Three Black Business and Civic Leaders Honored by Western Michigan University

Two residence halls and a conference center at Western Michigan University will be named after three legendary black Detroit business and civic leaders.

The honorees include the late automotive executive Ronald Hall Sr., former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer, and entrepreneur William Pickard.

The Western Heights residence hall complex will be named Hall-Archer-Pickard West and Hall-Archer-Pickard East, along with the Hall-Archer-Pickard Conference Room in Heritage Hall. A public ceremony and reception will be hosted by WMU’s Board of Trustees and President Edward B. Montgomery Wednesday at the Kalamazoo campus.


(The Western Heights Complex. Image: File)



(Ronald Hall Sr. (right) with Ronald Hall Jr. Image: Black Enterprise Magazine)



Excelling in Business, Government, and Other Endeavors


The friendship of Hall, Archer and Pickard commenced as fraternity brothers of Alpha Phi Alpha at WMU in the 1960s. The trio impacted and influenced the state of Michigan after graduation by achieving great success in business and other endeavors.

(Dennis Archer. Image: File)


Hall was president of the Michigan Minority Business Development Council from 1992 to 1998. He later founded Detroit-based Bridgewater Interiors L.L.C., an automotive parts company. He passed last year. Bridgewater Interiors is No. 3 on the BE Top 100 list with more than $2.2 billion in revenue.

Archer was on the Michigan Supreme Court and elected Mayor of Detroit, where he served two terms in 1994 and 2001. Further, he was the first person of color to be president of the State Bar of Michigan and American Bar Association.

Pickard Presents $3 Million Donation Linked to Residence Halls


Pickard was among the nation’s first African Americans to own a McDonald’s franchise. He was the executive director of the NAACP Detroit Branch, and is now an executive board member. He is a co-managing partner of MGM Grand Detroit Casino. Pickard founded and is co-CEO of Detroit-based Global Automotive Alliance L.L.C., the parent company of several businesses in the automotive, logistics, and warehousing and distribution industries. Global Automotive is No. 16 on the BE Top 100 list with revenues of $234.4 million. Pickard provided a major monetary gift tied to the residence halls.

Dr. William Pickard (Dr. William F. Pickard. Image: Myron Watkins II)


“With a passion for education and a life-long tie to Western Michigan University, I’m proud to give a gift in excess of ($3 million) in honor of the naming of two new residence halls within the Western Heights Complex, Hall-Archer-Pickard West and Hall-Archer-Pickard East, and the Hall-Archer-Pickard Conference Room in Heritage Hall,” stated Pickard via a press release.

“Speaking on behalf of Archer and the late Hall, we’re so thankful for our WMU experience and hope our names on-campus facilities become a small reminder to current
students of the importance of building meaningful relationships and taking full advantage of WMU’s extensive opportunities,” the statement continued.