve and focus on helping those in need. Colella's trial experience includes automobile negligence, police brutality and misconduct, premises liability, sexual assault, construction and trucking accidents, insurance disputes, sexual harassment, discrimination and wrongful death. In recent years, Colella has gained a reputation in particular for his litigation efforts in gross negligence and civil rights cases.

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    Sarah E. Hunter Memorial Endowed Scholarship Fund

    Sarah was an accomplished criminal defense attorney who devoted her life to ensuring the rights of prisoners, especially the wrongly convicted. She was formerly a prehearing attorney at the Michigan Court of Appeals and later was in private practice. She defended hundreds of prisoners and won a pivotal case in Detroit, in which she won exoneration for a prisoner wrongly convicted and sentenced to life in prison who was freed after 20 years of incarceration. She was passionate about the rights of prisoners. For these reasons, we wish to create this endowed scholarship fund in memory of our sister, Sarah, for law students wishing to pursue a career in Criminal Defense law.

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    Carole Ilitch '94 and Denise Ilitch '80 Endowed Scholarship for First-Generation Law Students Who are Siblings

    Carole Ilitch

    As a graduate of the University of Detroit School of Law 1994, and a background in business, Carole formed Uptown Theatres and renovated her hometown theater. The 1926 Birmingham Theatre, slated to be demolished, was preserved and converted to an eight-screen theater for film and was truly a labor of love. Ms. Ilitch later built the Palladium Theatre adding 12 screens to the market. Today, Birmingham has a strong entertainment presence and The Birmingham Theatre is one of its majestic gems.

    Over the years Carole continued to focus on real estate at the law firm Dickinson Wright PLLC and as a mediator at Oakland Mediation. Carole is currently the CEO and founder of Cherry Creek Group, a commercial real estate and development company. Carole sits on the Wayne State University Honors College Visitors Board and formerly chaired the Detroit board of Big Green. Ms. Ilitch is passionate about helping those in need. A few of the organizations Ms. Ilitch supports are Alternative for Girls, Aids Walk Detroit, Innocence Project, Legal Aid, Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Ford Foundation.

    Denise Ilitch

    Denise Ilitch is president of Ilitch Enterprises, LLC. She received J.D. degree from the University of Detroit in 1980. She currently serves as Regent and Chair of Personnel, Compensation & Governance Committee on the University of Michigan Board of Regents, serves as a trustee for the Skillman Foundation and as chair of the Skillman External Relations & Partnerships Committee, is an Advisory Board Member on the Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Program, on the Advisory Board for the University of Pennsylvania Collegiate Athletics for Senior Leaders and a Board Member of Tiger 21 Detroit 01 & Tiger 21 New York 03.

    Ilitch was the president of Ilitch Holdings, Inc., a privately held business that manages Little Caesar Enterprises, the Detroit Red Wings, the Detroit Tigers and Olympia Entertainment. In support of her efforts to enhance educational opportunities, she established the Denise D. Ilitch Endowed Scholarship through the U-M Alumni Association LEAD Scholars Program in an effort to help students earn their advanced degrees. Ilitch has served on the board of the Detroit Branch of the NAACP, was a Detroit Red Wings Alternate Governor for the National Hockey League and was a board member of Major League Baseball. She has received the B’nai B’rith International Great American Traditions Award, the Clara Barton Award from the American Red Cross, was named 2007 Alumnus of the Year by the University of Detroit Mercy Law School, was honored as one of the Alternative for Girls 2020 Role Models, an Honoree at the Families Against Narcotics Women Honoring Women Gala in May, 2021, and Crain’s Detroit Business 2021 100 Most Influential Women. Ilitch is also a regular panelist on the CBS TV show, “Michigan Matters” and hosts a podcast, The Denise Ilitch Show on Apple, Spotify, Amazon and iHeart.

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    Nassirou and Michelle Johnson Tidjani '98 Endowed Scholarship Fund

    The Nassirou and Michelle Johnson Tidjani '98 Endowed Scholarship Fund assists students at University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. This fund, which continues in perpetuity, allows Detroit Mercy Law to maintain the affordability and quality of its programs by offering greater financial resources to its students. Michelle Johnson Tidjani created this scholarship in honor of her mother and to support African American Law students from the City of Detroit with financial need in their quest to earn a law degree.

