The University Record, May 22, 2000

President’s Commissions to continue work during summer

By Jane R. Elgass

Two commissions appointed by President Lee C. Bollinger earlier this year—the President’s Commission on the Undergraduate Experience and the President’s Information Revolution Commission—will be continuing their work during the summer and into the fall. Both groups plan to host public forums in fall term and present interim recommendations to the president in October or November. Both groups also have formed subcommittees to address specific issues within their charges.

Since early March, the members of the President’s Commission on the Undergraduate Experience have been actively engaged and seeking ways to address a number of important issues that Michigan will be facing over the coming decade related to the undergraduate experience.

“In the broadest perspective, the Commission is looking at a range of questions about the undergraduate experience, both curricular as well as co-curricular,” explains Provost Nancy Cantor, chair of the Commission. “The Commission is strategically addressing the ways that Michigan can use its vast resources and strengths to improve the undergraduate experience. These questions cover such issues as our fundamental mission, recruitment, admissions, financial aid and scholarship resources.

Larger sets of questions address the needs and opportunities for innovative programs and initiatives that demonstrably enhance the quality and effectiveness of the undergraduate experience. A substantial amount of work,” Cantor notes, “is taking place in subcommittees in order to shed light on these specific areas, investigate the evidence, and propose exciting directions that can strengthen our position of leadership in undergraduate education.

“The members have taken a very thoughtful approach to these areas, and the Commission plans to meet throughout the summer in order to complete its work in the latter part of fall term.”

“Also,” Cantor adds, “I believe that there is some urgency for re-examining the undergraduate experience at research universities. In fact, I would say that it is precisely our research universities that can and should take a leadership role and step to the plate. The economic and social returns to higher education, individually and collectively, reflect in large part the need for fluency and facilities in three areas that are at the heart of the mission of research universities.

“In this day and age,” Cantor says, “students must be prepared to embrace technology, to work collaboratively, and to interact with a diverse set of peoples and ideas. The scale and variety of endeavors on our campus and the commitment of our faculty (and graduate students) to keep pace with change make for an ideal setting for providing a modern education to our undergraduate students, and now is the time to do it.

“The promise of higher education today plays very much to the strengths of the research university, and thus we are presented with a tremendous opportunity. There is wonderful consensus from the Commission to address these issues,” Cantor says.

John King, dean of the School of Information and co-chair with College of Engineering Dean Stephen Director of the President’s Information Revolution Commission, says that the group’s work “is crucial not only for the future of the University, but for society. The University of Michigan has always been a leader in these areas, and this is no exception. Anytime you are out in front, you are taking risks, and it’s the job of the University to take risks in the interests of the society that we serve.

“It is already obvious,” King notes, “that the information revolution is changing almost everything, from how we live our daily lives to how we organize our work, to how we communicate; with people we know and people we don’t know. If the changes are as big as we think they are, then anything the University does that is bold in the way of charting that future is going to raise fundamental questions about the existing ways of doing business, and that’s always controversial.”

“The job of the Commission,” he adds, “is to look at this future that we’re going to create without being afraid of the implications, and, at the same time, be realistic about the University’s mission and attendant to the preservation of the abiding strengths of the University.”

Director notes that, “There are not many times in the history of an institution when there are opportunities to make critical decisions that can dramatically alter the future of the institution. The so-called ‘information revolution’ has created such an opportunity for many universities, including ours.

“Given the University’s previous history in the general area of computing, it is natural, indeed imperative, for us to take a leadership role once again in addressing how universities should evolve as a result of the information revolution.

“I hope,” Director adds, “that the Commission will help the campus identify a few truly bold, broadly encompassing, innovative and captivating new initiatives that capitalize on our comparative advantages.”

