(As prepared for delivery)
Good morning, colleagues, students, and friends.
It’s a pleasure to welcome you to the Ross School of Business for this year’s leadership breakfast.
I also thank everyone in our community watching on the live stream.
Earlier this year, our Board of Regents approved a project for an addition to our Detroit Observatory.
The observatory is the second-oldest building on our campus, but it has a historical significance that is second-to-none.
Opened by President Tappan in 1854, it was the first dedicated research lab on our campus – and the first physical representation of U-M’s amazing legacy of discovery. Beyond allowing our astronomers to chart the stars and discover 21 asteroids and two new comets, it allowed for the highly accurate measurement of time.
By the way, that’s real time, not Michigan time.
We’re still working out the schematics, but the vision for the project unites much of what makes Michigan great.
There will be space for classes in astronomy and history, as well as programming that is oriented to the public. It will showcase our achievements in discovery and impact through interpretive displays, while also serving as learning space for the next generations of scientists and scholars.
Public higher education has changed a great deal since that first time we looked upward through the observatory’s telescope a century and a half ago. But our curiosity, our quest for understanding, our passion for service, and our commitment to world-class education remain.
We still reach for the stars, and we now know there are billions more to grasp.
My remarks today will focus on just a few of the ways we are honoring our public mission across our three great campuses, Michigan Medicine, and in the communities we serve. But before I continue, I want to acknowledge a few of our more terrestrial stars.
Just this week, U-M Professor Emeritus Gérard Mourou was one of three winners of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics. He was a member of our faculty in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science for 16 years before his retirement in 2004.
The Nobel was awarded for “groundbreaking inventions in the field of laser physics.”
Dr. Mourou shared half of the prize with the University of Waterloo’s Dr. Donna Strickland, who is also his former graduate student at the University of Rochester. The prize honors a technique they invented called chirped pulse amplification, which was further developed right here at U-M.
The Nobel committee notes that the technique “paved the way towards the shortest and most intense laser pulses ever created by” humankind and opening up new medical treatments such as Lasik surgery.
Since we last gathered, many of our current faculty have been honored at the highest levels.
Several U-M faculty members were elected to national academies, and we count four new Thurnau professors. Additionally, we had four Sloan Research Fellows, one Guggenheim Fellow, one Carnegie Fellow and two MacArthur Fellows. You can see the full list up on the screen, and some of these colleagues are here today.
This fall, we are also pleased to welcome new deans or interim deans in four of our schools and colleges, as well as two new executive officers. Domenico Grasso is the new chancellor of the University of Michigan – Dearborn, and Ravi Pendse is our new Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer.
I have been very busy recruiting new talent, as well – my wife Monica and I were delighted to welcome the arrival of our first grandchild. This is Adelaide. She lives out of state, so Monica and I are eager to get her here for her first campus tour. Thank you for allowing me that indulgence.
Access and Affordability
This is the final leadership breakfast of my first term here at Michigan, so I want to take a moment to reflect on a much more serious aspect of student recruitment.
Two very important initiatives are addressing socioeconomic diversity on our campus.
This fall, the first graduates of our Wolverine Pathways program are now studying on our Ann Arbor and Dearborn campuses.
Wolverine Pathways is an innovative pipeline program for middle and high school students in Detroit, Southfield, and Ypsilanti. Students attend after-school, weekend and summer academic enrichment sessions and receive mentorship and guidance as they prepare for their futures.
Scholars who successfully complete the program, apply to U-M, and are admitted receive a four-year full tuition scholarship plus additional need-based aid.
The results are in, and like the students themselves, they are promising: Of the 83 Wolverine Pathways students who applied to U-M, 45 are currently enrolled on the Ann Arbor campus, and 15 are at UM-Dearborn. Eighty of them in total are attending a 4-year college or university this fall. That’s 91 percent!
We are also in our second semester of providing free tuition to eligible Michigan students under our Go Blue Guarantee. Final numbers will be available later this month, but we believe that 10 percent of our Michigan resident undergraduates have their tuition paid under the Go Blue Guarantee.
Our number of undergraduates receiving Pell grants has also increased, to 17.9 percent, with freshmen jumping from 15.8 to 17.6 percent. And one in seven U-M undergraduates is a first-generation college student.
We still have a long way to go before our student body reflects the wonderful diversity of the society we serve, but we are making progress.
