RODZIK FAMILY MAKES GENEROUS CONTRIBUTION TO WINDSOR LAW
PHOTO BY DYLAN KRISTY/UWINDSOR
“The law school, the medical school, the engineering school—all those post-graduate programs really add to the reputation of the university. They just allow the whole university to grow.”
— Don Rodzik Sr.
BY JASON MCBRIDE
In early April, the Transforming Windsor Law capital campaign took a great leap forward thanks to a generous gift from the Don Rodzik Foundation.
Not content to just support the transformation of the Ron W. Ianni building, the foundation is also helping to establish the first endowed research chair position at Windsor Law. The gift is making these plans a reality, with a donation of $3 million over the next three years, the largest individual gift in Windsor Law’s history.
When the renovated building is open, the Moot Court and Law Library will be renamed in honour of the Rodzik family.
“The building provides the bricks-and-mortar for the learning environment,” Don Rodzik, Sr., says. “It’s a great toolbox. And the research chair in law and entrepreneurship funds educational growth outside the classroom."
He’s hopeful that the foundation’s investment will also help the growth and prosperity of local private business, which he calls “the backbone of our economy.”
“The Rodzik family story is a uniquely Windsor one, rooted in hard work, tenacity, and a keen eye to the future. We are deeply honoured that the Rodziks recognize Transforming Windsor Law as an investment worth making,” says President Dr. Rob Gordon.
For 75 years, the Rodziks have themselves been a cornerstone of the Windsor business community.
In 1945, Matthew Rodzik co-founded the National Auto Radiator Manufacturing Company Limited, which initially produced radiators for the tractors and combines produced by, among others, Massey Harris (later Massey Ferguson). By the 1950s, as auto manufacturing boomed, NARMCO (as the company is now known) re-tooled its equipment and entered the automotive stamping business, serving Chrysler, General Motors and Ford. NARMCO has always been a family business and Matthew's son, Don, who studied engineering at the University of Detroit, joined his dad after a stint at Ford. He is currently the NARMCO Group’s Chief Executive Officer, with the group now comprising nine companies in Canada, the United States and Mexico.
Don’s son, Don Rodzik Jr., likewise planned to follow his father into NARMCO, but from a somewhat different angle. After finishing his undergraduate studies at Boston College, he was eager to return home and entered Windsor Law and the University of Detroit Mercy’s Dual JD program, where he made a point of studying subjects that would be useful in the business: labour and employment law, international business. He graduated in 2000 and is now NARMCO’s Corporate Manager.
“The time I spent at Windsor Law,” he says, “was instrumental in my growth, my management style, and how I work every day.”
Many of NARMCO’s employees, in fact, including the company’s current CFO, are graduates of the University of Windsor, some from Windsor Law, and others from the engineering, business and accounting programs.
To ensure that they have the best and brightest students to draw from, however, the Rodziks know that the University itself has to keep attracting those students. A new building for the law school was key to this. With Windsor Law’s reputation growing every year, the Rodziks felt the school needed a commensurately compelling and modern home.
“With all due respect to the university, the law school needed to be updated and refreshed,” says Don Jr., who also sits on the Transforming Windsor Law fundraising committee. “It’s been the same for over 50 years. But Windsor Law is nationally recognized now, it’s one of the University’s flagship departments, and it’s something we need to tout. The graduates we’re turning out of there, the professors that we now have, are world-class, and we want to continue to be world-class.”
Don Rodzik Jr., Gail Rodzik and Amber Rodzik attend the gift announcement outside the University of Windsor Faculty of Law's Ron W. Ianni building on Friday, Sept. 11. (Photo by Dylan Kristy/UWINDSOR)
For his part, Don Sr. likens the transformation of the law building to the way his own company has adapted and evolved over the years.
“In the business world, you have to keep up with the marketplace,” he says. “It’s ever developing. The law too is ever-changing.”
“To date, we have raised nearly $5 million of our $6 million fundraising goal, largely thanks to our Campaign Cabinet, which is our fundraising board. Don Rodzik Jr. is a member of this group and he and his family have made this project a possibility with their input and financial support. We could not be more grateful for such backing from a strong, proudly rooted Windsor family,” says Dean Dr. Christopher Waters.
The Rodzik family’s philanthropy has been felt in many different corners of Windsor’s cultural and civic life, emblematic of their roots in the city but also their great affection for it. And just as their generosity has improved the city has a whole, so too do they think the new law building will enhance the entire University of Windsor.
“The law school, the medical school, the engineering school—all those post-graduate programs really add to the reputation of the university,” Don, Sr. says. “They just allow the whole university to grow.”
For the latest updates, visit the Transforming Windsor Law website.
"We could not be more grateful for such backing from a strong, proudly rooted Windsor family."
— Dean Christopher Waters
401 Sunset Avenue
Windsor, Ont., Canada