American Bar Association President Dennis Archer encourages
students who want to make a difference in the world to get involved
in public service that will help support equity and justice.
Archer, a former mayor of Detroit, spoke to a crowd of more than
100 people yesterday afternoon in the Michigan Union Pendleton Room
in a speech titled, “Why Public Service Matters.”
“I love public service and I love the law,” he said.
“For me those two go hand-in-hand.”
As president of the bar association, the national professional
organization of attorneys, Archer said he feels that he and his
colleagues have a commitment to public service. “Lawyers have
a long history as public servants and public officials and have
made a great contribution,” he said.
But Archer insisted that other types of professionals are
equally equipped to seek positive change. “You don’t
have to be a lawyer to change the world,” he said.
“Everyone has the power to challenge injustice.”
Archer also stressed that it is important to maintain a balanced
lifestyle while working in a public service career.
“It’s important that you stay connected to your family
and community,” he said. “A person with a balanced life
makes a better professional and a whole human being.”
Archer commended the University’s diverse community, and
said it is vital to students for their success in the job market.
He made the point that people uncomfortable around different
cultures and races will not be successful in an increasingly global
marketplace. “The people I fear for the most are those who
have not experienced diversity,” he said.
Archer served as mayor of Detroit from 1994 to 2001, during
which time he worked on initiatives to develop business and reform
government. He currently practices law at Dickinson Wright PLLC in
Archer’s address was part of the annual Citigroup Lecture
Series, endowed in honor of University alum and former President
Gerald Ford. Rebecca Blank, dean of the Ford School of Public
Policy, said the Citigroup lecture was an important venue for
students and the community.
“The lecture provides opportunities for students to ask
questions and explore ideas,” she said. “For all of us,
this afternoon’s lecture is a chance to continue
Following his speech, Archer answered questions from the
LSA junior Sally Hollister said she was encouraged by
Archer’s statement that everyone is able to participate in
public service. “I found it really important that he said
public service can be done in any area of work because I’m
going into the medical field,” she said.
Medical School employee Shamar Herron said he completed an
internship with Archer in Detroit. “I worked with Mr.
Archer,” he said. “I feel as though he always has great
things to say.”