Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Monday, March 14, 2011

Regents to meet near site of U-M's founding in 1817

The Board of Regents will hold its March meeting Thursday at the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel in Detroit, not far from where U-M was founded.

When U-M was established in late summer of 1817, it had no home. A month later, the People of the Three Fires (the Odawa, Ojibwe and Bodewadimi), donated nearly 2,000 acres in Detroit to be used for the fledgling college, where Native Americans would be welcome to enroll. The histories of Detroit, the native peoples of Michigan, and the university have been intertwined ever since.

"Detroit is our state's most important city, and the University of Michigan is committed to its vitality and influence," says President Mary Sue Coleman in a message posted to www.umich.edu/detroit. "The university's engagement in Detroit complements our partnerships throughout the nation and the world."

More than 9,700 current U-M students (more than 16 percent of the total enrollment on all three U-M campuses) are from Wayne County, 1,200 of whom call Detroit home. Altogether, Southeast Michigan — Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties — account for nearly one-third of U-M's three-campus combined currently enrolled students.

And Wolverines stay in the community after graduation. Of the approximately 199,600 U-M alumni now living in Michigan, about 64 percent (almost 127,000) live in Southeast Michigan, with nearly 6,000 residing in Detroit.

U-M has long-standing relationships with many Detroit-area businesses, including the Big Three automakers — Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler — as well as other companies such as DTE Energy and North American Bancard. The university's Business Engagement Center has collaborative agreements with 253 Southeast Michigan entities, including 221 companies and 32 community-based organizations such as the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, Automation Alley, Wayne State University and Macomb County Community College.

Every year, scores of Detroit-area patients turn to the U-M Health System for advanced specialty care, while researchers at Detroit-based institutions collaborate with UMHS scientists to make discoveries in areas ranging from cancer to chronic pain.

Recently, three Detroit schools joined a UMHS-led, donor-funded effort to reduce childhood obesity. Project Healthy Schools is one among dozens of productive collaborations between U-M and the City of Detroit, many of which are listed at www.umich.edu/detroit.

U-M faculty, students, and staff can be found teaching, learning, and providing service in Detroit in the areas of arts and culture, community action and service, economic development, government and public policy, health and safety, instructional services and outreach, legal resources, professional development services, and sustainability and the environment.

The University Research Corridor — a partnership of U-M, Wayne State University and Michigan State University established in late-2006 — is committed to expanding and capitalizing on the knowledge-based potential of Michigan and each of its regions, including Detroit and Southeast Michigan.

URC's many successes include the 2010 World Stem Cell Summit, which brought to Detroit's Renaissance Center more than 1,200 of the most influential stem cell stakeholders from more than 30 countries representing the fields of science, business, policy, law, ethics and advocacy.

The regents typically meet 11 times each year, nine times in Ann Arbor and once a year in Dearborn and in Flint. The March 17 venue will give Detroiters a convenient opportunity to attend. The meeting begins at 2 p.m.

The regents, chosen by voters in statewide elections, look forward to meeting and hearing from constituents, and encourage people to sign up to speak at the time set aside in the meeting for public comments. Requests to share public comments must be submitted at regents.umich.edu/meetings/publform.html no later than 9 a.m. Wednesday.

The university historically has reached out to constituents statewide. The regents met in Grand Rapids in 1998 and 2010, and at Interlochen in northern Michigan in the early 1980s. The regents also have hosted community meetings in Dearborn, Detroit, Flint and Grand Rapids as part of presidential searches.