Detroit police officers learn valuable leadership skills in the Ilitch School's Detroit Police Department Leadership Academy

Two men and a woman standing in front of a backdrop
(Left to Right) Deputy Mayor Todd A. Bettison; Dean Virginia Kleist;
Chief of Police James E. White

On Friday, May 10, the 2024 Ilitch School Detroit Police Department Leadership Academy (DPDLA) graduates celebrated their commencement in the Lear auditorium. The class included sixteen Detroit Police Department police officers and administrative workers. 

The Detroit Police Department Leadership Academy, offered through the management department at the Ilitch School, provides an accelerated executive development program for members of the Detroit Police Department to learn business and leadership skills. Students in the intensive nine-month program earn a graduate certificate in leadership and approximately half of the credits needed to achieve an MBA. Many of the students have elected to pursue a Master's of Science in Organizational Leadership following the completion of the program.  

During the ceremony, Dean Virginia Kleist provided opening remarks, as did Associate Dean Toni Somers. Chief of Police James E. White and Deputy Mayor Todd A. Bettison, two graduates of the program, were also present and spoke highly of their own time in the program, and Wayne State University at large.  

“Without this leadership certificate, I wouldn’t be deputy mayor,” commented Bettison during his remarks. 

This initiative has provided necessary leadership skills to many Detroit police officers, and aligns with WSU’s College to Career initiative, which seeks to provide every student with experiential learning opportunities that allow them to encounter the world, gain deeper insights and new perspectives, and prepare for prosperous careers.    

Dean Kleist is also very supportive of this program, commenting that “this initiative, developed and led by our own Associate Dean Toni Somers, is a critical part of our commitment to engagement with the city of Detroit. It serves as a testament to this program that both Chief White and Deputy Mayor Bettison were graduates of this program, and I have no doubt that this graduating class will take the skills they have acquired and become the next generation of leadership in the Detroit Police Department.” 

Photos from the event are available on the Ilitch Business Flickr page.  

-Patrick Bernas, Information Officer III 

The Wayne State University Mike Ilitch School of Business prepares students for challenging and rewarding careers, advances the boundaries of scholarly and practitioner knowledge, and enhances the economic vitality of the city of Detroit, the state of Michigan and beyond through its programs, research and community engagement. Established in 1946, the business school was renamed in 2015 in recognition of a $40 million gift from Mike and Marian Ilitch. Thanks to this lead investment, the school moved to a new state-of-the-art building in the heart of the District Detroit in 2018, and academic programming and collaboration with city businesses are expanding. For more information, visit    

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