Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Thursday, October 6, 2011

U-M will invest in new ideas for a changing world

U-M will launch a new initiative to develop innovative ideas about global challenges and opportunities, and to advance the greater good, President Mary Sue Coleman announced Wednesday.


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President Coleman's remarks

Q&A about the new initiatives

• Watch highlights or a full video of the address.

"As we approach our third century, the University of Michigan is modeling itself for the immense challenges facing the nation and the world," Coleman said. "As we have for decades, we will be aggressive in developing new approaches to teaching and research and fresh ideas that will improve people's lives."

In her annual fall address, Coleman unveiled the Third Century Initiative, a bold plan to use $50 million in existing funds during the next five years to develop innovative, multidisciplinary teaching and scholarship approaches to such topics as climate change, poverty and malnutrition, energy storage, affordable health care and social justice challenges. It will encompass teaching, research and service efforts.

President Mary Sue Coleman answers a question following her annual fall address Wednesday morning. (Photo by Eric Bronson, U-M Photo Services)  

"We see the Third Century Initiative as expanding action-based, immersive learning that will give students the skills and experiences they need to be effective leaders — leaders with the confidence to innovate, be entrepreneurial and reinvent themselves," Coleman said. "Our graduates must be able to work effectively with others who are different from themselves and in settings that are much different than anything they've experienced."

The goal of the initiative is to stimulate creative thinking among students and faculty, and develop programs that will intensify students' immersive experiences in and beyond the classroom, including international experiences, undergraduate research, service learning, entrepreneurial activities and innovative courses that encourage the role of creativity in critical thinking.

"We believe the teaching, research and service that grow out of this initiative will propel the university into its next 100 years with enormous momentum and secure Michigan's future position as the world's leading public research university," Coleman said. "We envision new programs and academic experiences that prepare graduates who aspire to advance the public good, while also advancing our research and service work to develop solutions to the world's most pressing problems."

The university is financing the initiative with existing dollars — funds from schools and colleges on the Ann Arbor campus. A robust and collaborative review process is anticipated.

In addition to the Third Century Initiative, Coleman announced another new innovative endeavor: the Michigan Investment in New Technology Startups (MINTS) initiative. For the first time, the university will directly invest in its own startup businesses. By diversifying funds that the university continually invests — not new money — U-M could inject up to $25 million in businesses created by U-M researchers during the next 10 years.

"Michigan has long been at the forefront of the social sciences, engineering, medicine and more. Entrepreneurship must now be among our accomplishments," Coleman said. "To continue being leaders, we must galvanize innovation across our campuses. MINTS is one more way to quicken that work."

Throughout her talk, Coleman cited countless examples of the university's continued impact locally, nationally and globally in areas ranging from economics, entrepreneurship and health care to sustainability, the arts and service to society.

"Michigan students, faculty and staff bend over backward to make a difference," she said. "We have remarkable achievements and strengths, and none is more essential than academic excellence. It is our bedrock, and one we must continually reinforce and deepen to address the complexities of today's world."