Ilitch School assistant dean of student services celebrates 50 years of service

Some of the strongest student retention rates at Wayne State University come out of the Mike Ilitch School of Business. Considering the example set by the school’s assistant dean of student services, it’s no surprise.

This year, the Ilitch School congratulates Assistant Dean of Student Services Linda Zaddach on her semi-centennial anniversary with Wayne State University!

Fifty years at one institution might be rare in today’s world of job jumping, but Zaddach says sticking with Wayne State all these years has made perfect sense.

“I love my job—there aren’t a whole lot of people that can say that, but I think that’s why I stuck around so long,” Zaddach said. “There’s a lot of personal satisfaction in seeing students succeed and doing whatever I can to help them.”

Zaddach, who oversees the Ilitch School’s Frederick Hessler Student Success Center, completed her undergraduate degree and master’s in school counseling and guidance at Wayne State, then started working in the university’s personnel office, which later became the human resources division, in 1970.

“I grew up on the eastside of Detroit and wanted to be a nurse,” she said. “I had no intention of going to Wayne State, but a friend encouraged me to apply—I started and never left!”

Zaddach worked at Detroit’s legendary Sanders Candy and an electric company as a teenager, but her first “adult” jobs were at Wayne State. She also met her husband at the university more than 44 years ago.

She took over as the assistant dean of student services at what is now the Ilitch School in 1993. As assistant dean, she focuses on guiding her team of 12 to give students the best possible advice.

“We do a lot of recruiting and focus heavily on retention, too,” she said. “When we bring students in, we help them throughout their academic career, and that’s part of why we award more undergraduate degrees than any other school or college – other than the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences – at Wayne State.”

One experience with a student stands out to her when she contemplates the importance of her position.

“There’s one recent student who’s very much on my mind,” she said. “He was at the wrong place at the wrong time and the victim of a shooting. He almost didn’t survive, but he’s graduating now.”

“I was able to be an advocate for him,” she added. “It makes you feel good all over that you were able to help someone in such a traumatic situation succeed.”

When Zaddach isn’t busy reaching out to students one-on-one or meeting with her advisors and assistants, she teaches a 1000-level course she helped create that is designed to help students with general academic and career success.

“The course includes simple but really vital skills like creating a resume, putting together a LinkedIn profile and how to interview,” she said. “A major goal of the class is really to get students’ minds set in the right direction.”

Zaddach says she enjoys teaching the class because she often gets to guide students in some of their professional “firsts.”

“It’s a fun class to teach,” she said. “We teach them things they’ll use the rest of their careers.”

While Zaddach says working with students has been the highlight of her career, watching the university develop over the course of her 50 years has been another high point.

“Things have changed dramatically at the university—there weren’t malls throughout the campus, there were roads!” she said. “The transformation has been unbelievable. The building I started out in doesn’t even exist.”

The Ilitch School’s recent move to a state-of-the-art building in The District Detroit has been another change.

“We have this gorgeous building in the center of Detroit now, next door to Little Caesars Arena and close to downtown where all the action is,” she said.

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