February 2023 video message

Hello colleagues and friends across the U-M community!

During these midwinter days, I’ve been reflecting on our future as a university.

Our strategic visioning process is well underway. I hope you saw my recent update on our progress, and hope even more that you will engage. This is to be our vision, of who we are, what we want to stand for, and what we aspire to achieve. That vision, its corresponding campus plan, will be critical for creating our future.

But it all comes back to our teachers.

No matter our background, each of us is here because we had a teacher, a coach, a mentor – someone in our lives who saw something special inside.

That teacher saw something … and then they brought it out in us, sometimes with quiet encouragement, other times with correction and redirection, and sometimes even with ferocious intensity.

Our teachers are our future makers.

That’s what makes our School of Education so important.

The University of Michigan was the first American university to establish a chair exclusively devoted to education. The school was formally established forty-two years later, and just last year celebrated its centennial.

Over the past 101 years, our graduates of the SOE have taught, encouraged and mentored countless students – each course, each class, each year, again and again bringing out the leaders and best.

Today, the school is ranked first in the world in education and educational research. It has six specialty programs ranked in the U.S. News top ten. And perhaps most importantly, it has more than 40,000 active alumni in over 80 countries.

Together, they’re creating our future.

So for our Portrait of a Wolverine, it’s fitting that we salute a few teachers.

Alycia [Pronounce?] Meriweather, went from our School of Education to Deputy Superintendent of the Detroit Public Schools Community District.

Luke Wilcox, another alumnus, became a mathematics teacher at Kentwood Public Schools, and in 2017 was named Michigan’s Teacher of the Year.

Christina Morton earned her doctorate at the SOE, and today she is Associate Director of our Program on Intergroup Relations.

Henry Meares, an instructor at the SOE as well as its Assistant Dean for K–12 Recruitment and Special Projects, earned the U-M Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Lifetime Achievement Award in 2022.

And today, Nando Felten, an SOE master’s student is working on the school’s new undergraduate program in Learning, Equity and Problem Solving.

Each day, these outstanding individuals, and so many others, are empowering lives and unleashing potential … as a teacher did for each of us.

Let me leave you with a final thought.

Our state and our nation are facing an acute shortage of teachers. And education is a fantastic way to touch lives. So I encourage you to check out our School of Education at soe.umich.edu.

But regardless of the degree you’re pursuing – or the degrees you’ve earned – each of us can bring out the exceptional in those around us – all it takes is an attentive moment, a kindness, an uplifting word.

So together, let’s be teachers, and let’s create our future as the leaders and best.

Thanks again for joining me, and I’ll see you next month.