Vision 2034 and the Year of Democracy and Civic Engagement

Dear friends, colleagues, students, staff and members of our faculty, 

For the past year, we have engaged in a strategic visioning process to determine what we will dare to achieve as a great public university. More than 25,000 students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors and local community members engaged in this highly collaborative process. Their input helped us reach further and dream bigger when imagining the possibilities for the next ten years and beyond.

Today, I’m proud to unveil University of Michigan’s Vision 2034, through which we will be the defining public university, boldly exemplified by our innovation and service to the common good. This vision – captured in an introductory videoreport, and website – calls upon the university to leverage its interdisciplinarity and excellence at scale to educate learners, advance society and make groundbreaking discoveries to impact the greatest challenges facing humanity.

Amid the myriad of possible opportunities, the university will focus our energy and investments on four distinct areas: life-changing education; human health and well-being; democracy, civic and global engagement; and climate action, sustainability and environmental justice. We will do this to ensure we are deploying our vast resources in ways that have the greatest impact.

In addition to the work that will drive us toward our vision, each of the coming four academic years will celebrate one of the impact areas. This fall, with the approach of the presidential election, we will embark upon “The Year of Democracy and Civic Engagement,” a series that will include speakers, lectures and performances to help us become exemplary citizens who are prepared to engage thoughtfully and work together to find solutions that lead to a more peaceful and equitable world.

In that spirit, in the coming weeks we will call together a planning committee for “The Year of Democracy and Civic Engagement.” The committee will lead the development of programming to foster deep listening and learning, as well as debate and dialogue – all of which are quintessential aspects of the U-M experience.

Listening, in particular, has been central to my work in the first year and a half of my presidency and, over the last two weeks, I have paid close attention to your feedback on the draft disruptive activity policy we shared March 27. Thank you for your responses – your letters, emails, and online feedback. I have heard your calls for partnership and deliberation, and I assure you that no changes to our long-standing policies have been made, and any future changes will be completed through a collaborative process. Since much of the feedback we’ve received has pointed to those long-standing policies, we’ve taken the interim step of making them easier to find via a central location.

Great achievement often begins with a vision. A moment when we set our sights on the horizon – beyond the daunting hills and obstacles – and wonder what we might achieve and become by working together. Vision 2034 is our collective vision, the sum of extensive collaboration and excitement across our three campuses and the medical center.

Together, we have the opportunity and the capacity to make change for the greater good. So let’s go forward. Let’s meet the challenges ahead. And when we look for solutions for today, tomorrow, and in all our futures, let’s look to Michigan.

Santa J. Ono