Alumni, Donors, and Friends

Sooch Village

Navdeep Sooch (’82, B.S.E.E.E.) is the co-founder of Silicon Laboratories, a mixed-signal chip design company headquartered in Austin, Texas.

Sooch was born in Punjab, India, and at the age of 10 moved to the Detroit area.  In 1982, he graduated from the University of Michigan-Dearborn and then received an MSE from Stanford University in 1983.

Earlier this year, Sooch made a gift of $700,000 to The Miracle Foundation to build an orphanage in India.  The Miracle Foundation was established in 2000 to empower orphans to reach their full potential, one child at a time.  The organization, founded and managed by Caroline Boudreaux, is licensed for adoptions and has opened five orphanages in India. 

Sooch Village is a community of 20 free-standing cottages, which will include a soccer field-sized playground, gardens and a domestic adoption center.  Each cottage will house 10 orphans, who will be raised in an intimate, loving family environment and receive individual attention from their house mothers.

Sooch Village already houses over 200 orphans mostly aged four and above.  Sooch believes that education can be the single biggest factor in an individual reaching a level of full self-sufficiency.  “I think it’s critical that everyone who wants to better themselves have the opportunity to do that,” said Sooch.

Gift in Honor of Helen Graves to Support Interns

“You are the story,” Helen Mataya Graves, associate professor emerita, wrote in a 1994 letter to her former students, alumni of the campus’s political internship program.  “Each of you has made and will continue to make a difference. You are great ambassadors for higher education from Michigan as you take your place in politics, the law, business, education and the life of the  community.”

The establishment of a scholarship in Graves’ honor with a $10,000 gift from her youngest son, John D. Graves, will perpetuate her passion for her students. The Helen Mataya Graves Political Science Internships Scholarship Fund will provide support for students in the campus’s public affairs internship programs.  Graves worked with more than 1,700 student interns during her 22 years at UM-Dearborn.  Starting in 1972, in addition to teaching political science courses, Graves led the campus’s political internship program which provided students with hands-on work in the political system. Through this program, Graves initiated placements in the private sector as well as legislative and legal offices in Lansing, Detroit and other southeastern Michigan cities.

In 1979, she inaugurated a summer internship program in Washington. Her most impressive achievement was the organization of comparative political internships in Toronto and Ottawa. “We teach our students the separation-of-powers model, but right next door to Michigan is  Canada, a parliamentary model,” she said.  “Internships open up a new world for students. Some get jobs from the experience.  Sometimes they learn what they don’t want to do with their lives. This also is a way of relating the University to the greater community by providing a talent pool available to the political system,” Graves said.

Alumnus Robert Kelley remembers when he first met Graves in 1975 at a political meeting.  “Helen was brief, articulate, and right on with the study of political science in 1975,” Kelley said. “I was sold and signed up as a political science major at UM-Dearborn. She offered such a  commitment and such inspiration!  Helen decided that this Detroit commuter student--me--should become a major part of the political system and that if I didn’t, then I was wasting talent! The words to describe her are ‘mentor’ and ‘visionary.’”  Kelley now works as a federal employment law attorney in Washington, serving as a mediator of federal employment disputes. 

“Helen was amazing. She would walk up and down the halls grabbing students. She would say, ‘Why haven’t you signed up for the internship? It will change your life. I want you in my office at 3 p.m.’ and they would come,” according to political science Prof. Ronald Stockton.  “They joked at how she hovered over them like a mother hen, but they loved her.  They knew she was truly in their corner and was pushing them for their own benefit. In the surveys we have done of our graduates, Helen’s internship is mentioned by many as a turning point in their lives.” 

Graves, who retired from UM-Dearborn in 1995, was hired to work on the Ann Arbor campus as a visiting associate professor and director of political internship programs until 2005. She directed the Michigan program and the Ottawa program in the Canadian House of Commons for the Ann Arbor campus.  She now lives in Rhode Island. 

