Future Directions: Shaping the Michigan Difference
Remarks presented to the Board of Regents
Pendleton Room of the Michigan Union
April 22, 2004
I want to welcome the deans, faculty members, staff, and students who have joined us.
Today, I am looking forward to introducing several aspirations and initiatives for the future direction of our University.
Every university president encounters the need to balance an ongoing agenda with new priorities that, combined, will shape the future of the institution. In my two presidencies, I have learned that sometimes the issues choose the president, but at other times, the president can choose the issues she wants to advance.
When I arrived on campus twenty months ago, we faced some monumental events that affected not only the University, but the entire nation.
Last year, we dealt with opportunities and challenges that many universities do not encounter within a single decade, or sometimes, ever.
I have watched the great monuments of our architecture come back to life this semester, with the reopening of Hill Auditorium and the Rackham Building. We have launched the ambitious Life Sciences Institute. We overcame the investigation into our former basketball program with the triumph of the championship at the National Invitation Tournament. And, we had the great privilege of learning how it feels to win landmark decisions at the Supreme Court of the United States.
I could not have led this University successfully through the critical final stages of those achievements without the help of many of you in this room, and I thank you for your wisdom and your support throughout these months, which have been so memorable for me and historic for the University.
But now it is time to move forward.
I want to ask our campus community to work with me to focus on the future of the University. It is now my opportunity to turn our energy to the agenda that we choose as leaders of this great institution. I will ask our campuses to devote much of the next academic year to developing the initial blueprint I am sharing with you today.
There are two reasons it is critical to begin this process now.
The first is the budget situation we have been facing. We know how serious the continued loss of state funding has been, and we established the protection of our core academic activities as our guiding principle, so that we will emerge with our excellence intact and even strengthened.
Budgetary constraints do not call for timid measures, but for wise action.
On a second front, we will continue to pursue a host of long-range ambitions as we launch the public phase of our comprehensive capital campaign next month. Private giving will animate our vision and goals, in every campus unit and collectively for the institution.
We will focus on the difference our University will make in the future as it has made for almost two centuries both on the lives of our students and in the world beyond our campuses. Appropriately, we will title the campaign “The Michigan Difference.”
In conjunction with this campaign, and the future it will help us realize, we are shaping the guiding direction for the University that will deepen impact of the Michigan Difference in the next decades and beyond.
Today, I will outline several aspirations and initiatives I am presenting to our campuses to explore and develop. These ideas have evolved as I have immersed myself in the extraordinary life of our University.
I am confident that you share my commitment to a rededicated effort to sustain and elevate the character that makes this institution unique.