    Student Recipient Criteria

    • Students must be enrolled full or, at least, part-time at Detroit Mercy Law;
    • Student must be African American and from Detroit;
    • Students must be in academic good standing at Detroit Mercy Law;
    • Students must demonstrate financial need or academic merit, or other merit according to guidelines established by the dean of Detroit Mercy Law.
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    Patricia D. Kennedy-Scott '78 and Glenn D. Scott Endowed Law Scholarship Fund for African American Women

    Patricia Scott Kennedy '78 has been a leader in healthcare organizations for over 40 years most recently with Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Ohio. She began her career as a lawyer in the Michigan Attorney General's office working exclusively with the Department of Public Health.

    Patricia consistently served as a role model and mentor for many women (and men), sharing the insight and crucial learnings gained through her experiences in the hospital and health plan arenas. She also has a very direct and focused, yet caring and approachable style that has served her well in the many roles she has undertaken throughout her career. In 2006, Patricia received the prestigious Athena Award honoring those who have helped women reach their full leadership potential.

    Patricia is honored to be one of Detroit Mercy's Law alumna who wishes to create an endowed scholarship fund for African American Women to help give the next generation of African American Women those same characteristics that will inspire first generation students to achieve success in their law careers.

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    Garan Lucow Miller P.C. Endowed Scholarship Fund in Civil Litigation

    The purpose of this scholarship is to assist those law school students who have an interest in learning the skills necessary to a civil litigation practice. Garan Lucow Miller P.C. (GLM) was founded by three World War II veterans who after graduation from law school dedicated their careers to civil litigation. Since its founding in 1948 the Firm has grown to establish a regional presence with 8 offices and over 80 lawyers serving clients throughout the States of Michigan, Indiana, Illinois and Ohio. Many GLM attorneys attended University of Detroit Mercy.

    Student Recipient Criteria

    • Students must be enrolled full or, at least, part-time at Detroit Mercy Law;
    • Students must be interested in pursuing a career in civil litigation;
    • Students must demonstrate financial need or academic merit, or other merit according to guidelines established by the dean of Detroit Mercy Law.
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    Steven A. Mazurak Memorial Endowed Scholarship Fund

    Stephen Andrew Mazurak was born in Berkeley, California and grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska where his father was a Professor of Agronomy at the University of Nebraska and his mother worked in social services. Steve received his B.A. degree from the University of Nebraska, and while in college worked at the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company plant in Lincoln. While there he developed his deep interest in labor and employment law. He earned his JD at the University of Nebraska School of Law as the class Valedictorian and during Law School served as the Editor of the Law Review and on the National Moot Court Team.

    Following graduation, Steve began practicing as an associate at Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison in San Francisco, and later as a partner at Rexon & Mazurak in Los Angeles. In 1980, following the academic pathway forged by his father, Steve joined the faculty at the University of Detroit School of Law where he taught Contracts and Labor Law. He served as Acting Dean in 1982-83 and as Dean from 1996-2002. During his academic career, Steve also served as a visiting professor at the University of Maribor in Slovenia in 1993 and the University of Nebraska in 2009. Steve retired from University of Detroit Mercy School of Law in 2015.

    Dr. Cynthia Zane, Steve’s wife and partner, established this endowed scholarship in his memory.

    Student Recipient Criteria

    • Students must be enrolled full or, at least, part-time at Detroit Mercy Law;
    • Students must demonstrate financial need or academic merit, or other merit according to guidelines established by the dean of Detroit Mercy Law;
    •  Recipients should be second or third-year law students;
    •  Scholarships will be awarded to students demonstrating an interest in employment or labor law.
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    Thomas W. Payne Endowed Scholarship Fund

    The Thomas W. Payne Endowed Scholarship Fund assists students at University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. The Fund, which continues in perpetuity, provides an annual income that allows Detroit Mercy Law to maintain the affordability and quality of its programs by offering greater financial resources to its students.

    The Fund is in honor of Mr. Payne a graduate of the class 1953. Mr. Payne has been a member of the Michigan Bar since 1953. From 1953 until 1974, he worked for National Bank of Detroit Trust Department. When he left the Bank in 1974 to take up the private practice of law, he was Vice President in charge of the Oakland County Trust Department of National Bank of Detroit. Since leaving the Bank in 1974, he has limited his practice almost exclusively to estate planning, including the preparation of wills and trusts, handling of probate estates, and living trusts, including federal estate and gift tax returns, and federal fiduciary income tax returns.

    Mr. Payne has acted as an expert witness in probate and trust matters in Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb County Probate Courts. He has been a guest speaker at numerous seminars for private groups and various local bar associations.