The achievements of Wolverine Pathways and the Go Blue Guarantee speak to the commitment we have established for our third century.
We are sending a message to the people of our state and beyond that we seek to welcome students from all communities and backgrounds who have the talent and desire to be Michigan Wolverines.
I was reminded of the importance of this work earlier this year when I visited students at Ypsilanti Community High School with Dr. Kedra Ishop, our vice provost for enrollment management.
We were less than twenty minutes away from this campus, but many of the students and parents there felt that U-M was out of their reach, too distant for their aspirations. I sometimes feel similar sentiments when I travel around the country, or hear from people on my own Twitter account.
Too many members of the public do not appreciate the value to them, personally, of the University of Michigan.
But together, we are working to change that.
Extending the Reach of Michigan Excellence
I am so proud that our faculty, staff, students and supporters are working to extend the reach and impact of our excellence – throughout Michigan and beyond.
We’re extending our value with technology.
The Office of Academic Innovation is providing access to more than 130 learning experiences through Michigan Online, including credit-eligible programs and Teach-Outs. Literally millions of learners from all around the world have taken these courses.
We’re extending our value with pedagogy.
UM-Flint just added a Physician Assistant Department in its College of Health Sciences, as the campus prepares to launch the first physician assistant program at our university. As Chancellor Borrego has said, the program reflects the campus’s longstanding history |of responsiveness to the region’s workforce and health needs.
We’re extending our value with research.
Our Biosciences Initiative is preparing to award its first grants, totaling nearly $50 million, in all three of its funding categories later this month. The initiative has already catalyzed cross-disciplinary collaborations, and the proposals were bold and inspiring.
We’re extending our value through engagement.
Michigan faculty are responding to the pressing issues of our time by providing expert legislative testimony; national, state and local service; and by sharing their work in the media.
We’re extending our value with patient care.
Michigan Medicine has opened new care facilities in Brighton and West Ann Arbor, and formed new partnerships in key regions across our state, helping us care last year for more than 2.3 million patients.
But most of all, we’re extending our value through a collective commitment to the highest aspirations of our mission.
I was very impressed by our Ford School and the We Listen student group at an event I attended Sunday. They brought together William Kristol, founder and editor of the Weekly Standard, and Neera Tanden, president and CEO of the Center for American Progress, for a discussion of important issues. The event kicked off the Ford School’s Conversations Across Difference initiative, which is an important priority supported financially by the Provost’s Office.
The Power of the Michigan Family
All across our university, the power of the Michigan Family is strong.
We are finishing our Victors for Michigan campaign at full throttle.
In fact, it will be a record-breaking finish.
I am thrilled to announce here today that the University of Michigan is now the first public university ever to raise $5 billion in a fundraising campaign.
It’s the most successful campaign in our history and in the history of public higher education.
More than 382,000 donors contributed in support of our mission. And their generosity included $1.1 billion dedicated to the campaign’s top priority: Student support.
This morning’s fantastic news reflects the wonderful commitment of all of you to our mission of research, education and service.
I also want to express my appreciation to President Emerita Mary Sue Coleman, who set a bold goal when she successfully launched the campaign publicly in 2013. And to our Board of Regents, whose enthusiastic support and leadership helped us reach this historic achievement.
Our world needs Victors, and the Michigan Family has responded.
Thank you, donors, and thank you everyone who helped our university accomplish this historic achievement.
Earlier this year, a transformational commitment from Rich and Susan Rogel gave a major boost to our efforts. Their $150 million gift is the largest in the history of Michigan Medicine.
It will enable our Rogel Cancer Center with faculty members all across the campus to draw on its collaborative research culture to produce lifesaving innovations in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. The gift also will support the work of promising young scientists, help us attract outstanding cancer researchers from around the world, and provide scholarships for medical students and other predoctoral trainees.
One example of the Rogel Cancer Center’s excellence relates to our Precision Health initiative.
Arul Chinnaiyan of our Medical School and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute has received an Outstanding Investigator Award from the National Cancer Institute to fund research in precision oncology.
This seven-year $6.5 million R35 grant will fund research to create new bioinformatics resources and identify new cancer biomarkers to improve diagnosis and develop new targeted therapies. R35 awards were developed by the National Cancer Institute to provide long-term support to projects of unusual potential and ambition.
Rogel Cancer Center faculty come from an impressive 53 departments across 9 schools and colleges, drawing on the full breadth of our academic strength as a true center of excellence for U-M.
