WSU board vote paves way for new Ilitch business school
The largest donation in the history of Wayne State University started with a conversation a year ago between the school's president and the scion of one of Detroit's business empires. Christopher Ilitch, president and CEO of the umbrella company over the Little Caesars pizza chain and the professional sports teams Detroit Tigers and Red Wings, wanted to brief Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson on a major development. The company was planning to tie the city's downtown and Midtown neighborhoods together through a massive entertainment district featuring a new hockey arena. The university's main campus sits in Midtown. During the conversation, Wilson said he listened and brought up his own action item: building a new $50-million business school in the city's downtown. "It wasn't a pitch or anything," Wilson said in an interview. "I noticed the look on his face, but he didn't say much." But Christopher Ilitch recalled Friday that he was so captivated by Wilson's idea that he pitched it immediately that night to his parents, Mike and Marian Ilitch, the company's founders. "It took all of about 20 minutes for them to say we want to build that business school," Ilitch said in an interview. "My parents are constantly looking for ways to make the community a better place." The WSU Board of Governors voted Friday to accept the donation and to name the school the Mike Ilitch School of Business in honor of its largest benefactor.