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A Leap of Faith

This year Siena Heights celebrates the 40th anni-
versary of offering adult
degree-completion pro-
grams. From its humble beginnings in Southfield at a former elementary school (left), the pro-
gram now boasts more than 60 percent of all SHU graduates each year. The ultra-successful Bachelor of Applied Science degree graduated its first students (below) in the late 1970s and has made degree-completion a reality for students from all age groups and backgrounds, furthering the Siena Heights Mission in the process.

Concept of Educating Working Adults Turns into the College for Professional Studies

First CPS grads in the late 1970s.
First CPS grads in the late 1970s.

As the 1960s were known as a time for social experimentation in America, the 1970s had Siena Heights experiencing its own period of educational “counterculture.”

In 1970, then Siena Heights College had named its first lay president, Dr. Hugh Thompson, and was transitioning from all-female student body to a coeducational one. If that evolution wasn’t difficult enough, Thompson brought more of a business and career-focused educational approach to campus, ruffling feathers of some liberal arts-focused faculty and staff of the time.

Thompson’s vision included starting
associate’s degree programs that had a fingerprint more like a two-year technical college, not a private, Catholic, four-year institution. Yet some of these
programs not only survived, but grew and evolved. Soon, the unique Bachelor of Applied Science degree was born.
That degree became the “seed” that allowed Siena Heights to plant campuses around Michigan. First, in Southfield, then spreading to places like Benton Harbor, Battle Creek and Monroe.

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Rising Stars

“Rising Stars” is a regular feature in Reflections. It profiles Siena Heights alumni who have graduated within the past 10 years and who excel in their careers, occupations or community service accomplishments. To be considered for “Rising Stars” in an upcoming issue of Reflections, fill out the online form at Those who are selected to be included in an upcoming issue of the magazine will be contacted by the Reflections staff.

Larry Weeks

Graduation year: 2008, Adrian.

Current title/position: Chief of Police, Eaton Rapids, Mich.

What Larry is Doing: At the time he attended Siena Heights, he was the chief of Police for the City of Morenci. After graduation he added director of EMS to his title. He was a member and served as President of the Lenawee County
Police Chiefs Association, member and past president of the Morenci Kiwanis Club and delivery driver for Meals on Wheels. In 2013, he attended the Federal Bureau of Investigations National Academy at the bureau’s head-
quarters in Quantico, Va. In late 2013, he accepted a position as chief of Police for the City of Eaton Rapids.

My favorite moment/story while a student at Siena Heights was: “The assignment from World Religions class regarding research into religions, not my own. I met with individuals at a mosque in Ann Arbor and interviewed their community outreach person. It was extremely educational and enlightening.”

My favorite person at Siena Heights was: Judge Margaret Noe.

My ultimate goal in life is: “Great family, great job and lots of faith. I’m there.”

My best piece of advice for SHU students is: “Having attended SHU at a later stage in life, I would encourage others not to be afraid of returning to school late. Embrace the opportunities around you to grow and learn. It’s never too late.”

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From the Alumni Association:

Mary Small Poore, President—Alumni Association Board of Directors
Mary Small Poore, President—Alumni Association Board of Directors

My Final Reflection

With a deadline looming, I wondered how to pen my last Reflections article as President of the Siena Heights Alumni Association. Then I realized: my experiences in just the past month portrayed the story and essence of this University. As with any good story, the cast of characters is essential to the storyline. Allow me to share a few chapters of this Siena story and its people.

Chapter 1, Theatre Siena: My husband and I, plus 158 other Siena friends and alumni, shared a great evening in late March at the annual Alumni Dinner & Theater event. This affair, always a favorite of mine, exceeded all expectations. Dinner and decor in newly renovated Benincasa Hall was remarkable; and the musical that followed, “Chicago,” was one of the finest shows I’ve seen. Everything—acting, singing, choreography, music, set—was professional. Theatre Siena continues to produce exceptional talent; talent that, once it leaves our campus, goes into the community and far beyond.

Chapter 2, Academic Excellence: In April, I was honored to attend the first (and I hope annual) Scholarship Symposium. Students showcased research and academic achievements in all areas, sharing
their knowledge with faculty, staff and the community. It was a privilege to meet these students, feel their passion and see their hard work. The faculty and staff who guided and mentored these students should also feel great pride and satisfaction; they have instilled in their students a lifelong quest for knowledge. I feel sure that many more opportunities will come to these students thanks to the challenge provided by their instructors.

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