Get to know: Kathy Dul Aznavorian ’68, looking out for tomorrow’s Titans

Kathy Aznavourian speaks at a podium.Kathy Dul Aznavorian never envisioned that she would enter the business world when she came to University of Detroit as a mathematics student. But a movie she saw the summer of her freshman year changed her course. 

Paul Newman played a tax attorney in The Young Philadelphians, and the role left Aznavorian awestruck. Her guidance counselor at the University recommended that she study Accounting to follow that path. 

“I went into Accounting and never looked back,” Aznavorian said. 

Instead of becoming an attorney, Aznavorian worked as a CPA before joining her family’s businesses in Plymouth, Mich. She owns Clips & Clamps Industries, a manufacturing company, and owned and operated Fox Hills Golf & Banquet Center with her sister until it was sold last summer. 

Aznavorian’s entrepreneurial roots were inspired by her mother, Estelle, who founded Clips & Clamps in 1954. She also remembers how few women were Accounting graduates when she left U-D in the late 1960s. 

After mentoring College of Business Administration (CBA) students in the 2010s, Aznavorian wanted to help other women at University of Detroit Mercy by establishing a scholarship in her name. Her scholarship is awarded annually to a female Accounting student who maintains good academic standing and has financial need. 

“My experience at U-D was one that I always remember so positively,” she said. “I just felt that U-D did great things for me, and at this stage of my life, it was time to give back to where it all got started.” 

She also created the Kathleen Dul Aznavorian Strategic Resource for Social Entrepreneurship Fund to aid the CBA’s Center for Social Entrepreneurship in its quest to provide business training and resources to community entrepreneurs seeking to launch and grow start-ups that positively affect the community. The fund also helps undergraduate students with a concentration in Social Entrepreneurship. 

Attending U-D was an easy decision for Aznavorian. She wanted to go to a co-ed college after graduating from Mercy High School, and she recalls the Sisters of Mercy holding the University in high esteem. 

Once on campus, Aznavorian “really came alive.” She joined Theta Phi Alpha and was heavily involved in Student Government, representing the then-College of Commerce & Finance. After living at home her first two years of college, she made the move to be closer to campus. 

“My mom always said, ‘You might as well live on campus because I never see you. You’re gone for 8 a.m. classes and you’re there till seemingly 11 p.m.’ That’s how it was,” Aznavorian said. “We had a wonderful time. I couldn’t imagine a nicer college experience.” 

As an Accounting major and Philosophy minor, Aznavorian learned from technical and religious courses, which she says provided a great learning opportunity. 

“I had a lot of wonderful classes that let me stretch my mind and think more esoteric things,” she said. “Things about life, where we are going, what we are here for. I think I had the best of both worlds.” 

Aznavorian knows that life’s journeys aren’t linear. She had already taken a different path when she purchased Clips & Clamps from her mother. Her focus then shifted to the golf business with her sister, where they doubled the acreage and added new courses to Fox Hills to make it a 63-hole property. 

“Being an entrepreneur, my mom didn’t hold us back,” Aznavorian said. “We were definitely outside the mainstream because women in that era were not known for being golf course owners. My sister was on the front lines and she got a little pushback from some of the men. But being a CPA, I had already crossed the bridges from getting into public accounting, which was a definite challenge because there weren’t many women who were CPAs in those days.” 

Aznavorian’s approach to business was simple, yet successful: Satisfy the customer’s needs. She credits her education and financial background for helping her as a businesswoman. 

“I think U-D taught me values, how to run a business ethically and with passion, and to take care of my employees and customers,” Aznavorian said. 

Aznavorian, who was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from CBA last fall, was excited to mentor students and get reinvolved with the University. Over the years, she’s enjoyed getting to know UDM students and watching them flourish. It’s something that inspires her while invoking treasured memories. 

“As a donor, I think it really just gives you a lot of energy and belief in the future,” she said. “Every time I interact with the kids at the University, I’m just amazed at their commitment and where they want to go, what they want to do. It just takes me back to when I was in college.” 

One comment

  1. Carol S Smith

    I remember Kathleen Dul from St. Stephen’s grade school. We went to school together until my parents moved to the suburbs. I received a Chemistry Degree from U of D in 1967, and then a Masters at Wayne State University.

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