Happy New Year to our University community!
January 7, 2004
Please accept my best wishes for the New Year. This is a season when many of us take stock of our past, while we also plan for the future. Like each of us, our University is constantly assessing its heritage while moving forward, and one of the great symbols of campus tradition will open its doors to a new life in the first week of the semester. I hope you will join me for a preview of the renovation of our magnificent Hill Auditorium this Thursday, January 8, with a ceremonial ribbon-cutting and performances by School of Music students from 1:00–2:00 PM, followed by several hours during which the public can tour the facility, from 2:00–7:00 PM. Details of the intensive work of the restoration can be found at the Hill Auditorium Reopening website.
Our University committed to the restoration of Hill several years ago, before the current budgetary situation began to affect our operations. But this cherished building is a great symbol of the excellence that we will maintain even as we cope with reductions in state support. Our identity and tradition is firmly established as the best public research university in the country, and you may be assured that the decisions the Regents, Provost Courant, the deans, the vice-presidents, and I are making will focus on our outstanding academic quality. Today’s budgetary problems are significant, but our distinction will endure in the long term.
We have a number of celebratory events scheduled for 2004, ranging from the honors we annually bestow on our students and faculty, to the many events of our new theme semester, to the announcement of our next capital campaign.
I look forward to our cycle of award ceremonies returning to their homes in Rackham Auditorium and Hill Auditorium this year. The Henry Russel lecture, the Honors Convocation, and the Graduate Exercises for graduate and professional students will all return to the locations you know so well. This year, I will enjoy these events for the first time in their traditional venues. Our students, faculty, and staff provide us with many reasons to salute the scholarly accomplishments of this distinguished university, and I hope to see you at our academic celebrations throughout the semester.
Following the success of our St. Petersburg theme semester in Autumn, we are offering a number of courses and events related our new theme semester commemorating the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. One of the highlights will be a campus conversation with the Brown sisters, whose family members were the named plaintiffs in that case. They will be on campus for a conversation with students on January 12 at 6:00 PM in Rackham Auditorium. For our tribute to Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., on January 19, we will welcome Professor Lani Guinier for a keynote address in Hill Auditorium at 10:00 AM. For details on these and many other events related to our theme semester, please consult the Brown v. Board of Education website.
In May 2004, we will publicly launch an ambitious fund-raising campaign for the University, dedicated to raising the quality of our programs, facilities, and level of support for students, research, and learning. This campaign will extend over several years, and we have already received a number of commitments for significant gifts that will enhance opportunities across the campus. I know this campaign will transform our ability to extend our aspirations for our students and our life of discovery.
I hope that each of you is facing the new year with as much resilience and promise as our great University, and I wish you all the best for a productive and happy 2004.
Mary Sue Coleman
President, University of Michigan