Comments and questions may be sent via e-mail to

Comments and questions on the President’s Information Revolution Commissions may be sent via e-mail to or

Members of the commissions and their subcommittees are:

President’s Commission on the Undergraduate Experience

Nancy Cantor (chair), provost and executive vice president for academic affairs; Deborah Ball, professor of education;

Carol Boyd, associate professor of nursing and director, Substance Abuse Research Center; Stephen Darwall, professor of philosophy; Jane Dutton, associate professor of psychology and professor, School of Business Administration;

Beth Genne, adjunct assistant professor of history of art and associate professor in the Department of Dance, Residential College and School of Music; Lorraine Gutierrez, associate professor of psychology and of social work; Philip Hanlon, professor of mathematics;

Royster Harper, interim vice president for student affairs; Antonia Henry, student, Inteflex Program; Ken Ito, associate professor of Asian languages and cultures; Timothy Johnson, chair and professor of obstetrics and gynecology and of women’s studies and research scientist, Center for Human Growth and Development;

J. Wayne Jones, associate dean, College of Engineering, and professor of materials science and engineering; Bobbi Low, professor of natural resources; Ryan Majkrzak, student, College of Engineering; Lester Monts, associate provost for academic affairs and professor of music;

Casey Murphy, student, LS&A; Rashad Nelms, student, LS&A; Shirley Neuman, LS&A dean and professor of English and of women’s studies; Martin Philbert, assistant professor of environmental health; Paul Resnick, associate professor of information;

Richard Rogel, alumnus; Bryan L. Rogers, dean, School of Art and Design; Ann Marie Sastry, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and applied mechanics; and David Scobey, associate professor of architecture and director, Arts of Citizenship Program.

Linda Gillum, assistant provost for academic affairs, provides staff support.


Connecting Our Size and Scale. This group is looking at the wide array of experiences and resources that are available to our undergraduates and examining ways in which the University’s large size can be most beneficial to them. Members also are taking a look at the best ways to communicate information about the University’s breadth and diversity in order to attract the best and brightest students. Members are Deborah Ball (chair), Stephen Darwall (chair), Nancy Cantor, Jane Dutton, Beth Genne, Philip Hanlon, Ryan Majkrzak and Martin Philbert.

Connecting Globally. Today’s and tomorrow’s undergraduates will live in an increasingly global world in which knowledge and understanding of many cultures will be an imperative. They also will need to know how to live in an environment in which physical location may be of little consequence. This group is looking at the University’s role in enhancing our transcultural education experiences, as well as partnerships that might be formed to strengthen undergraduate research and other experiential/community based learning opportunities that support the institution’s commitment to multicultural

experiences, qualities and people. Members are Lorraine Guttiérez (chair), J. Wayne Jones (chair), Linda Gillum, Antonia Henry, Ken Ito, Timothy Johnson, Bobbi Low, Shirley Neuman and Paul Resnick.

Connecting the Campus Communities. This group is looking at the vast developmental milestones that occur in the undergraduate experience. These experiences should enable a broad exposure to ideas and provide life-enriching exposure to different disciplines, cultural offerings, public goods and the like. Members are looking at the wide range of pathways, opportunities and learning environments that uniquely position Michigan to attract outstanding students into innovative, cross-cutting programs and processes. Members are Carol Boyd (chair), David Scobey (chair), Royster Harper, Lester Monts, Casey Murphy, Rashad Nelms, Richard Rogel, Bryan Rogers and Ann Marie Sastry.

President’s Information Revolution Commission

Stephen Director, the Robert J. Vlasic Dean, College of Engineering and professor of electrical engineering and computer science (chair); John King, dean and professor, School of Information (chair);

Susan Alcock, associate professor of classical studies; Jonathan Alger, senior attorney, Office of the General Counsel; Norman Alessi, associate professor and chief information officer, Department of Psychiatry; Brian Athey, assistant professor of cell and developmental biology and of art;

John Seely Brown, alumnus, vice president and chief scientist, Xerox Palo Alto Research Center; Paul Courant, associate provost-academic and budgetary affairs and professor of economics and of public policy; Terrence Elkes, alumnus, managing director and co-owner, Apollo Partners LLC;

