Madonna University News

Community Needs Assessment

Sign Language Department is Partner in State Needs Assessment

September 19, 2018

LIVONIA, Mich. – Expressing the Madonna mission through service-oriented research, the Not Without Us research project is funded by the Division on Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing, which is part of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. The operating project partners are Public Sector Consultants (PSC, the fiduciary partner) and Sign Language Studies (MUSLS). More than a dozen meetings of the project steering committee have been hosted by MUSLS on campus. The steering committee is comprised of Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and DeafBlind people. The committee developed a needs assessment survey, which will be distributed to people throughout the state. The survey will be hosted online, with versions in English and American Sign Language. The findings from the survey will be shared with legislators, nonprofit organizations, and community members, in order to improve decision-making with regard to programs and services for people who are Deaf, DeafBlind, or Hard of Hearing.

The last such survey was conducted in 1989 (the only copy of this report known to exist is in the in the Madonna University library). 

The principal investigator for the project on behalf of Madonna is Dan McDougall, director of the University's Sign Language Studies (SLS) department. McDougall and his department have been responsible for ensuring the cultural and linguistic authenticity of the project, while PSC has managed the technical process of the research study. The SLS department has been responsible for ensuring the cultural and linguistic authenticity of the project, while PSC has managed the technical process of the research study. The SLS department also has helped to select the advisory board members. MUSLS managed the entire process of translating the 160-question survey into American Sign Language (ASL), and supervised the filming of the survey questions in sign language by a Deaf news anchor. Filming of the ASL version of the survey took place in August on campus, with a hybrid of Madonna University staff and Deaf talent from the local film-making community.

On Sept. 6, the Michigan Department of Civil Rights held a press conference and a legislative caucus centered around the Deaf community and the survey project. The survey will “go live” within the week. Watch the project announcement here.

The following Madonna family members were instrumental, over the past year, to the success of this partnership: 

Bretagne Whitford, Debbie Mitre-Smith (who has left SLS but is now the chair of the project committee), Sarah Kosel, Marciano Gongora, Christopher Nickin, Sue Boyd, Dan Boyd, Erin Parrish, the CDRC, Kevin Eyster, Jim O'Neill and Michael Grandillo.


New Interim Dean

Madonna University Appoints New Interim Dean of the School of Business

September 18, 2018

LIVONIA, Mich. – Nidhal Bouazizi has been named interim dean of the School of Business at Madonna University. He joined the faculty at Madonna in 2013 and has been serving as an assistant professor of international business and economics in recent years. In addition to his work in the classroom, Nidhal also served as the chair of the graduate programs in the School of Business and director of the international programs.

“Nidhal brings a wealth of global business experience to the dean position,” said James O’Neill, Ph.D., Madonna’s provost and vice president for academic administration. “His leadership style is engaging and supportive, as he has demonstrated in his work with students and colleagues across the University. His research acumen and recruiting experience will serve the School of Business and Madonna students well.”

Bouazizi, a candidate for a Doctor of Business Administration degree from Argosy University in Chicago, was honored to be appointed dean. “I was humbled and honored to be asked by the provost to serve as dean,” Bouazizi said. “I look forward to working with a great business faculty as well as business leaders in the community to add more graduate and undergraduate programs, including a doctorate in business. While Madonna’s School of Business is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, our goal is to pursue double accreditation with the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.”

After completing his master’s in economics and international business at the University of Tunis in Tunisia, he gained business and corporate experience in Europe, North Africa, East Asia, and the United States. He eventually settled in Ann Arbor, and obtained his MBA from Madonna University with a concentration in international business financial operations. His academic interests include business critical success factors, entrepreneurship, international business, and economics. He has done research focused on critical success factors for small businesses in the Detroit area, as well as on the cultural differences in perceptions of entrepreneurs across four regions. This research has included both primary and secondary research methods. While he enjoys teaching marketing and management, his favorite classes to teach are international business and economics. In his free time, he enjoys playing soccer, traveling to new places, and playing with his children.

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St. Peter's Mural

Madonna Students and Faculty Complete Mural at Detroit Church

September 12, 2018

LIVONIA, Mich. – Madonna University’s Ford Community Corps/Mural and Broadcast and Cinema Arts Teams put the finishing touches on their mural project at St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Detroit, Saturday, Sept. 8. 

The goal of the mural project was for the students to interact with members of the St. Peter’s community in order to design and paint a mural that would reflect all aspects of the community. Students in Madonna’s Broadcast and Cinema Arts program chronicled the project on video.

The church has a community garden and runs a soup kitchen, Manna Meal. The parish house adjacent to the church is nicknamed the “Social Justice Hive”, because it provides office space for many social justice organizations. The Coalition on Temporary Shelter (COTS) got its start at St. Peter’s. Current organizations include We the People, which advocates for water rights in Detroit. The space at the end of the main hallway of the social justice "hive" is the site of the mural. Given its nickname, the team incorporated bee imagery into the mural to symbolize the activity of the parish and office members in the wider community.

The key to the project's success was the input from Detroit muralist, Hubert Massey. Ford Community Corps covered the cost for the artists, student volunteers, and materials.

All participants had input, but it was the Madonna students, working closely with Robin Ward, who brought the design to life. While some of the students were art or graphic design majors, there were creative students from a variety of academic majors who worked on the mural. The design elements included:

  • at center: a sun/sunflower and outstretched hands, symbolizing creation/a creator,
  • at right: a tree and field with a bee hive, symbolizing the work of the church and its affiliated organizations, and
  • at left: a view of Detroit with diverse hands holding picket signs, symbolizing the church advocating for its members and the city.

