Debt Forgiveness Programs Coming To Three Major Colleges In Metro Detroit

April 30, 2019

WWJ News Radio


Both Wayne State University and Oakland University are willing to waive up to $1,500 off of the debt owed, while Henry Ford College will forgive up to one half of a students debt.

Detroit Regional Chamber Vice-President Greg Handel says they want to improve the region’s post-secondary attainment rate, which now stands at 40 percent.

“We wanted to being a survey of our business members in the near future,” said Handle, “to start to find out what kind practices they have in place in terms of tuition support for their employees, and encourage more companies to offer tuition supports and other kind of supports to help their employees to get degrees.”

Wayne State has used a debt forgiveness program called ‘Warrior Way Back’ which has benefitted the 100 or so students involved, leaving University President M. Roy Wilson encouraged.

“I think that once it’s up to scale, said Wilson, “that it could be thousands, maybe tens of thousands of students, could benefit.”

View the full article here

Legislative Update: Raise the Age Bill Passes the House, New Energy and Environment Committee Chair, and New Michigan Voting Rights

Raise the Age Bill Passes the House This Week

The Chamber is a longstanding supporter for juvenile detainment reform. A package of 16 bills that raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction from 17 to 18 was recently passed in the House. The Senate adopted a similar package. Under these changes, 17-year-olds are subject to the juvenile justice system instead of state prisons. This legislation changes Michigan statute so that minors currently entrapped in the penal system can instead receive age appropriate rehabilitation and then participate in Michigan’s workforce without the disadvantage of a criminal record.

Detroit Regional Chamber’s Energy and Environment Committee Announces New Chair

On Thursday, April 18 the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Energy and Environment Committee met at the Chamber’s offices to hear from the new director of the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) and to announce the new committee chair.

Liesl Clark, the director of EGLE gave a presentation to the committee on the new department’s priorities, including placing a greater emphasis on water quality, lead pipe replacements, protection of the Great Lakes, air quality, and PFAs, environmentally harmful compounds found in many electronic, and apparel products.

Following this discussion, chairman Abed Houssari of DTE Energy announced his retirement. The Chamber would like to thank Houssari for his experience, insight, and leadership over these past eight years as chairman. Following Houssari’s retirement, Nick Ramos of General Motors was named the new chair of the committee, and a new position-vice chair-has been introduced. Fadi Maroud of DTE Energy will fill this new position. Congratulations to both Ramos and Maroud on their designations.

Learn About the New Rights for Michigan Voters

During the November 2018 election, a ballot was passed that outlined new voting rights for Michigan voters. These new rights include the ability to register to vote through election day and the ability to vote early without any reason. Download this flyer to learn more about these new voting rights and how to register to vote.

Walsh Alumnus Wins Elijah Watt Sells Award

Award Recognizes Outstanding CPA Exam Performance

TROY, Mich., April 30, 2019 — Walsh alumnus Christopher D’Agostino has been awarded the Elijah Watt Sells Award by the American Institute of CPAs. The award recognizes 2018’s top 110 CPA exam performers out of approximately 86,000 test-takers. D’Agostino is one of only three CPA candidates in Michigan to earn the distinction.

The Elijah Watt Sells Award annually recognizes individuals who score a cumulative average score above 95.50 across all four sections of the CPA exam and pass all four sections on the first attempt. It was founded in 1923 and is named for one of the first CPAs is the United States.

”To simply pass the CPA exam is a career milestone, but winning the Elijah Watt Sells Award is truly a remarkable accomplishment,” said John Black, CPA, CMA, CIA, Chair and Associate Professor of Accounting at Walsh. “We are proud to have had this bright young professional as a student at Walsh. We wish him the very best in his career and look forward to many successes in the future.”

D’Agostino earned his Bachelor of Accountancy from Walsh in 2017 and is currently employed at Rehmann. “I would not have been able to accomplish this feat without the education and tools I received at Walsh,” he said.

For information about Walsh programs, visit


Walsh is an all-business, private, independent, not-for-profit, fully accredited college offering undergraduate and graduate business and technology degrees, as well as certificate programs. Founded in 1922, Walsh is one of the region’s largest business schools and Michigan’s third largest graduate business school, offering classes in several locations as well as online. Our nationally ranked programs integrate theory and application to prepare graduates for successful careers. Walsh degree programs include accounting, finance, information technology, management, marketing, taxation and other fields. For more information, please visit

Walsh is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission ( and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools & Programs (

Plunkett Cooney elects officers to board of directors

At a recent meeting of the board of directors of Plunkett Cooney, one of the Midwest’s oldest and largest law firms, three members were elected to officer positions. Partners Michael S. Bogren, Michael P. Ashcraft Jr. and Audrey J. Forbush were elected to one-year terms as chairman, secretary/treasurer and senior vice president, respectively.

