Inauguration of UM-Flint Chancellor Ruth Person
April 17, 2009
Today is a most significant day: Significant for the University of Michigan-Flint community, significant for the larger U-M family, and, perhaps most important, significant for the state of Michigan.
Today, as we inaugurate a new chancellor, we celebrate the value, the rewards, and the impact of higher education, in a state that absolutely must embrace its colleges and universities as gateways to a prosperous future.
And the University of Michigan-Flint is at the forefront of institutions that can make a difference in a community that is always looking to improve itself and its contributions to society.
There has never been a more critical time in our state to stand up and say: We need higher education.
Just this week, a report from Michigan Future delivered this message loud and clear. It told us that jobs requiring only a high school diploma are evaporating, and the real growth in employment is in fields that demand a college degree.
The industries that built our state – jobs in construction and manufacturing, jobs held by many, many people in Michigan – are not the growth industries of the 21st century. The prosperity that any of us wants – for our personal growth and the wellbeing of our families and communities – that prosperity comes with a higher education.
That is why the University of Michigan-Flint is so vital, and why our celebration today is so significant.
The University of Michigan has always been fortunate to be so closely aligned with Flint, because this is a community that believes in knowledge and the power of education.
There have always been close ties between the campus and the Flint community. It was the citizens of Flint who, nearly 60 years ago, asked the Board of Regents to establish a four-year campus here, in Genesee County.
We began as a two-year school, with an eye toward growing. The state Board of Education also liked the idea of a four-year college in Flint, but without a connection to the University of Michigan. That was wholly unacceptable to the community, however, and what had been a move to eliminate U-M from Flint instead turned into the four-year Flint Senior College of the University of Michigan.
As a university, we owe a tremendous debt to the citizens of Flint, to visionaries such as Charles Stewart Mott and the foundation that bears his name, and to the faculty, staff and alumni who over the years have advanced this institution.
I have said it before and I will repeat it today: No university in this state has stronger ties to its neighbors. That is what makes UM-Flint such a valuable asset not only to Flint and Genesee County, but to the University of Michigan system. You exemplify our mission to serve the people of Michigan and beyond.
This brings us to 2009, and the seventh chancellor of UM-Flint, Dr. Ruth Person. As an alumna of Michigan, she embodies leadership. As a librarian, she advocates learning, discovery and generating new knowledge. As an administrator, she believes in collaboration, a skill that is critical to succeeding in today’s world. And as a university chancellor, she engages with her community, because an effective university is one that works arm in arm with its neighbors to move forward, together.
She is the ideal person to lead this campus at a time when higher education must be the ideal for our community and our state. That is cause for today’s celebration, and the foundation for tomorrow’s promise.