State of the University 2023

Remarks as prepared for delivery

It’s such an honor to be here with all of you this afternoon – regents, our executive officers, and deans, our colleagues from Michigan Medicine, and our staff, student and faculty leads.

You exemplify our credo of the leaders and best.

You are the reason we are a world-leading public research university. 

It’s been just over a year since I began my presidency of this august institution, and it remains the honor of a lifetime to serve with all of you as president of the University of Michigan.

We have achieved much together, and while we have had our challenges, we are coming through.

So we will continue to walk together with respect and humility; and work together with the same mission and purpose, the commitment to excellence, achievement and integrity.

This is who we are.

This is who we will always aspire to be.

So I say with a pride that should be shared by all of us, the State of our University is strong today.

Let’s review a few highlights from our year together.


One of the first commitments we made was to ensure that excellence and integrity remain the bedrock of our university. We’re doing so, and next January, Michelle Casey will begin service as our inaugural Ethics, Integrity and Compliance lead. She joins us from the state of Illinois.

This year we received a record appropriation from the State of Michigan, which will enable us to better carry out our public mission of developing the next generation of leaders and citizens.

We launched a new Arts Initiative.

We celebrated a new building for our College of Pharmacy. 

And through our merger with Sparrow, our excellence in patient care has expanded its reach.

At the same time, the D. Dan and Betty Kahn Health Care Pavilion is continuing to rise. That world-class hospital – which will be complete in 2025 – was made possible thanks to an amazing $50M gift from the D. Dan and Betty Kahn Foundation, an expression of their profound dedication to U-M and the public good.

This year, our Marsal Family School of Education was named in  recognition of a $50 million commitment – the largest in the School of Education’s history – by the family of Kathleen and Bryan Marsal. Through their gift, we will be changing the lives of future generations. 

Before 2023 is complete, we will break ground on the U-M Center for Innovation in Detroit, which was enabled by a $100M gift from the Stephen Ross Foundation and $100M more from the State of Michigan.

We recently hired Scott Shireman as UMCI’s inaugural director. He has the charge of making it into a world-class research, education and entrepreneurship center, one that will empower the next generation of Detroiters to dream bigger dreams … and make their dreams into realities.

I believe we should not only be the University of Michigan, we should be the University for Michigan. 

We joined with a new public-private partnership with local and international companies to establish a global semiconductor center of excellence in Michigan. We are also a part of the new Midwest Hydrogen Hub, which is focused on building a clean hydrogen economy.

We are also engaged with Governor Whitmer’s Growing Michigan Together Council – which will present its final report in early December – and are eager to work on talent attraction and the retention of both domestic and international students.

As we’ve done so, we’ve seen the University Research Corridor become more focused, and more ready to align with the Business Leaders for Michigan, which has the potential to catalyze growth across our state.

In fact, a recent report developed by Richard Florida and the Creative Class Group, is bullish about Michigan becoming a great technology hub for startups and growth, if we can successfully navigate our ongoing technological transformation.


In Ann Arbor, our enrollment grew again this fall, making the University of Michigan the largest and most sought-after public research institution in the state.

Our total enrollment reached more than 52,000 students, including nearly 9,000 first year and transfer students – a record number – a 3% increase in undergraduate students to almost 34,000 total, and a 5% increase in Ph.D. students.

Interest in our university is continuing to grow, and we received a record number of nearly 94,000 applications from first year and transfer students.

Our incoming class consists of more first-generation students and students from low-income backgrounds, as well as a greater number of students of color, who comprise 44 percent of this year’s incoming class. That includes a 25% increase in Black and African American students, as well as a 29% increase in Hispanic or Latino/a students.

More than half of our incoming students hail from the State of Michigan, with nearly every county represented in the student population. We also have students from all 50 states and the District of Columbia joining us, in addition to students from 65 countries.

Those students are joining a university that is even better prepared, and even more committed, to ensuring the fullest expression of their gifts, and the best possible environment for their education.


Last month we broke ground on the Central Campus Residential Project at South Fifth, which will add 2,300 beds by the summer of 2026. The project – which to the best of our knowledge is the largest of its kind in development in the country – will meet the needs of our growing student body and be transformative for both our central campus and the undergraduate experience.

We have also begun construction of the Edward and Rosalie Ginsberg Center, which will be a place of community and civic engagement, of partnerships and relationships. The Center, a model of sustainable design, was made possible by an incredible $10.5M gift from the Ginsberg family, and is expected to be in use by the fall of 2025.

To further aid our students in finding connection and community, we have recently renovated four multicultural lounges. Our Michigan Housing Diversity and Inclusion office is also in the process of renovating all 16 of its multicultural lounges, further strengthening our ties and advancing DEI.

