SOUTHFIELD, Mich. – Henry Ford’s Highland Park complex was the birthplace of more than just modern manufacturing. It was also the birthplace of what today is Lawrence Technological University, founded in 1932 in a building adjacent to Ford’s factory.
That partnership has continued to this day, with Ford Motor Co. a key corporate partner of Lawrence Tech, and employing more than 1,500 LTU alumni.
At 10 a.m. Tuesday, April 25, Lawrence Tech will celebrate that longtime connection, with a dedication ceremony of a sculpture of Henry Ford outside LTU’s Buell Management Building in Southfield, at one of the busiest locations on campus.
The sculpture is a gift of the Henry Ford Trade School Alumni Association. Ford opened a trade school in 1916 that would eventually enroll nearly 3,000 students a year. LTU and the Ford alumni group have a long history dating back to Lawrence Tech’s creation, when one of the first acts of LTU founder Russell Lawrence was to create a scholarship fund to attract Trade School graduates. In 2015, the association donated $750,000 to create a permanent endowed scholarship fund for undergraduate Mechanical Engineering students at LTU.
“Henry Ford’s ‘theory and practice’ model emphasizing experiential learning at the Trade School was extended to the higher education level at LTU,” said Lawrence Tech President Virinder Moudgil. “This new sculpture recognizes Ford’s role. We’re also pleased that its placement on our campus dovetails so well with our university’s continued support of the City of Southfield’s commitment to public art.”
The Ford Trade School graduated its last class in 1953. Most of its alumni are in their 80s and 90s. Members see the scholarship and statue as a way of serving and informing new generations while highlighting the legacy of Ford’s educational approach and preserving the memory of their organization.
Speakers at the April 25 event include Moudgil; Douglas Ebert, chairman of the LTU Board of Trustees; and George Banda, Henry Ford Trade School Alumni Association president. Sculptor Mino Kramer will also attend.