Detroit business leader, engineer and philanthropist Yousif B. Ghafari becomes Wayne State's first "U.S. Ambassador" alumnusMay 15, 2008
Less than two weeks ago, Yousif B. Ghafari, chairman of Ghafari Associates gave a moving speech at Wayne State University's commencement ceremony in acceptance of an honorary Doctor of Laws degree bestowed upon him by the Board of Governors of his alma mater university. Wayne State presented the degree to honor Ghafari's "achievements in business and engineering, philanthropy and his activism at home and diplomacy abroad." Today, Yousif B. Ghafari's exemplary diplomacy abroad is recognized by United States President George W. Bush as he officially assumes his appointment as United States Ambassador to Slovenia in an official swearing-in ceremony in Washington, DC.
Yousif B. Ghafari
Ghafari, whose name adorns Wayne State's newly constructed Yousif B. Ghafari Residence Hall, is the first alumnus to achieve this status in the university's history. His previous recognition at Wayne State includes the Corporate Leadership Award in 1994 and a Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award in 1990. He also is a member of the College of Engineering's Hall of Fame.
"This two weeks will be among the most memorable in my life," Ghafari said. "It is ironic, yet appropriate, that I should assume my post as U.S. Ambassador to Slovenia just days after being awarded an honorary degree by Wayne State, where I became educated both about my profession and the importance of diversity and globalism in creating a better world."
Ghafari was one of three U.S. public delegates to the 59th United Nations General Assembly in 2004. He also was a member of a contingent that met with the prime minister of Lebanon and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at Paris III, an international donor conference seeking to build a more promising future for Lebanon.
A native of Lebanon, Ghafari moved to Detroit when he was 19 and enrolled at Wayne State University. He received a bachelor's degree in mathematics in 1974, a master's in applied mathematics and computer applications in 1975 and a master's in chemical engineering in 1981. After earning a Master of Business Administration from Michigan State University, he became a licensed professional engineer, determined to build his future on the use of computers in manufacturing design.
Ghafari, who resides in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., established his company, Ghafari, Inc. in Dearborn in 1982. It is ranked by Crain's Detroit Business as Southeast Michigan's second-largest architectural/engineering firm, and has locations in Chicago and Indianapolis. Ghafari projects have won awards from the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Construction Association of Michigan, the Engineering Society of Detroit and others. Among many notable architectural and engineering projects on the firm's resume are refurbishment of Wayne State's Old Main building and work on the new Marvin I. Danto Engineering Development Center.
"Yousif B. Ghafari is one of the Detroit area's leading businessmen and most generous philanthropists," said Wayne State University President Irvin D. Reid. "However, his most valuable and transformative contribution is his commitment -- to the community, to higher education and, ultimately, to the world."
Wayne State University is a premier institution of higher education offering more than 350 academic programs through 11 schools and colleges to more than 33,000 students in metropolitan Detroit.
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