Alumnus keeps Detroit Mercy history in the present

It was this photo of the McNichols Campus under construction that inspired Ken Tash '78 to start his Facebook group dedicated to University of Detroit Mercy history.
It was this photo of the McNichols Campus under construction that inspired Ken Tash ’78 to start his Facebook group dedicated to University of Detroit Mercy history.

University of Detroit Mercy has a rich and varied history — and one alumnus has made it his mission to keep it alive.

Tash wears his University of Detroit Alumni shirt.
Tash wears his University of Detroit Alumni shirt.

Ken Tash graduated in 1975 with a political science major and minors in history and English. He came to University of Detroit from U of D Jesuit High School, following the path taken by his older brother. While at the University he worked as a photographer for the Varsity News, chronicling events that are part of the patchwork of Detroit Mercy’s history.

He worked his entire career for the Social Security Administration and retired in 2016. It was right around that time that Tash took up the task of self-appointed historian of the University.

“I had been sort of keeping the history of U of D High and at my old church and the Detroit Tigers,” he said. But then he came across a photograph of the McNichols Campus being built in the 1920s and he thought he would find a way to keep Detroit Mercy’s history from fading away.

He put that photo as the cover photograph of his Facebook page titled University of Detroit Mercy Historical Photos. A couple times a week, sometimes more, Tash posts photos he has scanned from old yearbooks, histories of the University, old copies of the Varsity News or, in some cases, photos he took for the campus newspaper.

Recent posts are photos from old yearbooks and basketball programs and one was an article from a 1927 edition of the Varsity News that reported new rules for students, including a ban on stags at dances. The article continued: “Freshmen are exempt from this rule during the first semester. Loaning of freshmen cards to other students is not permitted. No drinking of alcoholic liquors is permitted at dances. Students showing signs of having partaken of liquor will be required to leave the premises.”

Most posts come without commentary, but that’s what the comments section below the photos is for. And what is there to say about the Freshmen Rules that included “all freshmen must salute members of the faculty” and “no mustaches shall be worn.” He is encouraged by the comments followers of the page leave and by others who give him new source material. And, he adds, “there’s lots of good material.”

This photo is of an alumni ball in 1900.
This photo is of an alumni ball in 1900.

“Everybody likes to see things from their era at the school, but also they like things about Father Caron and Father McNichols,” Tash said. Malcolm Carron, S.J., was president of University of Detroit from 1966-79 and John McNichols, S.J., was president from 1921-32.

Tash works at this hobby two or three days a week spread out among his various historical pages.

“Maybe it’s because of my history minor and that I didn’t do much with it, but I enjoy all of this,” he said. “I have a strong affiliation with the school and some other organizations and am fascinated by stories.”

You can find University of Detroit Mercy Historical Photos on Facebook.

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