Detroit Mercy Law dean receives Patriot Award


Pictured (l-r) are Michael Peplinski of the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve; Detroit Mercy Law Professor Michelle Richards; Dean Phyllis L. Crocker; Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, Pamela Zarkowski

University of Detroit Mercy School of Law Dean Phyllis L. Crocker is the recipient of the Patriot Award administered by the U.S. Department of Defense’s National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR). This prestigious award recognizes employers who help foster a strong National Guard and Reserve force by practicing leadership and personnel policies that support Guard and Reserve members and their families.

Detroit Mercy Law Professor Michelle Richards nominated Dean Crocker for this award for her and the law school community’s support while her husband, a U.S. Navy JAG Commander, has been deployed overseas for nearly a year.

“When I learned that my husband would be deployed, I had no idea how I would be able to manage teaching in the evening with two kids at home, three committees and several other commitments to the law school,” said Richards. “Dean Crocker and others, without being asked to do anything to help me, just did and are doing what they can to make my life easier during his deployment.”

According to Richards, Dean Crocker, faculty, administrators and others in the community not only offered kind words, but took action to support her so that she can manage both her professional and personal obligations. Dean Crocker collaborated with faculty and administrators to reformulate Richards’ committee responsibilities. Professor Pamela Wilkins volunteered to switch course sections with her, so she could teach during the day and be home in the evenings. Richard Broughton, associate dean of Academic Affairs, worked to adjust Richards’ entire teaching schedule to better fit the needs of her family.

“Upon learning about the Patriot Award, I immediately thought of the kindness with which I was treated by Dean Crocker and the law school community and knew that I had to submit a nomination. I am very proud and happy that I was able to recognize the Dean and Detroit Mercy Law in this unique way as ‘thank you’ just never seems to be quite enough,” added Richards.

On June 5, Dean Crocker was presented the award by Michael Peplinski, program support specialist at the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve and retired commander of the 127th Wing of the Selfridge Air National Guard Base. According to Peplinski, this was a special award as it marked the first time he has ever presented the ESGR Patriot Award to an employer of a military spouse in the state of Michigan.