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DATE: May 20, 2005

UM-Dearborn embraces 'metropolitan vision'

DEARBORN---"The University of Michigan-Dearborn delivers the academic excellence of the University of Michigan in leadership and service to metropolitan Detroit," according to Chancellor Daniel Little.

Little outlined "an aspirational vision" for the future of the campus in a presentation to the U-M Regents at their meeting on the Dearborn campus on May 19.

"Over the last year, the students, faculty and staff of the University of Michigan-Dearborn have been engaged in an inclusive and comprehensive examination of our role and mission," Little said. "Our goal in this process has been to develop a new vision for the University of Michigan-Dearborn, one that focuses considerable attention on the impact that a school like ours can have on this region."

The yearlong process culminated in a campus-wide retreat in April that reflected widespread support among faculty, staff and students for the "metropolitan university" vision and mission for the Dearborn campus.

"This beginning sets out a challenging but constructive roadmap of our work for the next five years," Little said. "In a nutshell, this agenda has four related components: we need to increase enrollment; enhance student engagement (in the classroom, in student life, and in our communities); deepen academic excellence; and achieve metropolitan impact."

Little described plans to increase enrollment to approximately 12,000 student over the next decade, helping to meet the goals set out earlier this year by the Cherry Commission. Enrollment at the campus is nearly 9,000 now, and the campus has added major new classroom and lab space that will allow it to grow without incurring major new costs.

UM-Dearborn attracts one of the most competitive student bodies in the state, and was rated among the top five master's-level public universities in the Midwest in the annual guide to American colleges published last fall by U.S. News. In addition, the campus's College of Engineering and Computer Science was rated among the top undergraduate engineering programs in the country.

Nearly 20 percent of the total undergraduate student body of the University of Michigan's three campuses is enrolled in Dearborn, Little noted. In addition, approximately 80 percent of the campus's alumni continue to live in southeastern Michigan. "In all the areas where our region needs strong and capable leaders, you will find UM-Dearborn alumni working as agents of social progress in genuinely practical ways," Little said.

By identifying itself as a "metropolitan university" UM-Dearborn will be joining nearly 100 other institutions across the country that are characterized by their links with the intellectual and educational needs of their surrounding communities.

The UM-Dearborn campus has two main missions, Little said. "Our first priority is providing a high-quality University of Michigan education to the future leaders and citizens of our region," he said. "The other element of our commitment is the ambitious application of our intellectual resources directly to key regional needs and opportunities."

In his presentation to the Regents, Little cited five specific areas where the campus can make our resources can make a difference: supporting competitive manufacturing; addressing racial and ethnic discrimination; tackling environmental challenges in an urban setting; working with K-12 schools and early childhood programs; and helping regional leaders develop the complex skills they need to better serve their communities.

"These are areas where there is significant challenge, where the University of Michigan-Dearborn has real strength, and where there is potential for long-term positive impact," Little said.

This vision of the Dearborn campus also offers benefits to the entire university, Little said. "A stronger UM-Dearborn makes the University of Michigan stronger." He cited several areas where collaborations between Dearborn and Ann Arbor have strengthened the efforts of both campuses in metropolitan Detroit.

"The University of Michigan-Dearborn can become a national example of a high-quality metropolitan university, serving important metropolitan needs," Little said.

The UM-Dearborn campus was established in 1959 with a gift from the Ford Motor Company. Since that time, it has developed into a comprehensive university offering undergraduate and professional degree programs in the liberal arts and sciences, engineering, management, education and public administration.

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