University of Michigan
Bicentennial Planning Committee
Charge to the Committee
One of the oldest public universities in the United States, Michigan can claim central responsibility in shaping the uniquely American model of the modern university: an institution that combines research, education and practical service and that is broadly accessible while also oriented toward educating leaders. The University grew out of the remarkably progressive visions of individuals such as Augustus Woodward, Gabriel Richard, Stephen Mason, John Peirce, and Henry Tappan; they saw the challenges of their day and responded with an institution that transcended those challenges. It is an institution of many firsts — and of some stumbling along the way; it has been a sculptor of academic disciplines and a generator of practices widespread in higher education; it represents a pinnacle in the aspiration and implementation of public higher education. After two hundred years, we will have much to celebrate and much to look forward to.
Today the University and higher education generally face numerous challenges, as we also know: What form should education take in our age? What contributions can we make to critical social and global issues, such as sustaining our planet, expanding the liberating power of education, forging international communities? How can we harness, mediate and extend the potential of new technologies? What roles can and should the university play in today’s society? What does it mean to be a university of the world? The Bicentennial should allow us to leverage the past in looking to the future.
Centuries are conventional timespans, but we know that they have symbolic resonance. In 2017, the University steps into its third century — something we will only do once. It is an opportunity to reflect, to assess, to project, and to lead. In brief, the Bicentennial gives us many opportunities:
- To celebrate and better understand our past.
- To highlight U-M’s seminal role in the development of higher education, its disciplines, organization and goals.
- To reaffirm the University’s commitment to core values in a new era.
- To build on U-M’s historical legacy in setting directions for the third century.
- To lead in defining public higher education in the current age.
- To initiate a national and international conversation about the future of public higher education.
- To leverage resources, support and critical thinking for the betterment of the University.
- To reconnect our various constituencies and communities at a key milestone.
The Bicentennial Planning Committee, will be appointed by the president and will be composed of members of various constituencies of the University. The committee will report to the president. It is the job of the committee to develop a set of recommendations, for consideration by the president and executive officers, concerning the scope and key elements and aspects of the Bicentennial.
The committee’s report to the president is due at the end of the 2011-12 academic year.
When the committee has submitted its report and recommendations have been adopted, the committee will disband. Subsequent detailed planning will be undertaken by special committees and offices, under the guidance of a steering committee.
Principles and Guidelines
The president and executive officers have adopted a set of principles and guidelines, to guide the planning process for and the celebration of the Bicentennial. Those principles and guidelines are attached to this charge and should inform the committee’s deliberations and recommendations.
Specifically, the Bicentennial Planning Committee is charged:
- To recommend specific themes, if any, and an intellectual framework for the Bicentennial. What are the ideas under which we want our Bicentennial to have an impact, for us, for higher education, and for our society?
- To frame the intellectual program of the Bicentennial.
- To recommend additional components of the Bicentennial, including the celebration, initiatives, etc., and to identify a preliminary plan for “anchor” events and projects.
- To apprise itself of ongoing, emergent, or contemplated plans and initiatives underway at the University that may be relevant to the Bicentennial and to suggest ways in which they can be incorporated into planning.
- To solicit input from University constituencies in its deliberations and to promote planning for the Bicentennial among those constituencies.
- To identify and recommend goals and objectives for centrally planned activities.
- To recommend the timing of Bicentennial activities — e.g., should celebrations and programs commence or conclude in 2017? should they cover an academic year or a calendar year? to what extent should lead-up activities be encouraged or undertaken in the years prior?
- To recommend an initial set of special artifacts or commissions to be undertaken (of the sort that would require significant lead time).
- To recommend ways in which to engage the various constituencies of the University in planning for the Bicentennial and in the celebration itself.
- To recommend administrative and oversight structures for the Bicentennial planning.