Skip to main content

Historic Construction Project Announced at President’s Freedom Celebration

June 6, 2024

Alumnus Dr. Alan Jay Wildstein and Reynolds and Reynolds each pledge $5 million for facility that will be home to Center for Automotive and Mobility Studies (CAMS)

Northwood University is thrilled to share that $10 million in generous gifts have been pledged for the construction of a facility that will house a new Center for Automotive and Mobility Studies at Northwood University, a beacon of automotive innovation and education for our community.

Northwood University President Kent MacDonald expressed, “The automotive and mobility industry of today presents a wealth of opportunities for our ambitious graduates. However, to truly excel, they need a unique combination of advanced knowledge, experience, and education that fosters future leaders. With the establishment of the new Center for Automotive and Mobility Studies, Northwood is committed to providing these opportunities and cultivating top talent for the automotive and automotive aftermarket sectors.”

During the President’s Freedom Celebration held June 6 at Northwood University, alumnus Dr. Alan Jay Wildstein and leaders from Reynolds and Reynolds announced two respective $5 million gifts for the new facility. The funds will comprise over 60% of the project’s estimated cost. We invite other entities to join us in this historic project, as opportunities exist for additional donors to contribute. Northwood plans to disclose more information on Oct. 4 during the Northwood University International Auto Show in Midland, Michigan.

President MacDonald emphasized that the entire Northwood community is deeply moved and grateful for Dr. Wildstein and Reynolds for their exceptional generosity and unwavering commitment to advancing education and fostering innovation in the automotive industry.

“These gifts mark a transformative moment for our institution and illustrate the visionary leadership and dedication that both of these industry leaders have for Northwood students,” MacDonald added. “This new facility and the Center for Automotive and Mobility Studies will enhance our educational offerings and contribute to the advancement of the automotive industry as a whole, thanks to the generous contributions of Dr. Wildstein and Reynolds.”

Wildstein is the founder, president, and CEO of the Alan Jay Automotive Network, Central Florida’s premier auto dealer group. Now in its 32nd year, the Network has grown from one dealership to multiple locations throughout southern Florida and Michigan.

Pictured from left, Northwood University President Kent MacDonald and Dr. Alan Jay Wildstein, founder, president, and CEO of the Alan Jay Automotive Network.

“Northwood University played a significant role in shaping my career in the automotive industry,” Wildstein stated. “I am honored to give back to the university and help create a cutting-edge facility that will benefit students for years to come.”

Reynolds is the leading provider of software, services, and forms in automotive retail.

Pictured from left, Northwood University President Kent MacDonald and Chris Walsh, president of Reynolds and Reynolds.

“As the automotive industry continues to thrive, we need creative, highly educated, and talented leaders eager to innovate and bring their ideas to fruition,” said Chris Walsh, president of Reynolds. “Reynolds is proud to have a part in providing Northwood students a place to learn, grow, and become leaders at OEMs, dealerships, and companies dedicated to improving outcomes for both.”

The new facility will be one of the largest construction projects in our history, replacing the current N.A.D.A. Hotel and Conference Center. It will feature state-of-the-art academic classrooms, a conference center, upgraded hotel accommodations, and an inviting lobby.

We are dedicated to honoring Alden B. Dow’s architectural legacy in the new facility’s design, a fitting tribute to his early intellectual and financial support for Northwood University.

The guidance structure for the Center for Automotive and Mobility Studies (CAMS) will include an advisory council comprised of automotive industry leaders, ensuring it remains at the forefront of automotive education. This council will provide strategic guidance, industry insights, and support for the Center’s initiatives.

“CAMS will build on decades of success Northwood has achieved in the automotive education space, and it will be guided by countless alumni who have become respected industry leaders. We have an advantage because we are driven by skilled and insightful people moving us forward at top speed,” stated Dr. Matthew Bennett, Vice President of Strategic Alliances and CAMS.

CAMS will encompass undergraduate and graduate education, non-credit and professional training for industry-focused organizations, and innovative research by renowned faculty. Educational offerings and opportunities include:

CAMS will solidify Northwood’s position as the premier destination for auto industry insights and education, thanks to partners like Dr. Wildstein and Reynolds. They are looking to Northwood to help develop talent and future leaders for the automotive and mobility industries.

In recognition of their generosity, the new facility will bear the name of Alan Jay Wildstein, and the atrium and conference center within the new facility will be named after Reynolds, reflecting their status as a global leader in the automotive world. Additionally, two classrooms will be named in honor of Michael Witham and Larry and Diane Wildstein.

Construction of the new facility will begin once architectural plans are finalized, which is expected to be in the coming months. The goal is to construct the facility within the next two years, with the Center fully operational by 2026. This timeline ensures the new Center will be ready to welcome students and industry professionals in a timely manner.

Dr. Arthur Brooks presents the keynote at the 2024 President’s Freedom Celebration at Northwood University.

Renowned author keynotes 2024 President’s Freedom Celebration

Thursday’s President’s Freedom Celebration was keynoted by Dr. Arthur C. Brooks, a best-selling authorHarvard University professorcolumnist for The Atlantic, and free-market advocate.

Brooks discussed his latest best-seller, “Build the Life You Want,” which provides a research-based work plan that meets readers wherever they are and shows them how to make greater happiness a choice. It combines their decades of experience studying happiness from every angle to show readers how to improve their lives now – instead of waiting for the outside world to change.

“You can be happy if you do the work — it’s not a question of feelings,” Brooks said. “Don’t leave it up to chance because you don’t have to.”

Among other advice, Brooks advised those in attendance to work daily on a “happiness portfolio” that is comprised of faith, family, friends and work. He encouraged everyone to help others find happiness through enjoyment (not pleasure), satisfaction (earned success), and purpose.

“This is a happiness movement, as far as I’m concerned, and I need you with me on that,” Brooks said. “…This is not just a university of good ideas and good values; this can also be the university that is the essence of bringing America back to its happiness promise that our founders gave to us — and that can truly be Northwood University’s gift to America and America’s gift to the world.”

“Dr. Brooks’ insights on happiness, freedom, and economic opportunity inspired all in attendance,” President MacDonald stated. “Combined with the announcement of the significant donations from Dr. Wildstein and Reynolds to help fund the construction of a facility to house the new Center for Automotive & Mobility Studies at Northwood University, this year’s President’s Freedom Celebration was exceptional!”

More From Northwood

Forge Your Path Forward