Scholarship to be created in memory of former faculty member

The faculty of the School of Information Sciences has launched a campaign to name a scholarship fund in memory of their late colleague and friend Dr. María Gonzalez. María inspired faculty, alumni and students alike, teaching in the classroom and working in the community, at organizations like Detroit’s co-working and business incubator, the Green Garage.

Former SIS faculty member Maria Gonzalez
Photo by Mandy Joslin

María was born in Havana, Cuba, in 1950, the only child of Alberto Gonzalez and Elena Marinas. She spent later childhood in Tampa, Florida, and later was awarded a scholarship to UCLA as an undergrad. She went on to become one of only a few women in the Kent State Architecture program in the early 1970s. She became an architect and construction manager who ran her own business in Seattle in the 1980s and 90s before moving into librarianship and academia. She was a Gates Scholar during her graduate and doctoral work. She loved urban life deeply, and love Detroit particularly. She saw the power of connecting to history, and she loved teaching.

“In María's class, our minds were opened to the unexpected connections between concepts and disciplines. We integrated theory with practice, and we grew as leaders and built connections between one another by being expected to lead discussions in class,” said former student Matthew Piper.

María introduced Piper to the Green Garage where he is head of operations, communications and member relations. “But most importantly, we as students became integrated with the neighborhood and the city around us. That integration with the city was a huge step forward toward the life I have built in Detroit in the decade since. This is the enduring gift she gave me, a gift for which I will be forever thankful,” he said.

After leaving Wayne State María taught Archival Method in the History program at Rutgers - Camden and Temple. She did independent research as a consultant for the Winterthur/University of Delaware program in Art Conservation and worked as a Preservation Specialist before retiring following breast cancer treatment. She traveled widely, and especially loved Route 66, Italy, and Paris.

María died in October 2020 from complications related to ALS, a disease she was diagnosed with less than 8 weeks before going into home hospice care. She is survived by her partner of 20 years, Consuela (Chela) Metzger, Head of Preservation and Conservation for the UCLA Library, as well as friends and former students all over the United States and beyond.

María was a leader among the local bilingual, urban, and activist communities. Her career and community service remains a model for current and future Information Warriors. The María Gonzalez Scholarship Fund will honor María’s memory by supporting a deserving student working on the collections of underrepresented communities in the Walter P. Reuther Library, Archives of Labor & Urban Affairs, at Wayne State University.   

“María had a contagious smile and made friends everywhere she went. She was always the first one to jump up and help people and that is why students, faculty and staff adored her,” said Kim Schroeder, a lecturer and coordinator of the SIS archival program. “I’m glad to be able to honor her in this way.”

Giving Day 2021 logoThe university community will come together for Giving Day 2021, a campus-wide fundraising event. Join the School of Information Sciences by donating to the María Gonzalez Scholarship Fund on April 8 to maximize your gift’s impact. Gifts of any size are welcome at any time, but gifts totaling up to $1,200 will be matched by the generosity of School of Information Sciences faculty on Giving Day, April 8.

When you make a gift, in the section that reads “Notes about the gift,” please note your gift is in memory of María Gonzalez and select the designation School of Information Sciences Scholarships

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