Ribbon cut on new Mike Ilitch School of Business

This story originally appeared on the District Detroit's website. 

New Mike Ilitch School of Business, Made Possible by $40M Donation from Mike and Marian Ilitch, Opens to Thousands of Students, Expands Wayne State Campus to The District Detroit

Made possible by a $40 million gift from Mike and Marian Ilitch, the opening of the Mike Ilitch School of Business at Wayne State University was celebrated today. The gift was the largest in the school’s history, and highlights Mike and Marian Ilitch’s lifelong dedication to promoting entrepreneurship, education and the revitalization of Detroit.

Through new curriculum and programming developed at the business school this year, Mike and Marian Ilitch’s nearly 50 years of success will be shared with generations of students who will learn to create their own businesses and pursue careers in Detroit’s thriving workforce.

"Mike and I were so proud to make the gift to build this school, it was one of the highlights of our careers," said Little Caesars co-founder Marian Ilitch. "We were so excited about the positive impact it will have on the students, the university, the city of Detroit and our broader community, for generations to come."

Since the $40 million donation was announced in October 2015, graduate MBA enrollment has increased by 65 percent, and total school enrollment has increased by 30 percent to more than 4,000 students.

Faculty and staff moved into offices earlier this summer.

"Mike and Marian Ilitch have provided Wayne State students with a world-class environment to learn, connect and dream," said Christopher Ilitch, President and CEO of Ilitch Holdings, Inc. "Graduates from the Mike Ilitch School of Business will propel Detroit's incredible resurgence for many years and will continue the incredible legacy of Mike and Marian Ilitch."

Since announcing this gift, the business school has launched new programs in Sport and Entertainment Management and Entrepreneurship and Innovation—creating even more opportunities for students to become immersed in Detroit’s business community.

“The opening of the Mike Ilitch School of Business is one of many recent developments that reinforces Wayne State University as a leader in urban education, the state of Michigan and beyond,” said Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson. “We appreciate the incredible investment Mike and Marian Ilitch have made in our university and in our students.”

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder also recognized the importance of the gift.

"In my business career and throughout my term as Governor, I've recognized the importance of fostering our next generation of talent by providing opportunities for education that meet the needs of students and their future employers," Snyder said. "This remarkable donation from Mike and Marian Ilitch will support Wayne State's business students while fueling local and statewide economic growth in meaningful ways for decades."

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan also recognized the significance of the Ilitch’s donation to Wayne State University.

"The resurgence our city is experiencing today is opening up incredible business opportunities, and it's critical that we develop the next generation of talent to take advantage of them," said Mayor Duggan. "Thanks to this gift from Mike and Marian Ilitch, we now have a world-class facility that will help support and sustain our economic growth by preparing our future business leaders."

Business Leaders for Michigan also recognized the positive impact of this donation. 

"Michigan's business leaders fully understand the critical need for the next generation of talent to help fuel Detroit’s and Michigan's growing economies," said Doug Rothwell, President and CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan. "Mike’s and Marian's gift to the Mike Ilitch School of Business at Wayne State will support established and new businesses in Detroit and Michigan for years to come."

Classes will begin at the new Mike Ilitch School of Business building August 29, 2018.

Destination for Sports, Entertainment and Higher Learning

The business school neighbors Little Caesars Arena, the home of the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Pistons, and the anchor of the densest professional sports district in the nation—also home to the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park and the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. The completion of the business school signifies a continued effort to support and spur development between Midtown and downtown, catalyzing even more jobs, density and activity to Woodward Avenue and the surrounding area.

Students and faculty will join hundreds of new employees currently working in nearby offices adjacent to Little Caesars Arena, including the Detroit-based offices of Google along with Olympia Entertainment, 313 Presents and the Detroit Red Wings.

To date, the Ilitch organization has invested $1.4 billion in office, retail and other commercial developments in The District Detroit. Since that time, more than 200 other projects, including hotels, residential projects and office space within a 10-minute walk of Little Caesars Arena, are together adding another $2.7 billion of new investment to downtown Detroit.