An event to bless the mural, watch the “Making of the Mural” film, and celebrate the collaborative project is planned for Saturday, November 3, from 10:30-12:30 at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Detroit. Watch our website for event details.


Criminal Justice Master's

Livonia Officers First to Complete Criminal Justice Master’s

September 10, 2018

Livonia, Mich. – The first two graduate students to complete the Master of Science in Criminal Justice Leadership and Intelligence program at Madonna University, are members of the Livonia Police Department. 

Sgt. Megan McAteer (left), and Lt. Greg Yon (right) completed their capstone projects during the summer semester and presented to the criminal justice faculty Aug. 1, 2018. 

For her capstone project, McAteer presented A Study of the Association between Childhood Trauma and Future Violent Criminal Behavior.

Yon’s project presentation was about The Effects of Video Technology on Law Enforcement.  

Both plan to utilize their master's degrees to continue to rise through the ranks, and to teach at the college level. 

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Paralegal Aaron Boey

Job Market Remains Strong for Paralegals

August 16, 2018

Livonia, Mich. – “This continues to be the best job market for paralegals that I’ve seen in my thirty years of paralegal education,” said Mary Meinzinger Urisko, J.D., director of the paralegal studies program at Madonna.

The U.S. Department of Labor predicts the paralegal profession will grow much faster than average through 2026 with a 15 percent annual growth rate. New graduates with less than a year of experience average $38,500-$43,000 in the Metro Detroit area. Within five years the average salary for paralegals is approximately $60,000, according to the legal recruiter, Robert Half’s Website. For the specialized legal practice areas of contract administration and electronic discovery the salary range is approximately $50,000-80,000 after five years and after 10 years can be $110,000 or more.

Madonna University’s Career Services Website continues to see a strong demand for paralegals. Recent Madonna graduates work as clerks for a U.S. magistrate and a Michigan Court of Appeals judge. Others are employed in law firms, corporate legal departments (including the auto industry), banks and the U.S Attorney’s office.

According to Meinzinger Urisko, most large law firms, corporations and government bodies require that paralegals possess a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies. Approved by the American Bar Association (ABA) Madonna University’s paralegal program offers an associate degree, a bachelor’s degree, as well as post-baccalaureate, and post-BSN certificates. Degree completion, for those with associate degrees, requires 120 credits — at least 46 of which must be completed through Madonna University. The post-baccalaureate certificate (30 credits) can be completed in one year of full-time study.

Madonna’s paralegal program requires students have an internship. The internships provide real-world experience and may even result in a full-time positions after graduation. Such was the case for 2016 Madonna alumnus Aaron Boey. An intern with Helm Law PC in Plymouth, Mich., Boey was hired as a paralegal after he graduated. After completing his first year of law school at Michigan State University, Boey returned to the firm to work for the summer. He’s headed back to East Lansing for his second year of law school.

“My internship, classes at Madonna and work experience at Helm Law, more than prepared me for law school,” Boey said. “I have played a substantial role in more than 130 cases, and have sat at the counsel table for multiple jury trials. This experience has strengthened my knowledge and competence in every aspect of the litigation process. And none of this would have been possible without my Madonna paralegal degree.”

Madonna classes are offered weeknights and weekends, and online; the ABA requires that at least 10 credits be taken on campus. Fall semester starts August 27, 2018. For information about the program, call 734-432-5570, or email Professor Mary Meinzinger Urisko at

Photo Cutline:

Pictured here with David Helm (right) of Helm Law PC in Plymouth, Mich. is Aaron Boey, of Livonia. Boey graduated from Madonna in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies. Following his internship with Helm, he was hired as a paralegal. He currently is pursuing his law degree at Michigan State University.

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Judith McKenna

Madonna University Hires New Dean of the College of Nursing and Health

August 16, 2018

LIVONIA, Mich. – Judith McKenna has been hired by Madonna University as dean of the College of Nursing and Health, effective August 20. McKenna brings to Madonna 30 years of experience as a nurse, nurse practitioner, nursing instructor and professor.

McKenna comes to Madonna from Alma College, where she was the founding director of the nursing program, which involved writing the self-study and nursing curriculum and obtaining state approval, and then accreditation by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

“We are thrilled to welcome Dr. McKenna as dean of Madonna University’s College of Nursing and Health,” said James O’Neill, Ph.D., Madonna’s provost and vice president for academic administration. “She brings a wealth of experience and wisdom to the position. We were impressed with her leadership style of shared governance, and her innovative approach to program development. Most importantly, she believes in engaging students in quality improvement and new nursing initiatives.”

An advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), McKenna earned her Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) and her Master of Science in Nursing from Oakland University. 

Her clinical practice in a multitude of settings including, acute care and the community have provided her insight into how she educates in the classroom. It also provided opportunities for her to delve deeper into the meaning of patient and family healthcare experiences. Committed to serving the underserved population, she participated in a medical mission to provide healthcare to Syrian refugees, last summer.

“I am ecstatic to join the Madonna University family as dean. The University as a whole, and the College of Nursing and Health, in particular, have a reputation for excellence.” McKenna said. “Madonna’s strong mission and commitment of service to others also align with my Catholic values.”

McKenna is a member of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and Sigma Theta Tau. A widow, McKenna, resides in Clay Township, Mich. She has two adult children and two granddaughters. She enjoys gardening and running, when she is not teaching or serving others.

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