Kettering University’s storied 100-year history was front and center for the entire campus as it welcomed alumni, students, faculty, staff, community and special guests to its Founders’ Week Celebration Oct. 15-20, 2019.
Whether it was exploring the founding fathers’ inventions, learning the “real” story of General Determination during a chat with author Tim Noonan and University President Robert K. McMahan, or hopping a bus to visit Greek Houses and local pubs, there was something for everyone to enjoy. The week’s culminating event, the Centennial Gala on Saturday, Oct. 19, involved the complete transformation of the Connie and Jim John Recreation Center. More than 500 guests enjoyed an evening steeped in institutional pride in its past, exploration of its present and a sneak preview into its future. Attendees enjoyed wine by Fenton Winery & Brewery (co-owned by graduate Matt Sherrow ’98 and his wife Ginny) and locally catered cuisine, celebrated outstanding Alumni Awardees and danced to music spanning the decades.
A group of visionaries from Flint founded Kettering University in 1919 as The School of Automobile Trades. It opened under the direction of Major Albert Sobey with the goal of training technical and management talent for the rapidly growing automobile industry. By 1923 the school had grown to offer a full four-year cooperative education program enrolling more than 600 full-time students, and in recognition of this growth Major Sobey rechristened it the Flint Institute of Technology. Three years later and appreciating the importance of cooperative education, the General Motors Corporation acquired the school, renaming it the General Motors Institute (GMI).
For the next 56 years, GM operated the school as GMI, and it became for the company one of its best sources of creative and successful engineering and managerial talent. By 1945 the Institute had added a fifth-year thesis requirement and had evolved into a full degree-granting university with a unique educational model built upon an ongoing and strong commitment to cooperative education.
In 1982, GM divested itself of ownership of the school, and it became the private, non-profit University it is today, however first under the name GMI Engineering & Management Institute (GMI-EMI). Shortly thereafter the institution began offering Master’s-level graduate programs to both on and off campus students.
On January 1, 1998, GMI-EMI changed its name a final time to honor a founder of the institution, Charles Kettering (1876-1958), an inventor, an industrialist, and an early and strong proponent of professional cooperative education. Today as Kettering University, the school continues this historic tradition, and in 2019 will mark its centennial year. Over that proud 100-year history, Kettering University has become one of the country’s premier STEM institutions and is known around the world for educating great and successful leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators, engineers, scientists, and business people.