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Cleary University


A history of innovation … A history of success … A history of change.
A history of business education to transform the American marketplace.

140 Years of Excellence

In 1883, Patrick Roger (P.R.) Cleary, an Irish immigrant, founded The Cleary School of Penmanship, who wanted to provide a vital business education. Cleary sought to give opportunity, a legacy he launched and which continues today on Cleary’s bustling campuses.

For 140 years, Cleary University has welcomed any and all students eager to build skills that will be competitive in the marketplace. Cleary was the first independent college in Washtenaw County and the first college in Michigan to place a graduate in the public school system as a teacher of commercial subjects.

Over time, Cleary evolved in name and location to become Cleary Business College (1912) and later Cleary University (2002). Owen J. Cleary became president in 1940 and in 1952, was elected Michigan Secretary of State while continuing to lead Cleary College.

In 2012, Cleary reintroduced its collegiate athletic program with men’s and women’s cross country and golf teams. A flurry of athletic offerings followed, including soccer in 2013, the same year the first Cleary athlete, Elaine Lowe, won a national championship (cross country).

By 2015, Cleary University became known as #2 in the state of Michigan for return on investment of all colleges and universities – and #11 in the nation among small universities.

In 2016, we expanded to include a Detroit campus and became known as a veteran-friendly university by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency.