Each year, University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry celebrates a group of people who distinguish themselves by donating $1,000 or more to the school.
We call them the Dean’s Circle.
This generous group of donors is the center of Detroit Mercy Dental’s annual fund program. In exchange for their generosity, members receive recognition at events, an extra communication or two from the dean and, on occasion, a piece of school memorabilia.
The Dean’s Circle members also receive the first phone calls when our students have a special or emergency need. And
that is exactly what happened, shortly after the School shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
After we closed the dental school in March, it became apparent that some of our students would be in financial trouble.
“Our dental students are on very tight budgets,” said Juliette Daniels, Ed.D., assistant dean of Student Services &
Enrollment Management. “Having to adjust for remote learning and dealing with a delay in their education created a
precarious and challenging financial situation. The University implemented distribution of resources from the
CARES Act and our financial aid coordinator, Angela Orlando, worked hard to modify financial aid packages to
fill in gaps created by pandemic closures. However, it was clear the needs of our students exceeded available funds. We
called development Director Tom Sklut, to ask for help supporting our students and he went to work raising the money
that was needed.”
Sklut called on members of the Dean’s Circle. A lead donor offered to match contributions over $1,000. In addition
to personal phone calls, Sklut also sent an email solicitation to Dean’s Circle members. Within 10 days, 29 donors
had contributed $67,070 to the Dental School COVID-19 Emergency Fund.
“The generosity of the Dean’s Circle allowed us to move quickly to fill the emergency need of our students,” said
Dean Mert N. Aksu. “We are grateful. These alumni and friends provide an outstanding base of support each year
and never fail to enable us to overcome challenges and maintain our position as one of the most respected dental
schools in the country.”