DETROIT -- Construction has begun on a state-of-the-art Science and Engineering Center at the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy. When completed in August 2016, it will be the first and only high school facility of its kind in Detroit. It also represents the largest dollar investment in science and technology at any Michigan high school in recent years.
The four-level, 40,000-square-foot STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) center addition to the existing high school will double the space for biology, chemistry and physics programs, and provide labs for engineering and research, as well as for the school's nationally recognized eco-car and robotics programs. It also will include a dedicated classroom and laboratory for seventh- and eighth-grade academy students.
"Equipping our young men to be tomorrow's leaders and innovators begins right here, right now in Detroit, where we continue the 450-year-old Jesuit tradition of academic rigor and critical thinking," said school President Karl J. Kiser, S.J. "Every day, faith and science converge as we challenge our students to reach for excellence while reaching out to serve others."
Kiser noted that Pope Francis – a Jesuit – has a graduate degree in chemistry and taught in two Jesuit high schools.
UDJ alumni from around the world attended Tuesday's groundbreaking, including Dr. Otis W. Brawley, a 1977 graduate, chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society and professor, Emory University School of Medicine; and Vatican astronomer Guy Consolmagno S.J., a 2014 Carl Sagan Award recipient and 1970 graduate. The emcee was Stephen E. Henderson, a 1988 graduate, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and editorial page editor of the Detroit Free Press.
"It is extremely likely that many future cancer breakthroughs will be developed by students entering high school today," said Brawley. "When we invest in science education, we give young people the opportunity to change the world by healing others."
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Harvey Hollins III, director of Gov. Rick Snyder's Office of Urban Initiatives, also attended.
"Our city and state need scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs to continue to fuel Detroit's economic growth," said Duggan. "I applaud U of D Jesuit's commitment to providing young men in the City of Detroit with access to a world-class education and the opportunity to make a difference for the rest of their lives."
UDJ is the largest and oldest of the three Catholic high schools in Detroit. The Science and Engineering Center is the largest addition to the UDJ campus since the main school building was constructed on West Seven Mile Road in 1930. The original high school was built on Jefferson Avenue, near where the General Motors Renaissance Center stands today.
UDJ enrolls 900 diverse young men in grades seven-12, with 20 percent of the student body residing in Detroit. A third of the students receive $1.7 million annually in tuition assistance, and 28 percent of students are non-Catholic.
Its students achieve among the highest average ACT scores (26.2 out of 36) in the state, and every graduating UDJ senior is accepted at a college or university. Three members of the 2015 class are attending military service academies this fall.