Ashcraft, who serves as a co-leader of Plunkett Cooney’s Professional Liability Practice Group, is one of the state’s leading professional liability attorneys. He concentrates his practice primarily on the defense of attorneys and accountants in malpractice claims. A partner in the firm’s Bloomfield Hills office, he also represents insurance brokers and agents, securities brokers, real estate brokers and agents, investment advisors, officers and directors, and notaries public in professional liability cases in state and federal courts.

Admitted to state and federal courts in Michigan and Nebraska, Ashcraft graduated, cum laude, from Michigan State University College of Law in 1992. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan in 1987. Ashcraft is a member of the Oakland County Bar Association’s Negligence Section, the State Bar of Michigan’s Professional Ethics Committee and the American Bar Association’s Committee on Professional Responsibility and Liability.

Bogren, who is the managing partner of Plunkett Cooney’s Kalamazoo office, has been a member of the firm’s board of directors since 2003, serving as chair since 2012. He is a member of Plunkett Cooney’s Governmental Law Practice Group, and he focuses his practice in the areas of municipal law, civil rights and labor and employment law.

A 1982 cum laude graduate of University of Detroit School of Law, Bogren has extensive experience representing municipalities in both state and federal court claims involving police liability, due process matters, first amendment issues, Michigan Open Meetings and Freedom of Information Act violations, zoning disputes and employment law.

The managing partner of Plunkett Cooney’s Flint office, Audrey J. Forbush focuses her practice primarily in the area of municipal liability with particular expertise in police pursuits, excessive force, civil rights, whistleblower claims, labor and employment issues, zoning and personal injury. In addition to her municipal practice, Forbush has extensive experience in the area of professional liability where she routinely defends physicians and hospitals in malpractice claims.

Forbush is a member of the public corporation section of the Michigan and the Genesee County bar associations, and s serves as legal advisor to the Law Enforcement Action Forum, an organization consisting of select law enforcement executives throughout the state of Michigan. Forbush received her law degree, magna cum laude, from the Western Michigan University Cooley Law School in 1988 and her undergraduate degree from Central Michigan University in 1984.

Established in 1913, Plunkett Cooney is a leading provider of transactional and litigation services to clients in the private and public sectors. The firm employs approximately 150 attorneys in eight Michigan cities, Chicago, Illinois, Columbus, Ohio and Indianapolis, Indiana. Plunkett Cooney has achieved the highest rating (AV) awarded by Martindale-Hubbell, a leading, international directory of law firms. The firm was also recently selected by Crain’s Detroit Business as its inaugural Law Firm of the Year.

For more information about Plunkett Cooney’s newly-elected board officers, contact the firm’s Director of Marketing & Business Development John Cornwell at (248) 901-4008 or via email at


New Program To Help Former Students Eliminate Debt While Finishing Degrees and Certificates

Announcement and panel discussion at Lumina Foundation’s National Convening
April 30, 2019

Detroit Regional Chamber and three institutions expand debt forgiveness footprint to remove barriers to finishing degrees and embark on first-of-its-kind program. 

DETROIT, April 30, 2019 – Today, the Detroit Regional Chamber with higher education institution partners Henry Ford College (HFC), Oakland University (OU), and Wayne State University (WSU) announced an innovative new program that will remove a primary barrier to degree completion for thousands of adults in the Detroit region.

The program targets the 693,000 adults across the Detroit region with college credits, but no degree, by offering debt forgiveness of previously incurred educational debt at WSU, OU and HFC provided that students enroll at any of these three institutions, remain current on their new higher education financial obligations, and make progress towards degree or certificate completion.

This effort is part of the Detroit Regional Chamber’s region-wide goal to improve the postsecondary attainment rate from 40% to 60% by 2030. Targeting the 693,000 adults with some college but no degree is a prime opportunity to progress toward the 60% goal.

WSU, OU and HFC have jointly agreed to the following principles:

1. Unlimited. There is no cap to the number of students that can participate.
2. Flexible. Both community college (maximum debt forgiveness of one half of total outstanding student debt) and four-year university programs (maximum $1,500 of debt forgiveness) included.
3. Reciprocity. Participating institutions agree to share academic transcripts with other participating institutions for students enrolled in the program, if students agree to enroll in a payment plan.

