WSW: Dennis Archer's Journey From WMU To The Detroit Mayor's Office

Feb 25, 2018

Credit Atkins & Greenspan Writing

When Dennis Archer arrived at Western Michigan University he was driving an old Studebaker. It broke down in a place he wasn't supposed to park. Archer convinced campus police to sell the car in exchange for forgiving his parking tickets . More than 50 years later Archer had a dorm named after him on the WMU campus. 


Archer has written about his childhood, education and political career in his new autobiography Let the Future Begin with co-author Elizabeth Ann Atkins. He was interviewed by Zinta Aistars. A version of the interview originally aired on Between the Lines in January.

Following graduation from Western Michigan University, Archer began his career teaching learning disabled children. But eventually he followed a teacher's suggestion to go to law school. Archer says then he did the smartest thing he's ever done, and married the teacher who encouraged him. Trudy Archer also encouraged her husband to write his autobiography.

Archer was appointed to the Michigan Supreme Court, but left his seat on the state's highest court to run for Mayor of Detroit. Archer was elected in 1993 when Coleman Young decided not to seek another term. Archer would serve two terms as Detroit mayor. Later he would serve eight years on Western Michigan University's Board of Trustees. 

Last year Western Michigan University named a dorm after Archer and two other alumni. Hall-Archer-Pickard Hall is also named for William Pickard, who is currently on Western's board, and the late Ronald Hall, a former WMU trustee.