New VP of Mission Integration brings vision to Detroit Mercy campus

In a time where change is most prevalent, one must be adaptable to the consistently transforming world to be able to connect with those who you need to. Detroit Mercy is not shying away from adapting as it has hired Father Charles Oduke as its vice president of Mission Integration. 

Oduke’s mission is simple.

“Collaborate with everyone on campus to advance the mission of the University of Detroit Mercy,” Oduke said.

Fr. Oduke, who started in early August, has been involved in Jesuit education for almost 30 years, starting out in war-torn Sudan as a missionary, and eventually completing his doctorate at Boston College, while also serving as a professor of philosophy, social justice and African Diaspore studies. 

Prior to Detroit Mercy, he most recently worked at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, N.Y., where he was also  a professor of philosophy and served in the same role in mission integration. He was also director and vice president of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) office. 


While migrating from the east coast to Detroit can be a culture change for some, Fr. Oduke is no stranger to the importance of the school’s mission in relation to what it can do for the surrounding area to campus. When asked how he would compare Detroit Mercy to his experience at Boston College, Fr. Oduke pointed to the difference in the UDM student’s backgrounds, which he thinks makes the school unique. He clarified however, that no matter the difference in the demographics between the two school, “continuing that walk of education is the same.”  

As he continued to emphasize his understanding of the school’s background, Fr. Oduke later commented on the hybrid aspect of Detroit Mercy, referring to the association with both the Jesuits and the Sisters of Mercy, stating that this unique blend of ideology is like “being a child with two parents.”  

This distinctive order, along with the vast number of undergraduate and graduate programs, offers students “a place that they can be themselves,” which is integral to Fr. Oduke’s intentions of mission integration. 

He hopes in turn that these intentions will subsequently turn into a successful process of transformation, which will lead to the city of Detroit benefiting in an abundance of ways, just like the mission statement at the university sets out to accomplish.  

President Donald Taylor, who is in his second year at the helm of Detroit Mercy was emphatic in his support of Fr. Oduke, and said, “The University of Detroit Mercy draws inspiration from both of our founders, the Sisters of Mercy and the Jesuits. Our commitment to spiritual and ethical as well as intellectual growth is what sets us apart from so many other schools with secular missions. Sometimes, that can be overlooked by our students. Fr. Oduke will ensure mission is front and center in all our programs and that every person at UDM — students, staff and faculty — understands and is influenced by the life-changing power of our Jesuit and Mercy mission.” 

This trust in Fr. Oduke, who considers himself inspired by champions of social justice, speaks to the impact he will have at this university both on students and faculty, and his philosophical background will lead countless students on a journey of wholistic education that will hopefully result in a major impact on the city of Detroit.