Decades-old alumni friendships honored with naming of campus facilities

contact: Cheryl Roland
| WMU News

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—More than 50 years of friendship will be honored with the naming of three Western Michigan University facilities for a trio of men who met on campus as students and went on to become WMU trustees, Detroit business and civic leaders, and champions of young people.

Photo of Ronald E. Hall.


Acting at its April 27 meeting, the WMU Board of Trustees approved naming two campus residence halls and a Heritage Hall conference room for the three alumni, who met at WMU in the 1960s. They are:

  • Ronald E. Hall, a 1965 WMU alumnus, Detroit civic and business leader, and automotive executive who died June 1, 2016, half way into his eight-year term as a WMU Trustee.
  • Dennis W. Archer, a 1965 WMU alumnus, former Detroit mayor, former member of the Michigan Supreme Court and past president of the American Bar Association as well as a former trustee.
  • William F. Pickard, a 1964 alumnus who is a current WMU trustee, longtime Detroit entrepreneur, and founder and chairman of the Global Automotive Alliance.
Photo of Dennis W. Archer Sr.


Action by the WMU board April 27 means that, in recognition of a $3,050,000 gift recently made by Pickard to the University and in celebration of the three friends' lifelong bonds and ties to WMU, the two residence halls that comprise the Western Heights complex will be named Hall-Archer-Pickard Hall East and Hall-Archer-Pickard Hall West. In addition, a conference room on the main level of Heritage Hall will be named the Hall-Archer-Pickard Conference Room.

"All three of us knew without doubt that what we learned together at WMU had an enormous impact on our success in life," Pickard says. "I treasure the idea that future students will have an opportunity for the same kind of life-altering relationships, and I hope the three names on campus facilities become at least a small reminder of what can be."

The three men were classmates at WMU, and Pickard and Archer were roommates in Vandercook Hall. All three were members of the Epsilon Xi chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha, one of a handful of black fraternities at WMU. They maintained close ties with each other and with their alma mater over the years, even as they took on regional and national roles in their professions.

Photo of Williaim F. Pickard.


"The lifelong bonds these men nurtured over the years are exactly the kinds of connections we wish for all of our students," says WMU President John M. Dunn. "Trustee Pickard's gift and his desire to honor the people so critical throughout his life really illustrate the transformational power that comes from friendship, common goals and powerful learning experiences."

For Pickard, the new gift is one of several he has made to WMU. Other recent gifts include:

  • Endowed scholarships in honor of Hall and the late Charles C. Warfield, a WMU faculty member and president of the Kalamazoo chapter of the NAACP.
  • A $250,000 grant to launch a WMU Kalamazoo Public Schools Future Educators Program that provides five $5,000 scholarships annually to Kalamazoo Promise-eligible students planning to become teachers; and
  • A William F. Pickard Endowed Scholarship with preference given to members of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.

William F. Pickard

Pickard, who was honored in 1980 as a WMU Distinguished Alumnus, earned a bachelor's degree in sociology from WMU. He also earned a master's degree from the University of Michigan and a doctoral degree from Ohio State University. He has taught at U-M's Ross Business School and at Wayne State University.

A Bloomfield Hills resident, he is the chairman of the board of Global Automotive Alliance, which is based in Detroit. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder tapped Pickard in June 2016 to serve the remaining four years of Trustee Ronald Hall's term.

In 2002, Pickard was honored by the Detroit News as Michiganian of the Year for his mentorship of new entrepreneurs and his leadership at Global Automotive and with a variety of civic, community and business organizations. In 2010, Hour Detroit Magazine honored him as a Detroiter of the Year for leadership and philanthropy, particularly in the areas of the arts, education and entrepreneurship. Pickard is also a trustee of the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.

Western Heights

WMU's Western Heights opened in 2015 as an innovative residential living concept that makes a positive impact on student living by offering environmentally conscious features, socialization through purposeful use of public areas and abundant green space. The complex design is intended to build multiple levels of community engagement and facilitate academic success.

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