James and Patricia Anderson
Max M. Fisher Award for Outstanding Philanthropist
Nominated by Wayne State University and Beaumont Health
James “Jim” and Patricia “Patti” Anderson stand as extraordinary examples of the philanthropic spirit. They inspire others to give and work to create a better, bright future for our communities – and they do so because of the gratitude they have for the life they have been afforded.
It all started with Wayne State University, where Jim was a hardworking engineering student. He later joined the engineering faculty while pursuing a PhD degree that included developing innovative computer mapping technology. His knowledge and entrepreneurial spirit inspired a former university student who worked at Cadillac to reach out for help to apply computer mapping technology to better understand new vehicle purchase patterns and their impact on dealership locations. That opportunity turned out to be lifechanging. Jim left the university to establish his own company – and the rest is history.
Today, Jim is the founder, president and CEO of Urban Science, a global data analytics and technology firm that uses science to help the automotive industry solve mission-critical challenges. Over the years, Jim has solidified his reputation as a problem-solver and entrepreneur. Combining his reputation with the power of science, he has made a career out of seeking out and solving the seemingly unsolvable, developing products and providing funding to enhance people’s lives, both professionally and personally.
At the end of the day, Jim will be the first to say he owes his success to the education he received at Wayne State; to Detroit, where he made major industry connections and built his company from the ground up; to Grosse Pointe, where he lives and raised his family; and to the great country we live in, allowing him to build his version of the American dream. This level of gratitude is directly carried out through Jim and Patti’s many philanthropic efforts.
It comes as no surprise that Jim and Patti are dedicated supporters of Wayne State University. They established the James and Patricia Anderson Engineering Ventures Institute, inspired by Jim’s personal journey and one of the university’s largest endowments. Embedded in the College of Engineering, the Institute fosters a culture of entrepreneurship among the faculty—envisioning commercial applications for new technology, securing patents and establishing start-up companies—while providing opportunities for students to learn best practices in applied research, technology commercialization and business creation. It trains and encourages students to not only invent solutions to real-world problems but to take those solutions to market through new businesses.
Overall, the Anderson’s wholly believe in the importance of STEM education programs and have created joint scholarships with Wayne State University and the National Black Engineering Society and the Girls Engineering Academy scholarship in Detroit, to name a few.
To Jim, “only in America does everyone get a shot at the gold ring,” which is possible because of those who serve and protect our country. The Anderson’s have made it a priority to support organizations and programs that care for and better the lives of those in active duty and those who have served, including scholarships and funding for Wounded Warriors, sponsorships STEM education at West Point, where Jim is an honoree member, sponsorships for Vets Returning Home and funding for veterans programs at Wayne State. They also provide funding for struggling veterans in northern Michigan, especially during the winter months.
Given their strong sense of community, Jim and Patti believe it is important to take steps to ensure the health of the communities you live and work in. With their desire to use science to enhance the lives of others, the Anderson’s are supporters of the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan Foundation, giving an endowment to support spinal cord injury research. Recently, they also made the largest gift in the history of Beaumont Hospital Grosse Pointe, funding an advanced, state-of-the-art, hybrid operating suite that will enhance patient care and train the next generation of surgeons. They also established an endowed fund to ensure that the hospital’s surgeons always have access to the most up-to-date technology available.
Jim and Patti also support and volunteer for several metro Detroit and Charlevoix-area charities and civic organizations, including The Helm, Hatch Detroit, Detroit Homecoming. the Charlevoix Circle for the Arts, and Bases, a Charlevoix-based substance abuse recovery organization. In addition, they have opened their homes in Grosse Pointe and Charlevoix for tours and events to support community organizations.
The Anderson’s generosity has earned them the reputation of a philanthropic power couple, giving freely of their time and resources, and making long-lasting contributions to Michigan – and beyond.