Five Questions with...Kirk Philipich/SLAAM Scholarship donor

July 12, 2018

Associate professor of accounting Kirk Philipich has long been impressed with the dedication, hard work and talent of the student athletes here on our campus. He is a big fan on the sidelines, but wanted to do something more than just cheer on the teams. He created the SLAAM Scholarship.

Victors for UM-Dearborn
Victors for UM-Dearborn
The UM-Dearborn Women's Softball Team gave this card to Prof. Philipich to thank him for being their "greatest fan." According to one player, "Your support kept us going!"

What was your main purpose in creating the SLAAM Scholarship for student athletes at UM-Dearborn? 

I wanted to ease some of the financial burden of getting an education and playing a sport here at UM-Dearborn. But I also wanted to show my support and give them recognition for their great undertakings. The recipients will be student-athletes who serve as Sportsmanship, Leadership, and Academic Achievement Models (SLAAM) not only for University of Michigan-Dearborn student-athletes, but for the entire University of Michigan-Dearborn community. These student-athletes are dedicated to principles such as integrity and fair play, as well as respect and concern for teammates and opponents alike. These student-athletes are committed to giving maximum effort both on the field and in the classroom.

I also wanted to honor former provost Robert L. Simpson and former College of Business Dean, Bruce O. Bublitz, by awarding the scholarships in their names. Their love for college athletics was only surpassed by their dedication and commitment to academic integrity and student success. They are two individuals who go the extra mile for people and that’s what I wanted this gift to do.

What impresses you most about our student athletes?

People are not aware of the tremendous dedication of these young men and women. They are doing it because they love their sport. And the quality of the play is at a very high level! I encourage everyone to come out to a game!

Why do you think athletics are so important to the student experience at UM-Dearborn?

For the student athletes, they develop sportsmanship, leadership, and respect for opponents. These are qualities that they will take with them into their careers and personal lives. Sports also create a great connection and loyalty to UM-Dearborn for the athletes and the fans!

What have been some of the most exciting UM-Dearborn games you have been to and why?

This year’s Men’s Basketball season was fantastic, especially their first-ever trip to the NAIA Division II National Tournament. I travelled to Sioux Falls for the game. I hope those young men realize what kind of an accomplishment that was! You wouldn’t realize it’s not NCAA Division 1! The UM-Dearborn men’s basketball games are just as entertaining as anything you’d see at Crisler Arena!

The 2017 softball season was also very exciting, with the players setting a number of records and clinching their first ever Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference championship. I think they are building another great team. Seeing these young women grow as a team, battle hard, and help and learn from each other was truly inspiring.

What do you think our chances are next season and why?

I think we have a good shot in a number of sports, certainly men’s basketball again. And I believe women’s basketball coach Jordan Sweeney has been successful recruiting, so I’m excited to see the team this coming year. I commend Director of Athletics and Recreation Matt Beaudry and Assistant Athletics Director Bryan Earl. They are really elevating the program and making good strides in the right direction. I think the future is exciting for athletics at UM-Dearborn and I’m happy to support our student athletes!

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