Since construction began in summer 2016, the Mike Ilitch School of Business had a positive impact on the local economy. Nearly 40 percent of construction contracts, exceeding $17 million, were awarded to Detroit-based and Detroit-headquartered businesses under the management of Christman-Brinker, which brings together Detroit-based construction companies L.S. Brinker and The Christman Company. Architectural firm SmithGroup, also based in Detroit, led the development of the school’s updated design.

Sleek, Open Design

The state-of-the-art, 125,000-squarefoot building features a two-story atrium, an executive MBA suite, a full-service accounting lab, flexible spaces for tutoring and advising and room to support local pop-up retail operations. Additionally, the school’s 260-seat Lear Auditorium is equipped with AV technology and the ability to accommodate full-sized vehicles for the university’s automotive industry partners. To aid student and faculty research, the four-story building also includes a street-level finance and data analytics lab boasting a Wall Street-style LED stock ticker and interactive display wall, along with multiple Bloomberg terminals and databases.

Mike Ilitch School of Business Dean Bob Forsythe added: “Watching our new home advance from inception to reality has been one of the most rewarding moments of my career. Mike and Marian Ilitch’s historic donation has made way for our best and brightest students to thrive more than ever before. We are forever thankful for the philanthropy provided to our academic community.”

About Michael and Marian Ilitch

Mike and Marian Ilitch have been prominent Detroit entrepreneurs and philanthropists for decades. The Ilitches founded Little Caesars in 1959 and grew the company from a single storefront into the world's largest carryout pizza chain. This venture laid the groundwork for the development and acquisition of numerous other businesses and sports teams. Ilitch companies include Little Caesars, Blue Line Distribution, the Detroit Red Wings, Olympia Entertainment, the Detroit Tigers, Olympia Development, Little Caesars Pizza Kit Fundraising Program and Champion Foods. The organization also has a joint venture interest in 313 Presents. Additionally, Marian Ilitch owns MotorCity Casino Hotel. The companies collectively employ more than 24,000 people and have a total combined annual revenue of $3.6 billion.

With more than 7,500 colleagues working in the city of Detroit, Ilitch companies are one of the largest employers in the region.  Their downtown venues attract more than 12 million visitors annually. Ilitch companies contribute time, money and resources to the community through Ilitch Charities, the Detroit Red Wings Foundation, Detroit Tigers Foundation, Little Caesars Love Kitchen and the Little Caesars Veterans Program.

This $40 million donation is one of two major gifts Mike and Marian Ilitch made to Wayne State University in recent years.  In July 2014, they gave $8.5 million to the School of Medicine creating the Ilitch chair for surgical innovation and changing the department’s name to the Michael and Marian Ilitch Department of Surgery.

About the Mike Ilitch School of Business

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 the $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 IlitchBusinessWayne.edu.

About Wayne State University

Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution offering more than 380 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to more than 27,000 students.

About The District Detroit

The District Detroit is a dynamic urban destination in the heart of Detroit— one that includes something for everyone — a dense neighborhood experience with a variety of developments alongside Detroit’s premier sports and entertainment venues. Connecting downtown Detroit to growing nearby neighborhoods such as Midtown, Corktown and Brush Park, The District Detroit is having a dramatic economic impact on Detroit and is a driving catalyst of the city’s remarkable resurgence. The District Detroit will deliver $1.4 billion in new investment to Detroit including the new Little Caesars Arena, Mike Ilitch School of Business at Wayne State University and Little Caesars world headquarters campus expansion. Additionally, new office, residential and retail spaces will continue to add momentum to Detroit’s amazing comeback for years to come.

Development in The District Detroit has already created more than 20,000 construction and construction-related jobs and more than 3,000 permanent jobs after the opening of Little Caesars Arena, two-thirds of which were filled by Detroiters. Today, Detroit’s unemployment rate is at its lowest levels in nearly 20 years.  By the year 2020, research demonstrates that the developments will account for an economic impact to the city, region and state of more than $2 billion.

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