KALAMAZOO—Dennis W. Archer, former Detroit mayor, a member of the Western Michigan University Board of Trustees and a 1965 WMU alumnus, will be honored this week during a sold-out gala in New York City for his lifetime of work as an advocate for the benefits of diversity.
Archer will be honored Tuesday, Sept. 11, with the 2012 Minority Corporate Counsel Association's Lifetime Achievement Award at an event slated for Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall. The gala is designed to honor the foremost corporate law departments and their diversity programs as well as individuals who have had a major impact in promoting diversity.
The MCCA Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to an individual "who has made important and lasting contributions to advancing a society that fully appreciates, celebrates and recognizes the value of diversity." The award was inaugurated in 2011, and its first recipient was civil rights pioneer and presidential advisor Vernon Jordan.
Archer is chairman and CEO of Dennis W. Archer PLLC and chairman emeritus of the Detroit law firm Dickinson Wright PLLC. In addition to his role on the WMU board, which he has held since 2005, he has served on the corporate boards of Johnson Controls Inc., Compuware Corp. and Masco Corp.
He is being honored for a lifetime of wide-ranging achievements that include service as mayor of Detroit from 1994 to 2001 and being the first African-American president of the American Bar Association. He served as a Michigan Supreme Court justice from 1985 to 1990, and in his final year on the bench, was named the most respected judge in the state by Michigan Lawyers Weekly.
"Dennis Archer has worked tirelessly in law, politics, business and education to create opportunities and improve the lives of countless Americans," said Joseph West, president and CEO of MCCA, in announcing Archer's selection as the recipient of this year's award. "His remarkable record of service and achievement has won him acclaim not only in Michigan but also across the nation. MCCA is honored to recognize him with the Lifetime Achievement Award."
After earning his law degree from the Detroit College of Law in 1970, Archer worked as a trial lawyer and partner in several Detroit firms, while also teaching as associate professor of the Detroit College of Law and adjunct professor at Wayne State University Law School.
Elected Detroit's mayor in 1994, Archer served two terms and earned widespread respect for his success in changing the city's image and direction. He served on the board of trustees of the U.S. Conference of Mayors and was president of the National League of Cities in 2000-01. He was named Public Official of the Year in 2000 by Governing magazine, and one of the 25 Most Dynamic Mayors in America by Newsweek magazine.
Archer received an Award of Excellence and was named 1998 Newsmaker of the Year by Engineering News-Record magazine, a sister publication of Business Week. He was also honored as one of the 100 Most Influential Black Americans by Ebony magazine, and one of the 100 Most Powerful Attorneys in the United States by the National Law Journal. He was a resident fellow at the Institute of Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in 2010.