Jim Jarosik, Liggett's Future Is Built On Its Past

On a visit to Grosse Pointe earlier this year, Jim Jarosik '77 toured University Liggett School for the first time in many years. In some ways, Jarosik saw the school with fresh eyes, as he experienced a whole new Liggett, physically improved by many upgrades over the years. Yet the authentic feel of the school remained intact, strong enough to transport Jarosik right back to his own years as a student at Liggett.
"It brought back so many memories," Jarosik says, building a mental image of the cafeteria and the faculty room where teachers would eat lunch together. "When they opened the door, all the cigarette smoke would billow out," he laughs. "I remember that." It was, after all, the 1970s.

"There was a student gathering area, where we'd come in to the school in the morning and hang out. We'd sit there and laugh with the other kids and make jokes. That's still there," he says.

Also untouched by time is the auditorium where Jarosik played in the pit band for theater productions. "Maybe the colors were different, but it is virtually identical otherwise. It brought back memories for me because my extracurricular time was centered around that area."
His love for music is still strong, and in retirement from a career in finance and real estate, he spends time analyzing the songs of artists like Stevie Wonder and Steely Dan, playing keyboards and guitar, even writing and producing some of his own original work for fun on occasion.

Music balanced his post-Liggett academic life at the Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania, and stuck with him after he moved to the New York City area working first at Chemical Bank and then with The Related Companies and its founder, Michigan native Stephen M. Ross.

Specializing in retail, Jarosik worked early in his career providing financing to Midwest shopping center developers including Michigan-based developers A. Alfred Taubman and Jerry Schostak. Switching from finance to development in the late 1980's, Jarosik became a pioneer in adaptive rehab, working to develop New York City spaces into urban-sized Kmarts, Targets and Home Depots. After a successful stint in consulting, he retired in 2009. Today, he dedicates time to his family and, while splitting time between homes near Philadelphia and Charleston, SC, he lends real estate and finance expertise to select nonprofits.

Liggett was instrumental in building the confidence and assuredness needed to work with individuals at the top of the business world, even from the age of 22 or 23, Jarosik says. "I went to school with Fords and Hudsons and Strohs, but also with kids from around metro Detroit," he says. Then, as now, everyone benefitted from the blended diversity at Liggett, he says. "It's clear they are continuing to fulfill that mission."

Though he's long given back financially to Liggett, Jarosik supports providing opportunities to those with ability and need, as well as enriching the music and economics programs at the school.

Through planned giving, Jarosik is helping secure Liggett's future, a taste of which he experienced when he walked the halls of the Manoogian Arts Wing, impressive, he says, in its size and breadth of focus. He looked in on the library, and the Middle School, before moving on to the Lower School, where he spent fourth and fifth grades, attending class with fellow students who remain his close friends, even today.

But what impressed Jarosik most was the positive energy he soaked up during his tour, courtesy of Liggett's current student body. Perhaps he even saw a glimmer of himself in each of them, and recognized that enthusiasm so common among Liggett students.

"You can see it on their faces," Jarosik says. "They are making progress toward their individual purposes, and achieving purpose in life is pretty darn important."