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Updated 12:15 PM June 6, 2005




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U-M-Dearborn embraces 'metropolitan vision'

U-M-Dearborn delivers the academic excellence of the University of Michigan in leadership and service to metropolitan Detroit, Chancellor Daniel Little told the Board of Regents May 19 as he outlined a vision for the future of the campus.

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

"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 the plan to increase enrollment to approximately 12,000 students during 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. New classroom and lab space has been added, allowing the campus to grow without incurring major costs.

U-M-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 & World Report. In addition, the 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 on the three U-M campuses is enrolled at Dearborn, Little said. In addition, approximately 80 percent of the campus' alumni continue to live in southeastern Michigan.

"In all the areas where our region needs strong and capable leaders, you will find U-M-Dearborn alumni working as agents of social progress in genuinely practical ways," he said.

U-M-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. The other element of our commitment is the ambitious application of our intellectual resources directly to key regional needs and opportunities."

In his presentation, Little cited five specific areas where the campus 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.

This vision of the Dearborn campus also offers benefits to the entire university, he said. "A stronger U-M-Dearborn makes the University of Michigan stronger."

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