“One of the most effective ways to increase our region’s education attainment level is to remove barriers to those adults who already have some college credits to be able to complete their degree or certificate program. This multi-institution debt forgiveness program will be an important element of moving our region’s educational attainment rate to the 60% goal,” noted Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Chamber.
WSU’s debt forgiveness program, Warrior Way Back, announced last spring will now be integrated into this multi-institutional regional effort.

“Since Wayne State University announced our groundbreaking ‘Warrior Way Back’ debt-forgiveness initiative last year, higher education institutions across the country have sought to implement similar programs, but Detroit is the first to develop a community-wide partnership,” said M. Roy Wilson, president of Wayne State University. “We know that today’s students are more diverse than ever, and this partnership is a powerful tool for promoting greater educational equity.”

OU will begin its debt-forgiveness initiative, Golden Grizzlies Graduate program, later this spring. The program will increase access, affordability and opportunity in three ways: connecting with students who have outstanding debt; incentivizing students who do not have debt and want to come back to school; and, offering grants to current students who have debt.

“The challenge is to create responsive ways to support students as they decide on how best to deal with debt and other issues that may be obstacles in completing their degrees,” said Oakland University President Ora Hirsch Pescovitz. “These three types of grants assist with students in debt and offer ways for current students – who have loans – to manage their debt.”

HFC has a history of offering debt forgiveness opportunities to students, and has found success in student persistence, awards conferred, and student transfers. Between 2013 and 2017, more than 83% of debt-forgiveness students persisted through at least one semester, and more than 50% completed an HFC credential or transferred to another institution to pursue additional education.

“Two of our core goals at Henry Ford College are reducing barriers to educational access, and connecting students with meaningful career paths,” said Russell Kavalhuna, president of Henry Ford College. “When we implemented a debt-forgiveness program six years ago, many students successfully completed their HFC programs and transferred to other universities. This new partnership will further strengthen our university and industry connections, support student degree attainment, and help create the future workforce Michigan needs.”

Individuals with debt from any of these participating institutions should go to to fill out the Reconnect Form and will hear from a representative to help you navigate. The Chamber is doing ongoing outreach to additional institutions in the region to create a broader footprint of regional institutions that are willing to participate and create their own debt forgiveness program. Interested institutions should contact Melanie D’Evelyn at

Because of the Chamber’s momentum around education attainment, Lumina Foundation and The Kresge Foundation designated Detroit a ‘Talent Hub’ last year. The designation is part of a larger collective impact effort in the works to increase postsecondary attainment in the region.


Media Contacts:
Detroit Regional Chamber: Kelly Weatherwax, 313.596.0360,
Henry Ford College: Rhonda DeLong, 313.317.6800,
Oakland University: Frank Provenzano, 248.370.3645,
Wayne State University: Katie McMillan, 313-577-8094,

Ford Motor Company’s Comprehensive Approach to Addressing the Opioid Crisis

Michigan ranks 10th among states for opioid prescriptions and 18th for opioid-related deaths. The opioid crisis does not discriminate; it affects families of all socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds, and ultimately impacts employers’ bottom line.

The Detroit Regional Chamber recently interviewed Jerry Carson, UAW International Coordinator for Ford Motor Company. Carson was asked what Ford is doing to address the opioid crisis in the workplace, and what advice he would give similar companies seeking to provide resources to employees.

“UAW-Ford has developed and delivered an opioid, opiate, and heroin epidemic awareness campaign, titled the ‘UAW-Ford Campaign of Hope.’” said Carson. “We deliver the campaign to UAW-Ford work locations and to the surrounding community via UAW-Ford Campaign of Hope town hall meetings that usually take place in local UAW union halls.”

The UAW-Ford Campaign of Hope consists of the following components:

  1. Education and information that clearly shows that addiction is a chronic brain disease and should be treated as such.
  2. Treatment providers share information on accessing treatment programs and resources.
  3. A long-term recovering addict shares their personal story of overcoming addiction, regaining control, and living a rewarding life.
  4. A toolkit for employees including: drug deactivation kits to safely dispose of unused pain medication, locking bags that are to be used to secure medication, and a list of NARCAN workshops employees can sign up for. These workshops are hosted in partnership with organizations including the County Department of Mental Health, Families Against Narcotics, Unite to Face Addiction Michigan, Deaths Avoided With NARCAN, and Kentucky Harm Reduction Coalition.

“The first step is to get educated on the disease of addiction. The second step is to build relationships with organizations in your community that offer treatment programs, resources, and tools.” said Carson when asked for tips and resources to provide to other companies struggling to address this issue.

