Macomb County executive touts continuing education as a way to propel career
Macomb County chief deputy executive and Davenport University graduate Mark Deldin did not take a traditional path to secure a college degree. Rather, his route took him down various roads and through numerous twists and turns, eventually landing him at Davenport University.
“It’s important to follow your passion,” said Deldin. “It’s easy to say it’ll take too long or I’m too old. Time is going to pass anyway. What really is eight years out of 20?”
Deldin grew up in St. Clair Shores, Michigan, one of six kids. His parents married at a young age and didn’t have the opportunity to attend college. Deldin explains, “It wasn’t a focus back then like it is today.”
Upon graduating from high school, Deldin found a job with Lake Shore Public Schools as a school custodian. The position provided great health and retirement benefits, but after 12 years he’d already hit his salary threshold. He started looking around and saw opportunities in K-12 education.
Interestingly, he found you did not need a college education to become a mid-level school administrator. You simply needed the right qualities and experience and a proven ability to deliver.
Deldin continued to climb the professional ladder, serving as a maintenance director at the Oak Park School District. He also served as director of facilities management at Chippewa Valley Schools in Clinton Township and was involved with the construction of several new schools in their rapidly growing district.
While he excelled professionally during this time, he found what propelled him forward was his ability to build relationships and deal positively with people. But he soon realized that a college degree could open up more doors.
“When going through a pool of applicants, a BA is preferred. I had a ton of experience, but I didn’t have a degree,” Deldin shared. He kept seeing commercials for Davenport’s Detroit College of Business and called to learn more.
Deldin found that through Davenport University’s Detroit College of Business he was eligible for a Pell Grant to pursue his bachelor’s degree, traditionally a four-year program. To supplement the grant he applied for a loan.
“We can’t afford not to take this loan,” he told his wife.
From 1987 to 1998 Deldin took classes part-time each semester without any breaks while raising his young family. He developed a plan to achieve his goal, and he hit his stride around year seven of taking classes. Each Sunday afternoon he would do his homework for the upcoming week. This allowed him to have free time to spend with his family.
“At 42, my kids and I were doing homework together,” said Deldin. “They saw that dad was doing it the hard way. Four years of education can make a difference — it’s a lot easier to start your education from day one.”
In 1998 he achieved his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Davenport.
And now, things have come full circle for Deldin as Macomb County is partnering with Davenport University to offer scholarships to those seeking to pursue higher education.
“I’m thrilled with the partnership,” said Deldin. “It’s opportunities like these that open the door to employees at any level. Because of my personal experience, I’m passionate about professional development.”
In 2001, Deldin achieved his master’s degree from Central Michigan University in human resources administration and moved on to assistant superintendent then superintendent of Chippewa Valley Schools. Nine years later he received a call from the office of Mark Hackel, Macomb County sheriff and recently elected county executive.
“I couldn’t have told you what county government did at that time. I wasn’t looking for change, but I knew Mark Hackel and I respected what he stood for.”
Macomb County is the third-largest county in the state. It has 18 department heads and administrators behind the scenes supporting operations.
“Hearing my children talk about where they were planning to attend college, not if they were attending, was one of my proudest moments,” said Deldin. The partnership Macomb County has with Davenport to offer scholarships is helping to make this moment a reality for other families.
As chief deputy county executive, Deldin is responsible for the daily management, coordination, direction and control of county departments, facilities, operations and services. He also advises the county executive on current projects, initiatives and the findings of completed projects. He is responsible for oversight of a $1 billion budget and 15 departments serving approximately 880,000 county residents.
“I do feel things have come full circle,” said Deldin. “A college degree doesn’t only build your knowledge; it helps you focus on your soft skills, too. It helps you build relationships and deal with people. I look forward to helping others achieve what I did, regardless of where they started in their career.”