Throughout our 200-year history, the University of Michigan has excelled in research and teaching, leading the academy with our broad portfolio of scholarly work. To extend our leadership during our third century, I want to help us disseminate our work and share our expertise in a more conspicuous, and public, manner.
This will advance our mission as a public university by better connecting U-M’s broad intellectual power to areas of society where research and understanding can make a difference in lives and communities.
Two new awards will recognize the public engagement of U-M faculty.
The first is called the President’s Award for National and State Leadership. It will honor faculty who have provided sustained, dedicated and influential leadership and service in major national or state capacities.
The second engagement award is the President’s Award for Public Impact. It will honor faculty who have offered their academic research and expertise in tangible service of a major public sector challenge, at the scale of the community, state, nation or world.
Both of the public engagement awards are open to tenured, tenure track or research faculty on all of our campuses.
U-M faculty have been helping to drive conversations around public engagement on campus. In particular, I thank Professor Andrew Hoffman and his colleagues for the Michigan Meeting that focused on public engagement in 2015. College of Engineering Dean Alec Gallimore and Professor Rosina Bierbaum then co-chaired a faculty committee on National Service and Policy Engagement that led to a set of recommendations last May.
Members of the university’s leadership team and I are looking at all of these ideas and others, and in the coming months will roll out a series of programs to further stimulate public engagement.
More immediately, the committee recommended that U-M “offer college, school-level and University-level national leadership awards to recognize exemplars in this arena.”
As a result, I am proud that our two new Presidential Awards will honor faculty public engagement at the University of Michigan. We will announce the inaugural recipients at my Leadership Breakfast in the fall.
U-M has a very special legacy in advancing global education and engagement. We are known worldwide for our success as an international community of scholars.
We have admitted international students since the late 1840s, and we hired our first foreign-born faculty member in 1846. Our third president, James B. Angell, served as the U.S. minister to China and forged connections that exist to this day.
More recent milestones including Senator John F. Kennedy’s announcement of his idea for the Peace Corps on the steps of the Michigan Union in 1960, and levels of participation across the broad spectrum of international education and service that are consistently strong, including the Peace Corps, Fulbrights, students studying abroad and international scholars coming here.
The international exchanges we foster make the world a safer place.
When students and faculty come here from other countries, and when our students and faculty go elsewhere around the world, everyone involved benefits. They experience different cultures and discover the common aspirations of all humankind. The better we know and understand people from other parts of the globe, the less likely our international disagreements are to spin into dangerous conflict.
Last fall during International Education Week, I announced the creation of the President’s Award for Distinguished Service in International Education to recognize and celebrate the extraordinary efforts of our faculty and staff to keep U-M on the leading edge of international education.
For more than two decades, Louise has used her extensive knowledge of U-M, and her strong understanding of regulatory policy to enhance our campus and the lives of our students.
She has implemented programs that make us more welcoming, help students succeed, and ensure that we are in compliance with ever-changing federal laws. She is regarded as a national expert on immigration policy as it relates to higher education.
It is also clear that Louise cares very deeply for students. Students and prospective students around the world know her by name.
She offered support and expertise during difficult times for international education, including the aftermath of 9/11 and during the confusion that arose following the most recent changes in federal policy.
For international scholars to come to America and U-M to study, a lot has to go right.
These include federal policies around immigration, insurance, cultural barriers, and the need to help students from faraway lands navigate a big, decentralized place like U-M.
As Louise’s nominator, Judith Pennywell said, “The things that work well,
that we sometimes take for granted, are also a place where Louise has held the greatest influence.”
I want to thank everyone at U-M who is helping us to carry forward our legacy of peace and understanding by further enhancing our global community of scholars.