If you or someone you know is struggling with opioid addiction, contact one of these organizations for immediate help:

  • Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority
    • Website:
    • Phone number: 800-241-4949
  • Families Against Narcotics
    • Email:
    • Phone number: 586-438-8500
  • Unite To Face Addiction Michigan
    • Website:
    • Phone number: 810-360-5779

Walsh Launches Brand New Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree Programs

TROY, Mich., April 29, 2019 — Walsh is introducing two new degree programs for the fall 2019 semester, a Bachelor of Science in Applied Management (BSAM) and a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership (MSOL). The programs are a direct response to industry demands for a bachelor’s completion program for individuals with an associate of applied science degree and a master’s degree program focused solely on leadership.

The BSAM offers core business knowledge for people without a business background to advance their career or move into management. Applicants must hold an associate of applied science degree to enroll. The MSOL provides a deep exploration of leadership from a variety of perspectives and is expected to draw students from a wide range of professional backgrounds and industries. Both the BSAM and the MSOL can be completed entirely online or as a hybrid program blending online and on-ground instruction at Walsh’s Troy location.

“We worked closely with our industry advisors to develop the Bachelor of Science in Applied Management and Master of Science in Organizational Leadership,” said Michael Rinkus, executive vice president and chief academic officer at Walsh. “More than 85% of Walsh alumni are living and working in Michigan. These programs will help Walsh continue to contribute to economic growth and talent retention in southeast Michigan and beyond.”

For information about Walsh degree programs, visit


Walsh is an all-business, private, independent, not-for-profit, fully accredited college offering undergraduate and graduate business and technology degrees, as well as certificate programs. Founded in 1922, Walsh is one of the region’s largest business schools and Michigan’s third largest graduate business school, offering classes in several locations as well as online. Our nationally ranked programs integrate theory and application to prepare graduates for successful careers. Walsh degree programs include accounting, finance, information technology, management, marketing, taxation and other fields. For more information, please visit

Walsh is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission ( and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools & Programs (

Dykema Named a Diversity & Inclusion Leader by Lawyers of Color

Dykema, a leading national law firm, announced that Lawyers of Color named the Firm one if it’s Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Leaders. As published in the Black Student’s Guide to Law Schools & Firms, Dykema is ranked 38th amongst large law firms with 4.85 percent black attorneys.

According to Lawyers of Color, the D&I Leader designation is presented to law firms with a black attorney percentage of 3.8 percent or more based on data collected in the Black Student’s Guide to Law Schools & Firms, the first ever comprehensive listing of black attorney percentages at nearly 400 law firms, including the nation’s largest firms.

About Lawyers of Color

Lawyers of Color is a 501(c)(3) devoted to promoting diversity in the legal profession and advancing democracy and equality in marginalized communities. It conducts and commissions research and studies regarding the intersection of the legal profession and social justice. It also creates and curates articles, blogs, studies, and videos. Its global online community advocates for the well-being of marginalized communities. It mobilizes to eradicate injustice. It gives change agents a vehicle to respond quickly and forcefully to oppressive and damaging policies and systems. It motivates business, political, and community leaders to effect change and advance equality.

About Dykema

Dykema serves business entities worldwide on a wide range of complex legal issues. Dykema lawyers and other professionals in 13 U.S. offices work in close partnership with clients – from start-ups to Fortune 100 companies – to deliver outstanding results, unparalleled service and exceptional value in every engagement.

Chambers USA Ranks 17 Dykema Attorneys and 10 Practices in 2019 Edition

Dykema, a leading national law firm, announced that 17 attorneys from multiple offices and practice areas received individual rankings and 10 practice areas have been recognized in the 2019 edition of Chambers USA: America’s Leading Lawyers for Business guide.

Published annually, Chambers has been ranking the best law firms and lawyers since 1990, and now cover 185 jurisdictions throughout the world. Chambers ranks both lawyers and law firms based on the investigations of more than 200 researchers who conduct in-depth confidential interviews with lawyers and clients.

