Mercy President Emerita Sr. Maureen Fay passes away

Sr. Maureen Fay portrait photograph.Detroit Mercy’s President Emerita, Sr. Maureen Fay, O.P., died on May 27 following a long illness. She was 87.

Sr. Maureen served Detroit Mercy with distinction from 1990-2004. Prior to her leadership at the University, she was president of Mercy College of Detroit from 1983-90.

Sr. Maureen grew up in Chicago, one of two children. Her father was an Irish immigrant and became an architect and her mother worked for a telephone company. She entered the convent at 17 and enrolled at Siena Heights College in Adrian, graduating in 1960 with a degree in English. She received her Master of Arts Degree in English from the University of Detroit in 1966, then taught English at Dominican High School in Detroit before becoming an assistant professor at Siena Heights in 1969. Two years later, she enrolled in a doctoral program in social sciences at the University of Chicago and won a Carnegie Fellowship. She received an American Council on Education Fellowship in 1975 and spent a year at Saint Xavier, a Chicago college run by the Sisters of Mercy. She also gave of her time freely, serving on many boards, including Rockhurst University and University of St. Thomas (Minn.).

“Sr. Maureen made a significant impact on metropolitan Detroit with her extensive contributions to the business and civic community, and especially to University of Detroit Mercy when University of Detroit and Mercy College of Detroit consolidated in 1990,” said Antoine M. Garibaldi, current president of the University. “Even more important is the tremendous influence that she had on shaping the future of Catholic higher education in the United States,” he added.

During her 14 years as Detroit Mercy president, Sr. Maureen led the University with wisdom and insight focusing on the institution’s mission – to provide academic excellence within a Catholic and urban context. Her accomplishments were numerous and included forming the Commission on the Future to help position Detroit Mercy programs and plans for the 21st Century, the $101.3 million Legacy Campaign, the Prioritization strategic planning process and Vision 2020 implementation, construction and renovation of facilities, modernization of the technological and physical infrastructure and implementation of innovative programs. Her skills at strategic planning, commitment to the Detroit area, and ability to establish positive working relationships with faculty, students, alumni and the community earned her much admiration and long-standing support.

All are welcome to participate in Sr. Maureen’s Vigil and funeral via livestream. The vigil will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, May 31 at the St. Catherine Chapel in Adrian and the funeral will be at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, June 1. The services are not open to the public, due to the COVID-19 pandemic; they will be livestreamed. You may also view Sr. Maureen’s obituary.