Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Monday, May 13, 2013

Michigan Road Scholars complete 2013 cycle through state

The 14th annual Michigan Road Scholars trek around Michigan ended on Friday, and the scholars agree it was a wise investment of time and resources.

“The pace was exhausting, but well worth it,” said Bob Grese, professor of natural resources in the School of Natural Resources and Environment, and director of the Nichols Arboretum. “I appreciate this opportunity to see some of my students’ hometowns. Michigan is really remarkable. Every region is distinct from the others. This will help me appreciate the unique personalities and perspectives my students bring to the classroom.”

  Jo-Anne Perkins, of Cascade Engineering in Grand Rapids, explains the manufacture of trash and recycling bins to the Road Scholars. (Photo by Dana Sitzler)

In its five-day whirlwind tour of the state, MRS 2013 stopped in Lansing, Grand Rapids, Traverse City, Petoskey, Sault Ste. Marie, Bay City and Detroit to meet with entrepreneurs, CEOs and small business owners, community service leaders, artists and academics.

“I was deeply impressed by the business leaders we met who are so clearly committed to the people and communities of Michigan,” said Brooks Hull, professor of economics at UM-Dearborn.

“We visited a highly sophisticated, effective recycling facility at the Goodwill Industries of Grand Rapids,” said Jorge Gonzalez del Pozo, assistant professor of Spanish at UM-Dearborn. “They’re doing as good a job for the environment as I know of, and generating revenue for their good works at the same time.”

"It was great to see some of Michigan's iconic sites — the Mackinac Bridge, the Soo Locks at Sault Ste. Marie, the dunes along Lake Michigan, the Capitol building in Lansing, and many other important landmarks with faculty from various parts of the university," said Harley F. Etienne, assistant professor of urban and regional planning in the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning.

  Greg Zimmerman (left), chair of the Department of Biology at Lake Superior State University, and U-M Road Scholars Oren Brandvain, Junji Zhu and Jennifer Zhao, along with an LSSU student (in cap), visited the Aquatic Research Lab at LSSU to discuss the complexities of the ecosystem that supports salmon in the Great Lakes. (Photo by Veronica Wilkerson Johnson)

"One of the most exciting things to witness was the power of the arts to drive development, change and social justice. Visiting with the Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation and the Front Street Writers in Traverse City were some of my personal highlights," said Petra Kuppers, professor of English language and literature and women's studies in LSA, professor of art in the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design, and professor of theatre and drama in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance.

"One of the great benefits — maybe the greatest — is getting to know faculty from all three U-M campuses and thinking about the ways we can collaborate together and with local communities to strengthen the economy and culture of the state," said Christine Modey, a faculty member in the Sweetland Center for Writing.

"When I applied to be a Michigan Road Scholar, I knew that I would have an opportunity to be exposed to the diverse communities of Michigan in ways that I would likely have never experienced,” said P.L. Ross McClain, assistant professor of education at UM-Flint.

“I could not have anticipated how quickly I would feel a sense of camaraderie and collegiality with the other Road Scholars, as well as a renewed sense of the hopefulness for how we can spearhead community engagement initiatives that will enhance both our state and university."

MRS was established by the offices of the Provost and the Vice President for Government Relations to help faculty better understand the communities and broadly diverse regions from which their students come, and to identify areas where their expertise can make a difference to Michigan communities.

“Every year, our scholars identify potential community/academic collaborations in which their expertise can make a solid contribution to current and future initiatives,” said MRS coordinator Dana Sitzler. “It happened again this year, maybe even more than in previous years.”