John Evans, alumnus, chairman and CEO, Evans Telecommunications Co.; David Featherman, director, Institute for Social Research, and professor of psychology and of sociology; C. Olivia Frost, professor and associate dean, School of Information; Michael Gordon, professor and chair, Department of Computer and Information Systems, Business School; José-Marie Griffiths, university chief information officer, executive director, Information Technology Division, and professor of information;

Farnam Jahanian, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science; Pramod Khargonekar, professor and chair, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science; John Laird, professor of electrical engineering and computer science; Kerry Larson, senior associate dean, Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies, and associate professor of English;

Jonathan Levine, associate professor of urban planning; Wendy Lougee, associate director, Digital Library Initiatives, University Library; Shirley Neuman, LS&A dean and professor of English and of women’s studies; James E. Penner-Hahn, associate vice president for research and professor of chemistry; Nichole Pinkard, assistant professor of English;

Douglas Richstone, professor of astronomy; Lawrence Root, director, Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations, and professor of social work; James Steward, director, Museum of Art, and assistant professor of art history and of art; and B. Alan Taylor, professor and chair, Department of Mathematics.

Gary Krenz, special counsel to the president, provides staff support.


Several of the information revolution sub-committees include members from outside the Commission and outside the University.

What Should We Teach? This group is focusing on what the University should teach throughout the curriculum in digital media, information management and information technology, and what a university-educated graduate needs to know to function effectively in the emerging information society. Members are Shirley Neuman (chair); John Evans; Joseph Fantone, associate dean, Medical School, and professor of pathology; C. Olivia Frost; Michael Gordon; Philip Hanlon, professor of mathematics; John Laird; Kerry Larson; Bryan L. Rogers, dean, School of Art and Design; James Steward; and Yu Xie, the Frederick G.L. Huetwell Professor of Sociology.

How Should We Teach? This group is examining how we can best use the new technologies and ideas from the information revolution in the University’s teaching mission. Members are Nichole Pinkard (co-chair); Lawrence Root (co-chair); Susan Alcock; Paul Courant; Monika Dressler, director, Language Resource Center; H. Scott Fogler, the Vennema Professor of Chemical Engineering; Michael Gordon; José-Marie Griffiths; Ron Marx, professor of education; James Penner-Hahn; and B. Alan Taylor.

Research and scholarship. This group is taking a look at how the information revolution affects research, scholarship and creative activity, and what the University should be doing to take advantage of new opportunities in this area. Members are Farnam Jahanian (co-chair); John Laird (co-chair); Brian Athey; Dan Atkins, professor of information and of electrical engineering and computer science; David Featherman; Susan Murphy, associate professor of statistics; Eric Rabkin, professor of English; James Penner-Hahn; Douglas Richstone; and B. Alan Taylor.

eC2 (Community, Commerce and Outreach). This group is exploring what the University’s relationship should be to the external world in the information age, including such issues as new academic outreach and service opportunities, distance learning, engagement in electronic commerce and our social responsibilities in the digital environment. Members are: Norman Alessi (chair); Susan Alcock; Jonathan Alger; Terry Elkes; James Hilton, special assistant to the provost for media rights and Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Psychology; Pramod Khargonekar; Jonathan Levine; Wendy Lougee; Paul Resnick, associate professor of information; Donovan Reynolds, director of broadcasting, WUOM/Michigan Radio; and James Steward.

Creating the Vision. This group is working to determine the sources (people, documents, etc.) that should be used to educate the Commission and the University on the magnitude of the information revolution and its relevance to the University in the 21st century. Members are John King (chair), Norman Alessi, Brian Athey, José-Marie Griffiths and Wendy Lougee.

Infrastructure. This group will recommend investments to be made in the University’s basic information technology infrastructure to correct shortcomings and raise it to the levels needed for cutting-edge research, education and outreach. Members are Farnam Jahanian (co-chair); Brian Athey; Paul Courant; José-Marie Griffiths; Joseph Hardin, director, systems development and operations, School of Information; Paul Killey, director, Computer-Aided Engineering Network; S. Alan McCord, director, operations management, Information Technology Division; and Mike McPherson, LS&A director of information technology.