Among many other awards, her efforts merited a tribute read on the floor of the Canadian House of Commons in recognition of 17 years of work organizing the programs in Toronto and Ottawa. In addition, she was appointed to a three-year term on the Fulbright Program for Canadian awards. Former Gov. James Blanchard appointed Graves to the Michigan Women’s Commission for two consecutive three-year terms. Her work with interns also was honored by resolutions from both the Michigan House and Senate.  Graves organized the first “Women, Politics and the Law” course at UM-Dearborn in 1974, as well as the first women’s studies minor. She was the co-organizer of the UM-Dearborn Women’s Commission.  Other honors include the campus’s Susan B. Anthony Award in 1980; the Sarah Goddard Power Award from U-M’s Academic Women’s Caucus in 1989; and the Outstanding Service Award from UM-Dearborn in 1993. Graves also served as the first woman president of the Michigan Conference of Political Science in 1970.  Graves received her bachelor’s degree at Southern Illinois University, her master’s at the University of Minnesota, and her doctoral degree at Wayne State University at age 50.

For information about the Helen Mataya Graves Political Science Internships Scholarship Fund, contact Diane Gulyas, CASL director of development, at 593-5504; or via e-mail at  dmgul@umd.umich.edu.

Alumnus Gives Back and Urges Others To Do the Same

CASL's Distinguished Alumnus of the Year, Jim Barton, has started a new scholarship fund to support students with disabilities.  Read the full story here.

Stamelos Gallery to Feature Michigan Artists

Painter Electra Stamelos was a tremendous influence on the hundreds of students who
studied with her at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. And her paintings, found in collections around the region and across the country, have affected many thousands more.

Now her influence will continue to have an impact thanks to a leadership gift by her husband, William, to establish a gallery devoted to works by Michigan artists at UM-Dearborn.

Stamelos, who died in 2007, was wellknown for her watercolors, acrylics and pastels
featuring natural imagery and exhibited in numerous galleries and shows. For many years, she was a lecturer in fine and applied arts at UM-Dearborn and director of art exhibitions and collections for the campus.  “I like my work to reflect or express the exuberance and challenges of life, as I feel or see them,” she wrote. “I choose the positive, hopeful and beautiful aspects. My art is a heightened absorption of formal criteria such as light, color and form—an intensification of nature and my reaction to it.”

William Stamelos has pledged $1.3 million in cash and a bequest to UM-Dearborn to
create the William and Electra Stamelos Gallery on the campus. The gallery is planned as part of an art museum and performance space in the former Recreation and Organizations Center. The total renovation project is estimated to cost approximately $5 million.

William Stamelos is a retired Ford Motor Co. engineer; he lives in the home the couple shared in Livonia. “The Stamelos gift will serve as a leadership challenge to inspire other donors to support a two-year effort to raise the money necessary to initiate and complete the renovation,” according to Tom Baird, vice chancellor for institutional advancement at UM-Dearborn.

Electra Stamelos studied art at Detroit’s Wayne State University and Eastern Michigan University. She also studied at Detroit’s Society of Arts and Crafts, which is now the College for Creative Studies. In addition, she received a scholarship to the National Art School and the Corcoran Museum School in Washington. Her works are included in numerous corporate and museum collections and have been published in books and art magazines. She also was active in numerous professional associations and served as president of the Watercolor USA Honor Society and the Michigan Watercolor Society.

“Electra Stamelos had a lot of ‘best friends,’” according to longtime friend Joseph Marks, curator of collections and exhibitions at UM-Dearborn. Marks and Stamelos studied painting together at Wayne, and remained friends for more than 40 years, often exhibiting their works in the same shows and galleries. “She could talk on many subjects, but it always came back to art; that was her passion.” Marks also became friends with William Stamelos. “She was very fortunate to have had such a loving and supportive spouse for over 50 years,” Marks said. “Bill helped Electra with her career as a professional artist in many ways, by photographing her work, getting her works framed, and transporting her works to and from many exhibitions. He was definitely a positive force in her life and career.” Some of Electra Stamelos’ works are shown in her “virtual gallery” at www.electrastamelos.com.

New Scholarship Fund

A new fund, named in honor of Shirley Dudek Demmer, will support students studying women's and gender studies.  Read the full story.