Alumnus Judge Michael Warren continues connection with Wayne State

The Hon. Michael Warren is no stranger to Wayne State University.

Warren — who graduated as a Tartar in the 1980s — met his wife, Shannon Richey, here. Their daughter, Leah, is currently in her third year in the Wayne Med-Direct program.

The Hon. Michael Warren (left) and his wife, Shannon Richey (right), with their daughter, Leah, who is a third-year Wayne Med-Direct student. Warren and Richey met in the 1980s while on the WSU Debate team.

And this year, Warren will return to campus to participate in something he and Leah created 14 years ago. It was then that a 10-year-old Leah, one of Warrens’ two children, discussed with her father over lunch the importance, and lack, of a civic calendar. She asked for his help to start a new celebration, with Patriot Week being the culmination.

Inspired by Kwanzaa’s model, in which each day is dedicated to a specific principle, Warren and his daughter created the one-week celebration with key anchor dates in mind. After some research, they selected Sept. 11 through Sept. 17 (Constitution Day) and dedicated each day to a First Principle from the Declaration of Independence — revolution, the rule of law, the Social Compact, unalienable rights, equality (racial), equality (gender), and limited government.

Traditionally, the event has included activities such as parades, picnics, festivals, panel discussions and a gubernatorial debate.

“This year, though, we decided to be a little more focused and engage the community in a serious dialogue about the issues facing the country,” said Warren, a judge of the Michigan 6th Circuit Court. “We’re having a panel discussion each day, as well as citizen dialogue. And the panel discussion is going to be anchored by former Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Stephen Markman.”

Held in collaboration with the Wayne State Student Senate, the Center for Civic Engagement, and the Center for the Study of Citizenship, this year’s Patriot Week will feature the Social Compact Forum. The event will be held Wednesday, Sept. 13, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Student Center Building’s Hilberry A/B room.


“This event fits into our scope of improving the overall student experience for our peers,” said WSU Student Senate President Hayden Johnson. “This event will help students learn to engage in civic dialogue and have respectful and productive conversations. We strive to find new solutions to a challenge that many students and faculty face, in and out of the classroom, by using student feedback to provide policy change in a systemic way by proposing legislation.”

Panelists include Wayne State’s Ronald Brown, Ph.D., professor of political science; Wayne Law professor Kirsten Matoy Carlson, Ph.D. and J.D., a leading authority on federal Indian law; Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency Director Adam Hollier; Howard Lupovitch, Ph.D., WSU history professor and director of the Cohn-Haddow Center for Judaic Studies, and  Sandra VanBurkleo, Ph.D., WSU professor of U.S. history and women/gender.

Together, they will help answer the question, “How can America better fulfill the promise of the Social Compact?” The panel will be moderated by Wayne Law’s Brad Roth, Ph.D. and J.D., professor of political science, with Warren giving the opening remarks. A panel discussion will follow, with attendees engaging in civic dialogue.

“For this event, I look forward to having the small group discussions,” Johnson said. “I only see so much around campus, so this will be a really great opportunity to have a conversation and be able to learn other perspectives of my peers around campus.”

Where it all began

While the event’s return to Wayne State has been a couple of years in the making, Warren’s time here stretches back nearly four decades. That’s when he made the decision to become a Tartar.

“Or Tar-tars, as I liked to call it,” Warren joked. “I went to Wayne State from 1985 until 1989 and was a history major. That’s relevant because one of our participants in this year’s Patriot Week program is Professor Marc Kruman, who will be facilitating the citizen dialogues. He was my advisor when I was back in undergrad. Most of the history department has moved on, but Professor Kruman has been steadfastly working there. He even taught my daughter at some point, because she also became a history major.”

Michael Warren and Shannon Richey not only met at Wayne State, but also held their wedding reception in the McGregor Memorial Conference Center.

Warren’s interest and gift for engaging in civic discourse can also be traced to his time on the Wayne State Debate Team, with a little coaxing from distinguished professor of communication and internationally recognized debate educator George Ziegelmueller.

“Everything they say about George is true, in the best way possible,” Warren said. “I did not have the opportunity to debate in high school because I was a swimmer, and it was impossible to do both. So, I kind of went blindly into this. George convinced me after having sat me in his office for about 10 minutes. He completely changed my mind because he was a great debater. And Wayne State is unique in that they cultivate and welcome people who don't have to be experienced.”

But Ziegelmueller’s debaters did come from across the country, too. And that’s how Warren met Shannon. “My wife is a couple years older than me,” he said. “She had been recruited out of the state of Washington to debate at Wayne State. So, they did recruit people from across the country, but they also allowed walk-ons like me. It was life changing how I met my wife. And I've never won an argument since.”

← Back to listing