    Student Recipient Criteria

    • Students must be enrolled full or, at least, part-time at Detroit Mercy Law;
    • Students must demonstrate financial need or academic merit, or other merit according to guidelines established by the dean of Detroit Mercy Law.
    • Students must be interested in pursuing a career in estate planning, wills and trusts.
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    Thomas Plunkett 1963 Memorial Endowed Scholarship Fund

    The Thomas G. Plunkett Memorial Scholarship Fund assists students at University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. The Fund, which continues in perpetuity, provides an annual income that allows Detroit Mercy Law to maintain the affordability and quality of its programs by offering greater financial resources to its students.

    Thomas G. Plunkett was born in Covington, Kentucky on November 18, 1938. Tom excelled in the classroom and, after 8th grade, entered the Pontifical College Josephinum, a Catholic seminary in Columbus, Ohio. His teen years in the seminary were atypical to say the least. The seminarians wore cassocks and practiced near complete silence outside of the classroom (The Great Silence). Tom had a truly classical education at the seminary, spending more than six years studying not only Latin and German, but also Greek. Tom left the seminary during his junior year in college and returned to northern Kentucky to attend what was then called Villa Madonna College (now Thomas More). When Tom was graduating from college in 1960, he was an excellent student who wanted to go to law school, but had little money. The dean of the University of Detroit Law School (Father David Cowan Bayne, S.J.), was looking to turn U of D into the “Harvard of the Midwest” by attracting superior students, but the school was out of scholarship money. In stepped Robert Plunkett (Plunkett & Cooney) to pay for the law school education of the “kid from Kentucky named Plunkett.”

    Student Recipient Criteria

    • Students must be enrolled full or, at least, part-time at Detroit Mercy Law;
    • Students must demonstrate financial need or academic merit, or other merit according to guidelines established by the dean of Detroit Mercy Law.
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    Priestap Family Endowed Scholarship Fund

    Gary Priestap BS '66, JD '71, MBA '98 and Deborah Priestap DDS '86 are creating a legacy endowed scholarship to be named the Priestap Family Endowed Scholarship Fund in tribute to three generations attending Detroit Mercy Law.

    Student Recipient Criteria

    • Students must be enrolled full or, at least, part-time at Detroit Mercy Law;
    • Students must demonstrate financial need or academic merit, or other merit according to guidelines established by the dean of Detroit Mercy Law;
    • Preference shall be given to students that were former college athletes.
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    Callan Pringle Suchyta and Leonard Charles Suchyta Endowed Scholarship Fund

    Leonard Charles Suchyta '68 Detroit Mercy Law alumnus is creating an endowed scholarship fund as a tribute to both himself and his wife Callan Pringle Suchyta. While his wife was a much-admired assistant dean and professor at Detroit Mercy Law, she first came to the law school in 1978 as a librarian. In 1979, she was chosen "Professor of the Year" by a vote of the student body. Callan loved to spend time with students and helping them to realize what a great profession the law is.

    Leonard Suchyta, still active as an attorney, has held past senior intellectual property positions with Verizon and GTE. Now 50 some years later, Leonard is still just as excited about the law as when he first graduated. Both Suchyta’s love the law, and both were incessantly devoted to the practice of law, so it is fitting that this endowed scholarship fund be created.

    Student Recipient Criteria

    •  Students must be enrolled full time at Detroit Mercy Law;
    •  Students must be in good academic standing at Detroit Mercy Law;
    •  Students must demonstrate financial need or academic merit, or other merit according to guidelines established by the dean of Detroit Mercy Law.
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    State Bar of Michigan Intellectual Property Law Section Endowed Scholarship for Intellectual Property Law

    The State Bar of Michigan Intellectual Property Law Section Endowed Scholarship for Intellectual Property Law assists students at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. The Fund, which continues in perpetuity, allows Detroit Mercy Law to maintain the affordability and quality of its programs by offering greater financial resources to provide scholarships to students enrolled in or accepted for study in the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. Recipients must have an interest in becoming an intellectual property law attorney, and meet other criteria as set forth below. Recipients may use awards for tuition and other educational expenses.

    Student Recipient Criteria

    • Students enrolled full or, at least, part-time at Detroit Mercy Law;
    • Students pursuing a career in intellectual property law; and
    • Students who are in good academic standing.
    • Preference will be given to applicants who are members of the State Bar of Michigan Intellectual Property Section.

    Visit the State Bar of Michigan Intellectual Property Law website.

Expendable Scholarship Funds

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    Dennis L. Dabney Scholarship Fund

    Dennis L. Dabney ’00 established the Dennis L. Dabney Scholarship Fund to support educational diversity at the School of Law, consistent with the University’s mission and admissions policy. This expendable scholarship fund annually benefits two to four students from a historically underrepresented population enrolled at University of Detroit Mercy School of Law.

