The University Record, January 23, 1996

U-M-D faculty, staff, students want president to recognize unique features

By Terry Gallagher

Holding up a copy of last week's issue of the Record, U-M-Dearborn Prof. Daniel E. Moerman noted the report that U-M supporters in the western part of the state expect the next president of the University to be able to walk on water.

"We assumed that as a given," Moerman said at the Regents' presidential search forum held on the Dearborn campus Jan. 18. "The question is not whether the president can walk on water, but in what direction do we want that person to walk."

Moerman, the William E. Stirton Professor of Anthropology, was one of 18 members of the U-M-Dearborn community to address the Regents at the session, which was moderated by Chancellor James C. Renick.

"Of course, we'd like to see more support for the regional campuses," Moerman said. But he noted his long-standing affiliation with the University, where he earned three degrees and has taught for more than 20 years, where his parents met as undergraduates in the 1930s, and where his daughter earned a degree in 1992. "We hold this great institution in trust for the people of Michigan, for the people of this country, and for the people of the world," he said. "We need a president who will be able to keep the institution as vibrant, as embracing, as challenging and as rewarding as it has been over the decades."

Other speakers at the session included alumnus Ismael Ahmed, director of the Dearborn-based Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services; Andrew Mazzara, president of Henry Ford Community College; John Poster, dean of the U-M Dearborn School of Education; faculty members Marcy Bauman, Lawrence Berkove and James Knight; as well as several students, staff members and alumni of the campus.

Most of the speakers encouraged the Regents to select a president who would recognize the distinctive features of the regional campuses, including their emphases on undergraduate education, co-op and internship experiences, and strong connections to the regions they serve.

Douglas Keller, a 1977 graduate of the Dearborn campus and chief executive officer of Applied Engineering Technologies, an Ann Arbor-based automotive supplier, served on the alumni committee that took part in the University's last presidential search. He drew the Regents' attention to the progress that the Dearborn campus has made over the last decade and asked them to consider its distinctive characteristics when selecting a new leader for the University. "At that time, this campus was a diamond in the rough," he said. "Now it's a precious gem."

At the close of the session, Regent Nellie Varner emphasized that the regional campuses will be represented in the search. "You will not be left out; you will not be a stepchild," she said. "The key is to get someone who clearly understands the uniqueness of the Flint and Dearborn campuses."

Other Regents who attended the session were Deane Baker, Shirley M. McFee, Rebecca McGowan, Andrea Fischer Newman and Philip H. Power.