Coleman outlines faculty hiring program, new initiatives in speech
Outlining her vision for U-M, President Mary Sue Coleman announced significant funding for a special faculty hiring program, a new entrepreneurial initiative and an expanded arts presence on North Campus at a special address to campus Nov. 15 during the Board of Regents meeting in the Alumni Center.
"The University of Michigan must continuously change to meet and to anticipate the needs of an evolving society," she said. "To do so, we must be prepared to rethink what we do and how we do it, and to explore new paths that will lead us in entirely new directions."
As she enters a second five-year term, Coleman said she was "tremendously excited about the opportunities that lie before us as a public university" in a rapidly changing world.
To further the University's unique strengths as an institution of great breadth and scale, Coleman announced U-M will fund 100 junior tenure-track faculty positions specifically committed to interdisciplinary collaboration. "Great universities like Michigan must transcend disciplines to be truly effective in addressing societal needs," she said.
U-M will commit $10 million annually for salaries and an additional $20 million for start-up costs in the centrally funded program. (See President Coleman announces 100 new faculty >)
In an effort to encourage enterprise, Coleman announced plans for an initiative that will provide at least $100 million to bring together higher education, venture capitalists and foundations to spur entrepreneurial activity in the state. The Michigan Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative would bring together the Council of Michigan Foundations, leading private foundations and other public universities in Michigan. "This will evolve into a massive public-private partnership," she said. "It is, in effect, an investment in the people and ideas that emerge from our universities as drivers of a knowledge-based economy."
Potential directions for the Initiative include awarding grants to help sell university-born inventions to venture capitalists, resulting in new Michigan businesses, and supporting universities in training savvy entrepreneurs in all disciplines.
The C.S. Mott Foundation has awarded U-M $2 million in seed money for planning the Initiative.
"For our state to prosper, we absolutely must cultivate a stronger culture of innovation," Coleman said. "We should remember with pride that pioneers like Henry Ford, Herbert H. Dow and W.K. Kellogg shaped the 20th century and made our state a powerhouse of manufacturing and technology. And we must remind ourselves and our community that U-M was founded to improve the public welfare through engagement."
University Research Corridor
Coleman also cited the contributions of the University Research Corridor, which is a collaboration of U-M, Michigan State and Wayne State universities. "For the last year, we have worked arm-in-arm with MSU and WSU to capitalize upon our combined research assets for the state's benefit," she said. "It is probable that within five years, U-M will cross the threshold of $1 billion in research, and the contributions of MSU and Wayne State will only add to the firepower of the URC."
While preparing students for an interdisciplinary life, the University must expand the role of the arts in shaping critical thinking skills, Coleman said. One example of this is the Arts on Earth initiative, led by the deans at engineering, Art & Design, Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning, and Music, Theatre & Dance. Coleman suggested that North Campus could become an epicenter of creativity, and proposed creating an arts-based residential community U+00E2U+0080U+0093 perhaps by renovating Baits Hall along with an inter-arts center.
"It should be a nexus for creativity, because creativity is essential to critical thinking and innovation," she said.
Noting the exceptional work of the U-M health care system, Coleman said plans call for more than $3 billion in the maintenance, renovation and expansion of facilities and equipment in the next 10 years. She also said U-M will increase the size and capabilities of the core Medical Campus, and other ambulatory care sites at the East Medical Campus and in surrounding counties.
She called for better coordination between the clinical schools of medicine, nursing, pharmacy and dentistry to maximize their efforts.
"By planning together, the health sciences at Michigan will become known as a distinct — and distinctive — entity of this university," she said.
Coleman highlighted preventative measures set out by the Michigan Healthy Community initiative, which is designed to reduce medical costs while improving the health of University employees.
Outreach and Admissions
A year after opening the U-M Detroit Center, Coleman said she wants to establish a similar presence in Western Michigan.
To give greater focus on K-12 programs, the University will establish a Center for Outreach and Engagement to coordinate U-M contributions to public schools. The center was a recommendation of the Diversity Blueprints report issued following the passage of Proposal 2.
Coleman reinforced the University's heritage and mission as a public university, despite a steady decline in public funding.
"As long as we receive one dollar from the state, we will be a public university, and an exceptional one at that," she said.
Aggressive fundraising is fundamental to the University's future, Coleman said. So far, the University has reached its $2.5 billion Michigan Difference goal. "If we sustain our momentum through to the 2008 deadline, we may well reach $3 billion in philanthropy."
Strong investments also add to the University's fiscal stability, she said.
"A strong and growing endowment such as ours guarantees in perpetuity financial aid for our students, professorships for our faculty and programs that lead to new knowledge."