    Student Recipient Criteria

    • Students enrolled full or, at least, half-time at University of Detroit Mercy School of Law;
    • Students from a historically underrepresented population;
    • Students who are citizens or permanent residents of the United States;
    • Students demonstrate financial need or academic merit or other merit according to the guidelines established by the dean of the School of Law.
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    Dalton & Tomich PLC Expendable Scholarship Fund for Land Use and Zoning

    Daniel Dalton '90 is a graduate and long-time member of the Dean's Advisory Board at Detroit Mercy Law. An expendable scholarship fund has been established for law students wishing to pursue careers in Land Use and Zoning through the firm of Dalton & Tomich, PLC.

    The Dalton & Tomich PLC Expendable Scholarship Fund for Land Use and Zoning is an expendable fund that benefits worthy and capable Detroit Mercy Law students. This will assist the students with financial aid, enabling their attendance at University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. The Fund will allow Detroit Mercy Law to maintain the affordability and quality of its programs by offering greater financial resources to its students.

    "I remember how appreciative I was to receive a scholarship as a law school student and am pleased to give back to the institution that played such a vital role in helping me develop the legal career I’ve built today. Speaking on behalf of our firm, we are happy to give this gift for the specific purpose of land use and zoning to assist future attorneys in pursuing legal work that is engaging, challenging and fulfilling.”
    Daniel Dalton '90

    “I’m grateful to the professionals at Dalton & Tomich PLC for this generous scholarship and am confident it will be of great benefit to students with an interest in planning and zoning who want to continue their law education and practice in this area.”
    Dean Jelani Jefferson Exum

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    Ven Johnson 1986 Expendable Scholarship Fund

    The Ven Johnson Scholarship Fund is an expendable fund that benefits two to four qualified University of Detroit Mercy School of Law students. The intent is to assist University of Detroit Mercy School of Law students with financial aid, enabling their attendance at the University’s School of Law. The Fund will allow the School of Law to maintain the affordability and quality of its programs by providing greater financial resources to its students.

    Student Recipient Criteria

    • Students must be enrolled full or, at least, half-time at University of Detroit Mercy School of Law;
    • Preference for U.S. citizens;
    • Preference for African American student or other minority student;
    • Students must demonstrate financial need or academic merit or other merit according to the guidelines established by the dean of the School of Law.
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    Patrick Meyer Expendable Scholarship for African Americans Fund

    The Patrick Meyer Expendable Scholarship for African Americans Fund is an expendable fund that benefits worthy and capable Detroit Mercy Law students. The intent is to encourage the enrollment and retention of highly-qualified African American students in recognition of the high percentage of African-American citizens in Detroit, where the University is located. The Fund will allow Detroit Mercy Law to maintain the affordability and quality of its programs by offering greater financial resources to its students.

    Student Recipient Criteria

    • Scholarships are awarded only to African American prospective students;
    • Prospective students must be admitted to Detroit Mercy Law;
    • Prospective students must possess high entrance qualifications;
    • To continue to receive the scholarship in years two and three, students must be enrolled full or, at least, part-time at Detroit Mercy Law.
    • Scholarship funds that exceed tuition and University fees may be used for books, supplies or other living expenses.
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    Marisa C. Petrella '83 Memorial Expendable Scholarship Fund for Women Law Students

    The Marisa C. Petrella '83 Memorial Scholarship is an expendable fund that benefits worthy and capable Detroit Mercy Law students.  Upon graduation from University of Detroit School of Law in 1983, Marisa worked at a corporate defense firm as a litigator for nine years and became the first female partner at that firm. In 1993, she was one of the founding members of a law firm with an international law focus. In 1995, Marisa started her own firm, Petrella Associates, PC, focusing on the areas of estate law and immigration. In 2006, she was the founding partner of Petrella Brown PLC in Southfield, MI. Marisa possessed a strong sense of service, a generous spirit, and completed a considerable amount of pro bono work throughout her career. As a first-generation Italian, Marisa was an immigration attorney that embraced International Women's Day with a passion.

    In 2020, Marisa was honored by the Italian government as the recipient of an award recognizing her exceptional legal work for the Italian Consulate in Detroit. She was given the highest honor possible for a non-Italian citizen: Cavaliere dell'Ordine della Stella d'Italia (Knight of the Order of the Italian Star). Marisa actively volunteered and was a member of various community board of directors.

    Student Recipient Criteria

    • Student must be a female enrolled full or, at least, part-time at Detroit Mercy Law
    • Students must demonstrate financial need according to guidelines established by the dean of Detroit Mercy Law;
    • Preference for a student with involvement in Law Review, Moot Court Awardee or Baccalaureate Mass Organizer.

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