I’m sure that you have been hearing about the great work our faculty, students and staff have been doing in Detroit, as well.
The University of Michigan has education, research, healthcare and service partnerships in the city — some of which stretch back decades. And we are establishing new collaborations as our faculty and students pursue their academic interests and strengthen relationships with community partners and city government.
The Poverty Solutions Detroit Partnership on Economic Mobility that we previewed at last year’s Leadership Breakfast is off to a fast start. Projects are pairing dozens of U-M experts with city departments to address challenges around health, workforce development, housing and revitalization, and public safety.
Just last month, we made an unprecedented commitment that will enhance the quality of teachers we produce and the communities they will serve. Led by our School of Education, we were proud to help launch an innovative new school in Detroit on the former campus of Marygrove College. The partnership with the Detroit Public Schools Community District, the Kresge Foundation, and others, is creating a Teaching School that is modeled after the concept of a Teaching Hospital.
Students from our School of Education will hone their skills while learning the theories and pedagogical techniques that are essential to the effective practice of teaching, working alongside Detroit public school teachers and being mentored by U-M faculty. Eventually this effort will involve students in social work and nursing along with their faculty mentors.
One challenge I have been thinking about over the last few years is how can we further enhance the impact of our work in Detroit. I’m trying to find ways for all the various research and teaching programs that touch Detroit to better synergize with one another, to know about each other, and to take advantage of one another’s expertise and contacts.
I believe that we have the potential to identify more engagement and partnership opportunities, while committing to the transparency and mutual benefit that guide our efforts in the city.
One of the recommendations made by our Detroit task force was to centralize some aspects of our activities. The goal here is not to dictate lines of inquiry or programs, but to help all of us reach our full potential and have the most impact, together, as researchers, teachers, students, staff and community members.
The Provost’s Office is creating a Detroit advisory committee with representation from all three U-M campuses that will be launched this fall. The taskforce recommended the formation of a standing committee to increase coordination of our activities across all three campuses, to build greater transparency and collective impact, and to recommend steps to further these goals.
And to reflect this work, we’ve combined three of the Detroit websites we previously had into one: Detroit.umich.edu.
We’re also working to re-envision our physical presence in Detroit. Our Detroit Center has been in place since 2005, and we have purchased the remaining third of the Rackham Building near the DIA. Our goal is to use our physical space in the best service of our mission, while holding fast to the fundamental principles that have made our Detroit partnerships thrive.
Those are recognition of the expertise and knowledge that resides with our community partners; respect for each other and our resources; and equitable engagement focused on reciprocal relationships, transparency, and accountability.
Sexual Misconduct Prevention and Education
Last month, we announced new measures we are implementing to better prevent sexual misconduct and provide educational and support resources for our community. The new measures for faculty and staff align with our goals of improving awareness, training, reporting and accountability regarding all forms of sexual misconduct throughout our university.
Based on recommendations from a university-wide working group, we have created a centralized website devoted to sexual misconduct reporting, prevention and education. The site is easily accessed from major university pages, including my own.
The working group also recommended that U-M invest in a comprehensive sexual misconduct training and education approach for all faculty and staff. Currently, participation in training is voluntary, but it will now be required for all. The first part of the new education and training program is in development and will be released later this fall.
The working group that made these recommendations included faculty and staff experts on sexual misconduct from our three campuses and Michigan Medicine. It was chaired by Daniel Little, former chancellor of UM-Dearborn, and Laurita Thomas, associate vice president for human resources. I’d like to thank them and the entire working group for their efforts.
Additionally, I’m pleased to announce U-M will again participate in the Association of American University’s national Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct. The survey will be sent to all undergraduate, graduate and professional students on our Ann Arbor campus in February, and I urge everyone to participate.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
Sexual misconduct has no place at the University of Michigan, and retaliation against those who report misconduct won’t be tolerated. This is a belief shared by our regents, executive officers, and leaders across our community.
Our work to create a safe, inclusive and respectful culture for all is an important component of our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiative.
The connection of our work on sexual misconduct to DEI allows us to tap into the existing networks of representatives across campus and the reporting that already takes place as a way to track and understand our progress over time.
I am pleased to report that we are on schedule to complete construction of our new Trotter Multicultural Center in February, with an opening scheduled for April.
