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Director's Message

  • Author:
    W. Scott Westerman III
  • Published:
    Fall 2015

The nighttime mural that is the Motor City skyline is best viewed from across the Detroit River, in Windsor.  At this vantage point, the glittering edifices thrust ever higher toward the gleaming pinnacle of the General Motors Renaissance Center.

From a distance, the city of Detroit still appears to be a majestic monument to American Industry. Up close, it is a place where people again “hope for better things.”
After a disastrous fire nearly leveled Detroit in 1805, the city adopted a Latin motto on its seal.  When translated, it reads, “We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes.”

They are the twin adages that adorn the Detroit flag. For more than two centuries, they have quietly whispered a message of courage and faith to a city that has intimately experienced both triumph and tragedy.

Today, Detroit is in the midst of another re-invention. The auto industry is back, leaner, more agile and, some say, stronger than ever.  Detroit is becoming a center of technological brainpower that rivals the best minds in Silicon Valley. The sons and daughters of the suburbs are returning to the city center, bringing talent, commerce and energy with them.

Believers like Ed Deeb, Dr. Reginald Eadie, Elysia Borowy-Reeder, Daniel Brooks and Dan Gilbert are investing their personal time, talent and treasure to re-envision and rebuild—what was once called “The Arsenal of Democracy”—into the essence of the American Dream. You’ll read their stories in this issue of the MSU Alumni Magazine.
They all have one thing in common. They are Spartans.

The challenges they face are monumental and manifold. But such things fire a Spartan’s imagination and inspire us to reach higher. Spartans will press on, when others may have given up. Spartans will attack the world’s biggest problems, one day at a time. Spartans will prevail.

I recently flew into Detroit from the East coast, at night. Delta vectors its aircraft across Lake Erie and over the Ontario farmlands, bisecting the Detroit River before lining up on DTW’s runway 22L. From this perspective, the Motor City emerges from the Canadian darkness, revealing all its pain and potential.

Deplaning at the far end of the McNamara Terminal, I board the red shuttle heading for baggage claim. At both ends of the sky train, small video monitors flash the image of an extraordinary individual, with a green plume floating over her head.
“Who will change the world for the better?” the copy reads.

The next line gives us the answer: an answer that is at the core of Detroit’s revival, providing a firm and reassuring foundation for every great achievement that lies before us. “Spartans Will.”