Get to know: Suzanne Hudson ’74, giving back to thank the University and a special professor

Suzanne Hudson and Bruce Brorby in the halls of the Commerce & Finance Building.
Hudson and Brorby recently toured the McNichols Campus. Here they are in the Commerce & Finance Building.

In 1971, Suzanne L. Hudson ’74 was in her first year as a student at University of Detroit. That same year Bruce Brorby ’66, ’67 started working as a faculty member at the school.

Driven and not afraid of hard work, Hudson finished her degree in Economics in less than four years; Brorby remained at the University for nearly 50 years on the faculty and administration of the College of Business Administration.

They crossed paths in class and each made a lasting impression on the other. When the two talk about each other, they use similar glowing terms.

Broby on Hudson: “She was a very, very hard worker and an outstanding student who made an impression on me and many others; I haven’t forgotten her. She was extremely intelligent, but the thing that made her really stand out is she was really curious. She would ask questions not just to get a better grade, but because she wanted to know how things really work.”

Hudson on Brorby: “In general, it takes a special person to teach effectively and he was an effective teacher. Even moreso, because he committed himself at one institution for such a long time. I see him as a quiet giant, always a cheerleader for the University, working very hard, but not for an ‘attaboy.’”

Hudson recently honored Brorby with a substantial donation to create a scholarship in Brorby’s honor.

“I was extremely honored when she said she was going to do this,” Brorby said.

The scholarship is for first-generation female students studying in the College of Business Administration.

Hudson herself was a first-generation female student who attended University of Detroit on a scholarship provided by the state of Michigan.

“I came from poor people, lived at home and was a commuter student,” she said.

She entered University of Detroit in 1971 with a goal of a liberal arts degree. Two years in, though, with the country entering a recession, Hudson saw many liberal arts grads struggling to find jobs while students from the College of Business Administration seemingly had their pick.

She moved into to the Economics program, which she thought would provide her some stability.

When she graduated she had hoped to work for, and indeed received a job offer from, the U.S. General Accounting Office. But she also received several offers from private industry worth much more, and accepted one of them.

“I have never regretted the decision,” she said.

After a long career as an operations and financial analyst in the healthcare industry that included a great deal of travel, Hudson decided to end her career and start truly enjoying herself. She was 55.

Hudson says she has always had a “payback mentality” and shares her skills in “chunks of time” as a docent at a local history museum near her home in California, for the U.S. Park Service and at a food rescue operation.

“It keeps me energized in the community and it fills the need I have to give back,” she said.

Hudson also travels, often drawn by particular museums: “I’ve been to about two-thirds of the world and there are still places I want to see.”

She also used the pandemic to earn a certificate in museum studies to open the doors for volunteering at more prestigious museums. And she is generous with her wealth, too.

In addition to the large donation to create the Brorby Expendable Scholarship, she has created a second for female students studying in business, engineering or architecture; and gave a large gift to the McNichols Library that will likely be used to upgrade gathering spaces. She has named the University a major beneficiary of her estate.

“Many years ago, I decided I didn’t want to be the richest person in the cemetery,” she said. “I worked hard and lived in a way that has allowed me to have options. I recognize that’s a gift.”

Hudson encourages single people, as she is, to think more about their own causes when drawing up their estate plans and less about what others, such as extended family members, might expect.

And why does Detroit Mercy hold such a special place in Hudson’s heart?

“If you look at your life as a series of chapters, as I do, my University chapter was the happiest of my life,” she said. “I loved the University so much that I moved in to Shiple Hall my final term so I could spend more time there. There are a lot of leaders in Michigan and elsewhere who were educated there and that speaks very well of the school.”

To make donations to the Bruce Brorby Expendable Scholarship, visit https://www.udmercy.edu/giving/donate/ and designate it to the Bruce M. Brorby ’66, ’67 Expendable Scholarship.

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