Early programming initiatives planned for the new Trotter include an Interfaith Program to create opportunities and space for students examining life’s deepest questions and seeking transformative impact. We are also planning a Trotter Distinguished Leaders Series to increase healthy discourse and learning throughout U-M.
I look forward to seeing everyone at the DEI Summit week that begins Monday, where we will announce another great year of progress in the implementation of our campuswide strategic plan.
Neutral Carbon Trajectory
As I’ve stated on a number of occasions, human influenced global climate change is the defining scientific and social problem of our age, and a significant component of this growing crisis is due to the burning of fossil fuels to generate energy.
My predecessor, President Mary Sue Coleman, committed the university to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent over a 2006 baseline by 2025. This was an ambitious goal made more so by the energy requirements of a campus that has grown by about 20 percent since then.
I am pleased to announce that we are on a trajectory to meet that goal early and even exceed it in the years ahead.
A new gas co-generation turbine we are installing in our power plant, along with broad based conservation efforts, will get us halfway there, and we are close to finalizing an agreement to purchase renewable energy that will get us to our 25 percent goal.
Now it’s time to consider what’s next.
I am committed during my presidency to putting U-M on a trajectory towards carbon neutrality, and levels of greenhouse gas release that are environmentally sustainable.
But I know there is even more ambition within our community.
Throughout our history, we have always strived to impact society in profound ways. I’d like us to figure out how to do this in partnership with Ann Arbor, and other regional stakeholders, and in a fashion that can be replicated by others all around our state and nation.
This is because even if we achieve a zero net carbon footprint for our campus alone, it won’t make a measurable difference for global climate change. But if we do it in a way that takes advantage of our power to discover and our ability to convene around a major challenge, we can better achieve our broader ambitions.
I’d like us to do this in a way where our entire community shares in this responsibility and shares accountability for our goal. In a way in which our outstanding faculty and students apply their creativity to invent new technologies and develop new public policies. And in a way that taps into the breadth of our academic excellence, and involves outstanding partners at other universities, in the private sector, in government and in the public more generally.
I will announce in the coming months the appointment of a presidential commission that will be tasked with developing a plan. I hope to include U-M experts from our School for Environment and Sustainability; our Graham, Erb and Energy Institutes; and many more.
The plan will include specific targets and a timeline for U-M itself to achieve carbon neutrality in a financially responsible fashion, in the context of a recommended set of strategies that can be shared by others in Ann Arbor and around the state to achieve the same goal.
The commission will consider carefully how to balance carbon neutrality in the context of overall environmental sustainability, will suggest concrete avenues to achieve our goals, and will recommend ways in which all members of our community can share responsibility for our success.
These are complex issues, but I have every confidence that the University of Michigan is the place where we will make this happen. We all agree that global climate change is a monumental challenge, and we’ll need the passion, intellect and commitment of our entire community and its many partners to achieve our goals.
Before I open it up for questions, I want to make a few final announcements.
In recognition of U-M’s historic commitment to public art, we are working to re-invigorate our collection, while also seeking to strengthen its alignment with our teaching and research.
This effort is being led by Christina Olsen, the director of the University of Michigan Museum of Art. We will be planning opportunities for community feedback, and I invite you to get involved.
I am exceedingly grateful for the opportunity to lead this amazing community.
This summer, I passed the four-year mark here at U-M, and I could not imagine a better place to embark on the “graduate” phase of my presidency. Thanks to the Board of Regents, I will be here another five years after my first term ends in July.
One of the promises I made during my inauguration was that we would celebrate our excellence and impact.
In that light, up on the screen behind me are the upcoming nomination deadlines for the new presidential awards that members of our community suggested we create.
It’s such a joy to interact with our students, faculty, staff and supporters, to hear your ideas and see the passion that you bring to your work and studies.
I tell people all over the world that I have the best job in all of higher education.
At Michigan, the possibilities are endless: For research. For education. And for societal impact.
I began today mentioning the upcoming addition to our Detroit Observatory — and its significance as a symbol of our proud history and our enduring commitment to discovery.
These ideas were much better expressed by Julie Ellison, a professor in LS&A and our Stamps School of Art and Design.
She wrote a poem titled, “The Detroit Observatory, 1999,” which celebrated its previous restoration. The end of the poem is a wonderful expression of our great university:
“This building hosted once duets of stars and citizens
and shall again. It is something I believe in:
the public study of the public sky.
The museum is done. I practice saying,
Thank you for all you do for the University of Michigan.