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Cleary Graduates Go Far – the Story of Our Alumni

Cleary University has been around since 1883, so we have a lot of alumni who’ve come through our doors. 

Of course, over the years, the Cleary experience has evolved and changed, to the 21st century business arts education it is today. Our alumni offer different stories and perspectives, different reasons for coming to Cleary, and different reasons for engaging once they graduate.  

In this blog, we want to share some of the special things that our alumni say made them glad they chose to attend Cleary

  1. You learn tools that will help you in real life. Dan Milstein says “choice, not circumstance, determines your success,” and his choice to attend Cleary for business management was one of those choices he’d make again if he had to do it over. The CEO of Gold Star family of companies, which operates 49 mortgage lending offices nationwide, sports management group, book publishing, film production and venture capital businesses, Milstein was successful in business before he achieved his degree. He decided to pursue a Cleary education because he felt he needed that knowledge foundation to move him even further ahead. “You need street smarts and book smarts,” he says. “That’s why I chose Cleary. Because unlike any other traditional university, Cleary professors are business people themselves and all the classwork focuses on how to build business or help your place of employment or workplace to be better. Cleary provides real life experience, in classrooms and online. You learn tools that will help you in life.” 
  2. You become equipped to approach business more strategically. “Cleary validated a lot of my previous learning,” says Steve Mangigian, managing partner of Zingerman’s Coffee Co. and Zingerman’s Candy Co. “And, it boosted my business abilities because now I have the textbook knowledge to back up my natural entrepreneurial instincts,” he adds. “My Cleary education gave me a solid foundation to validate business assumptions and approach problems in the business sphere.”  
  3. You are welcome, no matter your life path. Mangigian did not finish his undergraduate degree until he was 36. He did well in life and in business, but school wasn’t his thing – until it was. When he came to Cleary for his master’s, no one looked askance at his non-traditional approach to higher learning. Milstein was born in the Soviet Union and emigrated to the United States. He’s now the author of five books and in addition to his successful nationwide residential lending company, he is well known as a sports agent, specializing in high-end NHL players. He speaks regularly to Cleary students about how anything is possible if you have the drive and put in the effort – and if you have teachers and mentors who believe in you, too, which he found at Cleary. 
  4. You’re not just a number – you can have close relationships. Mangigian and Milstein are both very fond of Cleary, and close with several Cleary leaders. They text regularly with Matt Bennett, Senior Vice President, Institutional Advancement. “Cleary’s sweet spot is having intimate connections with students and alumni,” Mangigian says. “You’re not just a number. They go a long way to make sure I feel a part of what’s going on at the university.”  
  5. You learn to pay it forward. Milstein served two terms on Cleary’s board and received an honorary doctorate in 2012. Mangigian taught business management at Washtenaw Community College for a few years. He believes strongly in “using my degree by turning around and helping others receive the benefit of that education.” Milstein agrees. “I’ll probably teach a class at Cleary at some point,” he says.