Faculty voice:

Prabu David: Collaboration Leads to Progress in Detroit

Aug. 12, 2015

Prabu David currently serves as the dean of the College of Communication Arts and Sciences. He began his position at MSU Jan. 1, 2015 and came from Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University where he was a professor of communication and associate dean for academics.

The Roasting Plant is a Willy-Wonka-type coffee shop located on Woodward Avenue in the heart of Detroit. When an order is placed, the barista pushes a button and coffee beans from containers on a pedestal in the middle of the floor shoot across transparent tubes to a machine that roasts, grinds and brews fresh coffee. The plant manager is ComArtSci alumnus Patrick Seeney, B.A. Advertising and Marketing ’05, who like many others is betting on a fresh start in Detroit.

The Roasting Plant is on the ground level of the First National Building, which is part of Dan Gilbert’s vast holdings in Detroit. Gilbert, Founder and Chairman of Rock Ventures and Quicken Loans, also is an alumnus of our college, B.A. Telecommunication ’83.

On April 17, ComArtsSci alumni, faculty and students, along with locals, gathered outside the coffee shop in the lobby of the First National Building to launch a photo exhibit that features urban portraits of residents of Detroit by Wayne Lawrence, which appears in the May issue of National Geographic under the title, “Taking Back Detroit.” Guess what? The story was written by ComArtSci alumna Susan Ager, B.A. Journalism ’75.

Along with Provost Youatt, who offered remarks about MSU’s vision for Detroit, Susan Goldberg was on hand to launch the exhibit. By now, you are likely sensing a pattern. Goldberg, National Geographic Editor-in-Chief, is a ComArtSci graduate, B.A. Journalism ’84.

ComArtSci’s collaboration in the “Taking Back Detroit” event was intended to inspire our students to follow our alumni who are making a difference in Detroit. It is an open challenge to our faculty and students to pursue translational research and experiential learning opportunities in Detroit by taking advantage of seed grants that will be announced in the near future.

From the Roasting Plant to the Quicken building across the street, Spartans are integral to the rebirth of Detroit, a city that faces many challenges. ComArtSci faculty and students are well poised to help residents of Detroit tell stories that spark social and economic change in the Motor City.

Reprinted with permission from the College of Communication Arts and Sciences website