Arts Initiative

The University of Michigan Arts Initiative seeks to energize, support, and amplify the creative ecosystem on campus to:

  • Transform the student experience
  • Work better together to spark ideas + innovate
  • Foster a more vibrant, joyful, friendly + just world
  • Build capacity and sustainability for the arts at the University of Michigan

They do this by developing programs with students, faculty, staff, and artists; convening and facilitating collaborations; and through impactful grantmaking that supports and strengthens the arts ecosystem.

With funding from the Office of the President, the University of Michigan Arts Initiative was launched in October 2019. In January 2023, the Arts Initiative entered a five-year growth phase.

The University of Michigan Arts Initiative seeks to illuminate and expand human connections, inspire collaborative creativity, and build a more just and equitable world through the arts.

The University of Michigan Arts Initiative will make the arts central to the University’s identity and mission. To achieve this, we will expand access to the arts on campus and beyond, activate them in student learning, and integrate the arts into research across disciplines. We will strengthen the arts ecosystem of southeast Michigan while also shaping national and global understandings of how the arts can lead social change.

The four main goals of the initiative are:

  • Strengthening the student experience and learning by expanding and integrating the arts in teaching and learning
  • Activating interdisciplinary discovery and arts research
  • Broadening and deepen partnerships with communities and the public
  • Building capacity and sustainability for the arts

Executive Committee

The Arts Initiative Executive Committee consists of arts leaders from all key U-M arts units.

Anne Curzan, Dean, College of Literature, Science, and the Arts

Maryrose Flanigan, Executive Director, Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities

David Gier, Dean, School of Music, Theatre & Dance

Carlos Jackson, Dean of Stamps School of Art & Design

Jonathan Massey, Dean of the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning

Peggy McCracken, Director, LSA Institute for the Humanities

Christina Olsen, Director of the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA)

Matthew VanBesien, President of the University Musical Society (UMS)

Advisory Committee

The Arts Initiative Advisory Committee consists of a broader set of collaborators from arts units, non arts units, development, communications, student life, finance, DEI, and research.


  • Tom Baird, Vice President for Development
  • David Brown, Associate Vice President and Associate Dean for Health Equity and Inclusion; Professor of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery
  • Kate Cagney, Director, Institute for Social Research
  • Tess Eastment, Executive Director of Development, University Initiatives
  • Tom Finholt, Vice Provost for Academic and Budgetary Affairs, Office of the Provost
  • Susan Gott, Associate Director for Planning and Communication, Arch, Eng, & Const
  • John Granzow, Director, Arts Engine / Associate Professor of Music (Performing Arts Technology), SMTD
  • Anthony Kolenic, Director, Matthei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum
  • Laura Lessnau, Assistant Vice President for News, OVPC
  • Timothy Lynch, Vice President and General Counsel/Legal Top Executive-General Counsel, Office of the President
  • Elizabeth Moje, Dean, School of Education
  • Daniel Rivkin, Senior Public Affairs Manager, Ford School of Public Policy
  • Will Sherry, Director of Student Initiatives for Student Life
  • Geoff Thün, Associate Vice President for Research, UMOR/ Taubman College
  • Katrina Wade-Golden, Deputy Chief Diversity Officer, Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

LSA Arts Consortium Group

  • Center for World Performance Studies, Director (Michael Gould)
  • Comparative Literature, Chair (Chris Hill)
  • Digital Studies chair (Ellie Abrons)
  • FTVM, Chair (Colin Gunckel)
  • Lloyd Scholars for Writing and the Arts (LSWA) (Scott Beal)
  • Museum Studies, Director (Deirdre Hennebury)
  • PCAS, Director (Mark Guzdial)
  • Residential College, Director (Carl Abrego)
  • Zell Writers Program, Director (Linda Gregerson)

For questions please contact Christopher Audain, Managing Director at