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DTE Energy Foundation contributes $25,000 to Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights

April 21, 2011

From left to right: Karla Hall, vice president of the DTE Energy Foundation, Hon. Damon J. Keith, Joyce Hayes Giles, senior vice president of Customer Service for DTE Energy, Jerry Norcia, president and chief operating officer of Michigan Consolidated Gas Company, and Wayne Law Dean Robert M. Ackerman.

DETROIT (April 21, 2011) – The DTE Energy Foundation presented a $25,000 check to Wayne State University Law School’s Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights at a reception last week. The gift was presented by event host Joyce Hayes Giles, DTE’s senior vice president of customer service and a Wayne State University Law School alumna. Judge Damon J. Keith, LL.M. ’56, was present to accept the gift on behalf of the Keith Center.

DTE’s gift is in response to A. Alfred Taubman’s $200,000 challenge grant, which guarantees a match for each gift received by July 2011 for the construction of the Keith Center, up to a total of $200,000. According to Keith Center Director Peter Hammer, approximately $75,000 of the $5.7 million budget is still needed to complete funding for building, which honors the life and legacy of Judge Keith by carrying out his vision for civil rights.

“We are very grateful for DTE's generous support,” Hammer said. “This gift is an important milestone in our meeting Mr. Taubman's matching challenge for the new Keith Center building. Support for the Keith Center is really an investment in the future of Detroit. The Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights is committed to fighting for justice and opportunity for all our citizens.”

The Keith Center will advance learning, attract talented faculty, students and lecturers, enhance programming, and promote civil rights in one of the most culturally rich and diverse cities in the United States. The Keith Center will have active programs of legal studies and will promote community engagement. The 10,000-square-foot building will feature an exhibit area, meeting space, conference space and a 60-seat lecture hall. An exhibit area featuring Judge Keith’s life and work and focusing on civil rights will also serve as a reception area for the Law School’s clinics.

Wayne Law broke ground on the Keith Center on May 17, 2010. The groundbreaking ceremony was attended by more than 600 guests, including Judge Keith, U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., U.S. Congressman John Conyers Jr., former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, Detroit Mayor Dave Bing, Edsel B. Ford II, A. Alfred Taubman, WSU Board of Governors members, former WSU President Jay Noren and Wayne Law Dean Robert M. Ackerman, among many others. Judge Keith chose to have the ceremony on May 17 as the date coincided with the 56th anniversary of the historic Brown v. Board of Education ruling that declared separate schools for blacks and whites unconstitutional. The building will be completed in fall 2011.

“Partly through curriculum and partly through special programs and lectures, [the Keith Center] will heighten awareness of civil rights in both the Law School and in the broader community and, of course, honor the legacy of Judge Damon Keith,” said Dean Robert M. Ackerman in a Model D article. “Civil rights is a major portion of the legal training of our students.”

To contribute to the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights, please contact Wayne State University Law School Development Officer Michael Silverstein at (313) 577-9238 or silverstein@wayne.edu.

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Wayne State University is a premier urban research university offering more than 400 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 32,000 students.

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