The Berkowitz Gallery hosted a 50-year reunion dinner on Oct. 9 to recognize the 1964, 1965 graduate classes.
The Berkowitz Gallery hosted a 50-year reunion dinner on Oct. 9 to recognize the 1964, 1965 graduate classes.
The Berkowitz Gallery hosted a 50-year reunion dinner on Oct. 9 to recognize the 1964, 1965 graduate classes. (Demetrio Nasol/MJ)

 

BY DANIELLE SUGAI, Staff Reporter

The University of Michigan – Dearborn hosted a 50-year Reunion Dinner on Friday, Oct. 9 to recognize graduates from the 1964 and 1965 classes.

Chancellor Daniel Little spoke at the event and presented all graduates in attendance with a commemorative 50th Golden Jubilee lapel pin. The event was held at the Mardigian Library in the Berkowitz Gallery.

“The best way of documenting the value of UM-D is the alumni — the men and women who have made an impact in our state and in our country,”  Chancellor Little said.  “We could not be prouder and could not be more grateful to you and the 49,575 other alumni from UM-D.”

Alumni in attendance reminisced about their time at the university and changes they’ve seen throughout the years, speaking to fellow graduates who shared their experiences and to current students.

“The campus has really changed a lot,” Sophie Marko Bryant, who graduated in 1962, said. The campus was brand new when we got here.“

“Back then there wasn’t really a campus — there were four buildings around the pond” Thomas Helsinki, who graduated in 1964 with a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering, remembered. “That was the original campus.”

Anthony Fielek, who also graduated in 1964 with a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering, remarked on the difference students now have with finances while attending school.

“When I graduated I had enough money put together to buy a new car,” Fielek said. “Talking to some students now, even engineering interns, they are having a hard time paying their bills.”

Fielek met his wife of 49 years, the late Dr. Carole Fielek, while attending UM-Dearborn, and the two subsequently established a scholarship program to aid students in the College of Engineering and Computer Science and in the School of Education.

Fielek went on to obtain his Master of Business Administration from Wayne State University, and his Juris Doctorate from Michigan State University.  

“I ended up retiring out of Robert Bosch Corporation after 14 years as the vice president of strategic planning,” Fielek said.

Both Helsinki and Fielek were a part of the co-op programs on campus and credited the program with seamlessly partnering them with work after graduation.

“It was an advantage to be a part of a co-op program because you got the experience before you got out of school,” Helsinki said.  

Helsinki worked for Ford Motor Company while part of the co-op and was hired after he graduated, working as an electrical supervisor for 28 years of his 30-year career.

Waseem Hijazi, a current software engineering student who is involved in the co-op program with Epitec and Ford was in attendance.  

“I heard about this opportunity to volunteer and speak with some of the alumni, and I thought it was a good chance to do so,” said Hijazi.

Graduates spoke highly about the professors and faculty at UM-Dearborn.

“I didn’t skip classes because I had such good professors, and thought ‘Why do I want to skip?’ I want to hear what they have to say,” Marko Bryant  said.

“It was a lot of fun — I loved going to school here. The professors here were wonderful,” said Dennis Fiems, a history major who graduated in 1965.

Fiems went on to teach at Oakland Community College – Highland Lakes for 42 years, and has been the only professor selected three times for Outstanding Campus Faculty.