The University Record, March 26, 1996
Duderstadt: Road ahead for U-M involves risk, requires commitment
By Rebecca A. Doyle
"To speculate about the road ahead, we have to look back at the road we have traveled," President James J. Duderstadt told the University's faculty following the Senate Assembly meeting last Monday.
Duderstadt gave the final presentation in "Changing in a World of Change," a lecture series that focused on the role of universities in a tumultuous time of increasing technology and decreasing government funding.
Tracing the history of presidents at the U-M, Duderstadt noted that each presidential administration had been marked for characteristics that particularly fulfilled the needs of the University at that time. From Tappan through Shapiro, he noted each one's contribution to the U-M in growth, fundraising, stabilization or commitment to excellence.
He also said that in the past seven years of his administration, the University has grown stronger financially, academically and in its response to the needs of the community. Citing programs he has supported, he talked about the value of a diverse community; programs such as the Michigan Mandate, the Agenda for Women and Value Centered Management; the U-M's top ranking among public universities in research support dollars; and the financial strength of the institution as evidenced by its Aa1 rating.
"We came to a fork in the road several years ago," he said. "We could continue on our path and become stronger or we could redefine the University in a changing world.
"That involves risk," he added, "and it required a commitment and energy to create a 21st-century institution." The U -M chose to take that risk.
Facing the challenges of the future, Duderstadt said, the U-M has great resources in its people faculty, staff and students that will help the institution to lead in the 21st century in technology, outreach and excellence.
Duderstadt also echoed a list of qualities that should be found in his successor: academic credibility and a scholarly background; fiscal management abilities; leadership skills; ability to interact with legislators and understanding of the political world; personal integrity; courage; compassion; and fair-mindedness.
Thanking the faculty for their support through the years, Duderstadt called them the "heart and soul" of the University before he turned to his wife, Anne, and noted that she has played a critical role in the development of many projects at the U-M.
"She is my best appointment while I have been president at the University of Michigan," he said.