Chambers USA recognized the following Dykema practices:

USA – Nationwide
• Product Liability & Mass Torts
District of Columbia
• Insurance: Insurer
• Real Estate
• Banking & Finance
• Corporate/M&A
• Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation
• Labor & Employment
• Litigation: General Commercial
• Real Estate
• Bankruptcy/Restructuring

Chambers USA recognized the following Dykema attorneys, as identified by jurisdiction and practice area:
USA – Nationwide
• Lance Boldrey—Native American Law
District of Columbia
• Lewis K. Loss—Insurance: Insurer
• Thomas J. Judge— Insurance: Insurer
• Michael S. Kurtzon—Real Estate
• J. Michael Bernard—Corporate/M&A
• Robert A. Boonin—Labor & Employment
• Amy M. Christen—Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation
• Adam M. Fishkind—Real Estate
• James P. Feeney—Litigation: General Commercial
• Dennis M. Haffey—Litigation: General Commercial
• Kyle R. Hauberg—Real Estate
• Margaret Adams Hunter—Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation
• Jin-Kyu Koh—Corporate/M&A
• Cameron H. Piggott—Real Estate
• Thomas S. Vaughn—Corporate/M&A
• Mark E. Andrews—Bankruptcy/Restructuring
• Deborah D. Williamson—Bankruptcy/Restructuring

Butzel Long attorney Bernard (Bernie) Fuhs elected to firm’s Board of Directors

DETROIT, Mich. – Butzel Long attorney and shareholder Bernard (Bernie) J. Fuhs, has been elected to serve on the firm’s Board of Directors.

Fuhs is a nationally recognized expert on non-compete and trade secret matters, having litigated and/or counseled clients on such matters in all 50 states and has presented to many national and local business and/or legal organizations regarding the same.

Fuhs also has considerable experience in franchise litigation, minority shareholder oppression disputes, financial services industry disputes {including proceedings with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)}, real estate, sales representative matters and cannabis law (licensing and appeals). He advises start-up and closely held businesses, as well as sports and fitness industry members.

Fuhs has been selected as a Business Litigation, Trade Secret and Franchise Top Lawyer by DBusiness Magazine. He has been named as a Michigan Super Lawyer
(an award recognized no more than 2.5% of lawyers in Michigan) every year since 2013.

He was named to Crain’s Detroit Business’ “40 under 40” class, which honors “the best and brightest in Southeast Michigan who have made their marks in business before age 40.” Fuhs was named to L. Brooks Patterson’s Elite 40 Under 40 Class of 2013, which includes young thought leaders and trailblazers who live or work in Oakland County and are under the age of 40.

Fuhs serves as Co-Chair of Butzel Long’s Diversity & Recruiting Committee and Chair of the firm’s Franchise Specialty Team. He also is a member of the firm’s Non-Compete and Trade Secret Specialty Team.

Fuhs is a graduate of the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law (J.D., magna cum laude, 2006) and the University of Detroit Mercy (B.S., summa cum laude, 2003). He interned for Chief Justice Maura Corrigan of the Michigan Supreme Court; he was a four-year player on the Division 1 Men’s Basketball team at UDM; President of the 2nd Year Class at UDM School of Law; on Law Review; a member of the Justice Frank Murphy Honor Society; and a member of Beta Gamma Sigma and Beta Alpha Psi.

He also enjoyed many honors as an undergraduate including the following: Captain of 2002/2003 UDM Division 1 Men’s Basketball Team; the Wall Street Journal Award – Top Student in the UDM College of Business Administration; the Financial Executives International Award – most outstanding undergraduate student in Accounting and Finance; the Beta Alpha Psi Award – highest scholastic average in undergraduate program; member of the All Horizon League Athletic Academic Team – (2002/2003); the President’s and Horizon League Honor Roll all four years; and the William Ebben Award for athletic and academic excellence. He was on the Dean’s list all years attended at UDM and UDM School of Law, and received the Cavanaugh scholarship at UDM School of Law.

Fuhs is a member of the State Bar of Michigan; American Bar Association – Employment Rights and Responsibilities Section Member and Non-Compete/Trade Secret Subcommittee Member; and, American Bar Association (Forum on Franchising).
Fuhs is a graduate of Leadership Oakland – Class XXIII. He also is a member of the University of Detroit-Mercy School of Law Alumni – Board of Directors and Sheriff Oakland County PAL Program – Board of Directors.
Fuhs is a highly sought-after speaker and presenter.

About Butzel Long

Butzel Long is one of the leading law firms in Michigan and the United States. It was founded in Detroit in 1854 and has provided trusted client service for more than 160 years. Butzel’s full-service law offices are located in Detroit, Bloomfield Hills, Lansing and Ann Arbor, Mich.; New York, NY; and, Washington, D.C., as well as alliance offices in Beijing and Shanghai. It is an active member of Lex Mundi, a global association of 160 independent law firms. Learn more by visiting or follow Butzel Long on Twitter @butzel_long or :