WDI Returns to U-M Campus

Friday, June 2, 2017

WDI celebrated its return to the University of Michigan campus and its newly-renovated Wyly Hall offices with a staff lunch June 1 that included the Institute’s board of directors.

For nearly three years, WDI was housed off campus at Domino’s Farms during construction at the Ross School of Business complex, which includes Sam Wyly Hall. In February 2016, the University of Michigan Board of Regents approved the $5.1 million renovation of Wyly Hall, which houses the offices of WDI on the first floor. WDI, with generous support from the William Davidson Foundation, and Ross financed the renovations of the 10,400-square foot space.

WDI Board Chairman and the Edward J. Frey Dean of the Ross School of Business Scott DeRue called the event “a moment of great celebration and excitement” and thanked the WDI staff “for everything you do.”

“It’s wonderful to have all of you back on campus,” DeRue said to the assembled WDI staff. “And now that you’re back, there are even greater, more exciting things to come.”

DeRue said WDI is “one of the most important partnerships that Ross has.”

“Our ability to collaborate and work together on business solutions to the world’s most important challenges is unique and essential,” he said. “Together, we can do special things for our global community.”

Ralph Gerson, a longtime WDI board member as well as a member of the Davidson Foundation board, also celebrated the Institute’s move back to central campus.

“The WDI Board of Directors and the Davidson family are excited to see the Institute able to return to the U-M campus where it can more easily engage with students and faculty across the university and continue its mission to bring market-based management principles to emerging markets,” he said. “We’re also delighted to see the newly renovated WDI offices in Wyly Hall, and to know that the staff will enjoy the refurbished, contemporary space with modern amenities and more breakout rooms for its collaborative work. The Davidson Foundation was happy to support this renovation and we couldn’t be more delighted by the outcome.”

WDI President Paul Clyde thanked a team of WDI staffers who gathered feedback from their colleagues and worked with architects on matters such as preferred work spaces, color patterns, carpeting, and other office design decisions.

Clyde also thanked Gerson and Karen Davidson, who also serves on the WDI and Davidson Foundation boards, for their financial support of the project.

He also noted that WDI is celebrating its 25th anniversary and to honor the occasion presented each board member with a framed collage of photos featuring Davidson as well as WDI staff and students at work in the field. It also included an excerpt from Davidson’s speech on the day the Institute was founded on April 23, 1992, when he declared: “We are not just educators, administrators or businessmen; we are co-workers for the cause of economic and social freedom.”

Clyde continued with that theme, reading another portion of Davidson’s speech.


“We know all too well the social upheaval that is caused by economic disorder. We have little choice but to seize this opportunity and to meet the challenge, or risk the prospect of these emerging nations sliding into social and economic chaos. We all have a responsibility to contribute to this great effort. This is our future not just the future of far-away lands. How we respond to this challenge will determine whether our children and our grandchildren will continue to enjoy the peace and prosperity we have known.”


Clyde said those words “were true 25 years ago and are still true today.

“This is the reason the Institute exists, and why it’s still just as important,” he said.

He noted that the global economic landscape has shifted the past 25 years and WDI’s focus areas have changed a bit.

“But even though the world has changed, the need for the kind of work we do has not changed,” Clyde said. “And I think our work will continue to be extremely valuable.”

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