New Academic Year Greeting
Academic excellence, metropolitan vision, enrollment, and diversity
September 13, 2007
As the first full week of the fall semester comes to a close, I know you all share with me a full measure of excitement for the beginning of the academic year. It is a pleasure to be together once again.
We have a great many reasons to be excited this fall. The campus is in good shape despite some of the most challenging fiscal circumstances the state has ever faced. Our enrollments are growing, and the number of first-year students looks to be an all-time record for the campus. The quality of the incoming class remains very strong, and we are serving a more diverse student body, too. And a week ago we welcomed an impressive group of new faculty to the campus.
The arrival of these new students and faculty is part of the mix of things that keeps the university a lively and dynamic place. The beginning of the new academic year is an occasion to reflect again on some of our basic values and directions. It is important for us to communicate well and broadly about the many values and goals we share, and that is my purpose for this message to you.
First, it bears repeating that academic excellence is our most significant value, and the strongest commitment that binds together all of our efforts. We aim always at maintaining and enhancing the academic quality of our programs. We need to do a superlative job of recruiting and retaining great faculty, and we need to continue to attract the kind of talented, dedicated and imaginative students who can take advantage of our programs. All of these are demanding challenges!
Second, we continue to emphasize the metropolitan vision for our campus, and we continue to seek ways to maximize the impact the campus can have in this region. We are making progress in the areas we have chosen as the focus of our efforts: global competitiveness in manufacturing, race and discrimination, urban environmental issues, P-K-12 education, and regional leadership. And the campus is gaining more recognition for being a “good partner” with other organizations and groups on these issues across the region. The broadening engagement of our students in community projects is a good sign of our ability to contribute to southeast Michigan.
One key component of our vision for the campus is to increase enrollment on campus over the next 10 years from our current size of about 8,500 students to about 12,000. We can be an excellent mid-size university, and the breadth and depth of our programs will increase as we realize some of the advantages of scale that this size would permit. Our goal is not "growth for its own sake." Rather, growth is key to enhancing the intellectual and academic vitality of our campus by making it possible for us to bring in new faculty, create new programs, and broaden opportunities for learning and research. This goal also reflects our awareness that the prosperity of southeastern Michigan depends on increasing the number of college graduates in our region, and UM-Dearborn is committed to playing a part to achieve this result.
Finally, I would like to highlight the issues of diversity and multicultural experience. UM-Dearborn is well positioned to be one of the most successfully diverse campuses in the country. But we’re not there yet. We need to redouble efforts to enhance the climate for all students, faculty, and staff. We want to extend our reach into student populations who are currently under-represented in higher education. And we want to work together to establish the most supportive and nurturing environment on the campus. I am very encouraged at the diversity of the incoming class of students; now let's ensure that the educational experience of all our students is fully conducive to their success.
I am excited about the new academic year now beginning, and I very much look forward to working with all of you to realize our ambitious goals for UM-Dearborn in the months ahead.