When Patricia Mooradian was appointed to Central Michigan University’s Board of Trustees, she found herself in yet another position to make a difference.
Replacing Patricia Maryland to serve the remainder of the eight-year term, expiring in December 2018, Mooradian is used to running large institutions while retaining a strong value for intellectual needs.
“It was a bit of a surprise,” Mooradian said. “I’ve worked with the governor before, and I’ve always let him know that I’d be willing to fit in wherever needed. He really thinks my experience in leading a complex institution would lend itself toward dealing with the challenges of higher education.”
Gov. Rick Snyder affirmed his confidence in Mooradian via a press release in early August.
“Patricia is an experienced professional and I know she will make a positive contribution to the board,” he said in the release.
The President of the Henry Ford Museum was formerly appointed to the State of Michigan Travel Commission by Gov. Jennifer Granholm. That term ended in August, and her term on the board of trustees began the same month.
“Higher education is really important to our state, to our state’s future,” Mooradian said. “I told him I’d be very interested in working and serving at CMU.”
With her experience at The Henry Ford Museum and cultural center, Mooradian felt that her background in knowledge-based institutions would serve her well at the university.
“The Henry Ford is education driven,” she said. “There are some similarities that can be drawn with CMU.”
As her first board meeting drew near, Mooradian readied herself to learn the ins and outs of the university with a zeal for leadership and public service.
“The first thing I wanted to do was learn a lot about CMU,” she said. “I talked to graduates and people who work there. I gathered information from various sources to figure out what the issues would be.”
At her first meeting, a board retreat in September, Mooradian was able to gain a strong understanding of the university’s direction.
Naming the decline in enrollment as a main issue facing CMU, she was certain the administration would rise to the occasion.
“I was very fortunate to attend the retreat,” Mooradian said. “The strategic plan was discussed and I was able to get very well grounded, to get that strategic foundation. They have very strong policies to reach their goals. We spent a lot of time on (enrollment).”
Beginning her career after graduating from Texas Christian University in 1982 with a bachelor of fine arts, Mooradian became the regional director of the Taubman Company in 1990. She worked for the shopping center developer until 2000.
Starting as the chief operating officer for The Henry Ford in 2000, Mooradian was eager for the transition from a for-profit organization to one driven by education and knowledge.
“It was a big changing world to go from for-profit to non-profit,” Mooradian said. “I wanted to do something to make a difference. It wasn’t an accident.”
In the late 1990s, Mooradian entered the Detroit Regional Chamber’s one-year leadership program: Leadership Detroit. It was this program that began her interest in branching out from money-driven corporations.
“I got exposed to a lot of different opportunities,” Mooradian said of the program. “I was ready to make a change.”
It would be about three years later that Mooradian would come to the Henry Ford and shift the focus of her career to expanding the knowledge of others. She became president in 2005.
“The more important progress is harder to measure,” Mooradian said. “You make a difference in the lives of others. You hear about it, they tell you.”
Mooradian fondly remembers a mother who’s son was struggling in school. When the boy was brought to the Henry Ford, she said his spark for history and American culture was ignited and that he now has a PHD in the subject.
“Things like that can really make a difference,” Mooradian said. “At CMU, you know you’re making a difference when you graduate people who then give back to society. That’s very rewarding. The role of higher education is to inspire the kids everyday to do something to make a difference. There are so many places to learn.”
Mooradian hoped to further the mission of higher education, despite changing industry tides.
“I think there are a lot of challenges the industry is facing,” she said. “Fundraising is very important. To maintain a campus this size, to build on the need takes capital expenditures. That money has to come from somewhere. You need good strategies to manage those issues.”
Mooradian’s son, Sam, was recently accepted into CMU. Still unsure of where he’ll end up, she expects her son to study music and engineering.
“He’d love to maybe some day be in the music industry and maybe use his engineering,” Mooradian said. “The opportunities that are available to students these days are incredible.”
CMU President George Ross is ready for the opportunity to get to work with Mooradian on the board.
“We welcome Ms. Mooradian as an outstanding leader with organizational, community and professional expertise,” Ross said in a press release. “As someone with a deep understanding and appreciation for arts, culture and history, her guidance and input will be invaluable to CMU.”