Mary Buikema, who joined the Law School in 2016 as director of major gifts, has been appointed as assistant dean of development and alumni relations. She has been serving in that role on an interim basis since summer 2023.

As the assistant dean, she is responsible for the planning, implementation, and management of all development and alumni relations programs for the Law School, connecting the school with more than 23,000 alumni in some 80 countries. That includes oversight of large-scale events like Reunion, alumni receptions in cities around the globe, alumni and student mentoring programs, and working with donors on gifts ranging from annual commitments to the Law School Fund to multimillion dollar endowments.

“I am thrilled that Mary has agreed to serve as our next assistant dean for development and alumni relations,” said Interim Dean Kyle Logue. “This role is pivotal in strengthening our connections with our alumni and enhancing our development efforts. I am confident that Mary’s expertise and passion will lead us into a new era of growth and success.”

Buikema said she is thrilled to lead her team and continue working with alumni and friends who wish to support Michigan Law.

“I have the unique privilege of interacting with our diverse and vibrant alumni community—a role I cherish deeply. Working with alumni gives me the chance to see firsthand the incredible impact of their achievements on the world. From leaders in law, business, and public service to innovators and educators, our alumni embody the ethos of our institution and extend its legacy far beyond our campus. Witnessing this impact motivates me every day—it fuels my commitment to ensure Michigan Law supports our alumni as effectively as they have supported it.”

In her eight years with the Law School thus far, she says that she continues to be impressed and inspired by the passion of the alumni community.

“In every event we host and each project we embark on, your enthusiasm and commitment are evident. It’s a pleasure to facilitate these connections and see the tangible results of our combined efforts. The active participation and support of our alumni make it possible for us to continue our mission, and for that, I am profoundly grateful.”

Building on the past for a brighter future

Buikema’s reverence for the Law School is fueled by shared stories, which she says are a common thread for students, staff, faculty, and alumni alike. 

“I’m inspired by the stories most of all,” she said. “Connecting with alumni brings the rich history and promising future of our institution together. Each story shared, adds a new layer to our collective identity. In meeting with alums, it’s amazing what they take away from their experience at the Law School. They often talk about a professor or class, but sometimes they’re affected most by a librarian, faculty assistant, administrator, or someone in the Lawyer’s Club cafeteria. You never know what or who people might remember. These stories are vivid reminders of how Michigan Law continues to influence so many lives across different generations and geographies.”

Eager to build on the school’s existing relationship with the alumni community, Buikema hopes to expand her team’s reach.

“My vision is to make Michigan Law accessible for all of our alumni,” she said. “I want to be a good steward, and that entails evaluating where we’ve been and how we can use our resources efficiently, thoughtfully, and inclusively in the future.”

At the same time, she recognizes that the ongoing engagement and support of Michigan Law’s alumni also plays a crucial role in shaping the future of its students. 

“Through mentorships, networking, and philanthropy, our alumni help provide the resources and opportunities necessary for the next generation to succeed. This cycle of giving back is not just inspiring—it’s essential to the continuous growth and success of our institution.”

Community is what counts

Being philanthropically involved herself, Buikema practices in her personal life what she preaches in her work life. She understands that the value of financial support goes both ways.

“Giving makes me feel part of something bigger than myself,” she said. “We can accomplish more together than we can individually, and there’s an energy, ownership, and investment to that.”

As Buikema embarks on her next chapter, she instills a sense of excitement into her leadership planning, celebrating what is most beloved about the Law School and drawing on its preeminent reputation in a rapidly changing world.

“It’s a great privilege to sustain this institution’s foundational stability and importance as a premier law school through our fundraising campaigns,” she said. “And it’s an honor to preserve Michigan Law’s history and legacy while helping create a vision for the future.”