We are also making great progress on the Hadley Family Recreation and Well-Being Center, which will replace the older and much beloved CCRB (Central Campus Recreation Building). The Hadley Center – which we can see being constructed every day – will enable greater access and opportunity for students, faculty and staff to connect, to strengthen their wellness and to sustain their wellbeing.


As we press ahead from the pandemic years, we remain steadfastly dedicated to the health and wellness of our campus and community.

The lessons we have learned since 2020 have inspired us to establish a lasting public health infrastructure to monitor COVID-19 and a range of other diseases, to ensure our community’s access to life-saving vaccinations, and to respond to emerging public health concerns.

We also understand the great need to address mental health and wellbeing. I am deeply proud of Michigan’s efforts to strengthen our mental health ecosystem for the members of our university through our innovative continuum of care model.

From free same-day virtual counseling sessions for our students, to a forthcoming course that empowers faculty to respond to students’ mental health needs, we are creating a cohesive, comprehensive network of resources.

Ever the innovators and leaders, we continue to tackle more complex care needs. That includes our establishment of UHS’s addiction medicine clinic, and a pilot of the groundbreaking use of a new technology to help student survivors of sexual assault.

The work of our Well-being Collective is also advancing. We must do more than simply bolster our resources, we must also examine our systems and policies to ensure that every member of our students, staff and faculty can learn and grow and thrive.


That’s why the wellness and wellbeing of each member of our community is one of my highest priorities as president of this university.

We also have several other strategic priorities, which it’s essential we execute on each day. They are: 

  • Serving our communities: Ensuring the highest quality of services to our students, patients and other communities.
  • Vision 2034
  • Campus Plan 2050
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
  • The Culture Journey
  • Sustainability and climate action
  • Energizing our research and
  • Affordability and efficiency: Working to continuously leverage and scale the impact of our resources to control costs and improve services.

It is essential for us to recognize that each of us has a role – and even more – a responsibility, in achieving these goals for the growth and betterment of our university.


As we continue to serve, we must also continue to lead.

We are in the midst of the Strategic Visioning Process – to sharpen our impact and to determine who we are, what we will stand for, and what we will dare to achieve as a great public university.

Vision 2034 – which will be transformational – is not intended to be a detailed and prescriptive plan, but rather a North Star which will point our way forward, and under which we will align our assets and resources as a university for the next 10 years.

It’s a great opportunity. It’s about what we can do, and what we aspire to do, together. We’ve never done this before as a campus and community.

So over this past year, we’ve engaged with thousands of faculty, students, staff, alumni and others who have shared their ideas on our future.

I’d like to thank all of you – across campus and beyond – who have contributed to our vision. It’s been so exciting to see your ideas coalesce and suggest new directions and new horizons for our university, and we’re looking forward to sharing our vision with you next spring.


In concert, we have embarked on an inclusive planning process to transform Vision 2034 into a physical reality for our Ann Arbor campus – our Campus Plan 2050.

As with our Vision, the active engagement of the U-M students, staff and faculty has been essential to the process, including a series of open houses this fall.

While Vision 2034 seeks to define what we will dare to achieve over the ensuing decade, Campus Plan 2050 will explore how the Ann Arbor campus’ physical spaces and places should be designed to support our mission and vision.

Campus Plan 2050 will include five- and ten-year development planning horizons, as well as a long-term, 25-year plan that will serve as a catalyst to drive ongoing initiatives and establish clear priorities for capital investments.

Most of the possibilities that have come out of our engagements with all of you fall into five overarching themes including connectivity, sustainability, health and wellbeing, campus life, and renewal and strategic investment in new campus spaces.

Thanks to all of you, these interconnected initiatives – Vision 2034 and Campus Plan 2050 – are shaping our shared future. We’ve made incredible progress since we announced them in January, and I’m looking forward to sharing more with you about them in the new year.


As we vision together and plan together, we must also ensure that together, we sustain our place of primacy in research and innovation.

Over the past year, we have implemented six distinct and complementary efforts to strengthen and amplify our research, scholarship and creative practice across our three campuses, including:

  • Supporting more than a dozen new and early-stage multidisciplinary faculty teams whose ambitious, transdisciplinary projects have substantial potential for significant large-scale funding;
  • Boosting faculty visibility for external honorifics by increasing coordination across units, ensuring equitable nomination processes, and expanding the ability to track where and how U-M researchers are being recognized; and
  • Identifying, engaging with and gaining support from foundations and other nonprofit funders so that faculty can explore high-risk science and scholarship, as well as early-stage, proof-of-concept projects.

These efforts – your scholarship and excellence – are demonstrating results.

This past fiscal year, we reported a record $1.86B in research volume – an 8.1% increase from last year which led to critical advancements in areas ranging from microelectronics to global infectious disease to social justice to artificial intelligence.

We also had an incredible economic impact, including 580 invention disclosures and 25 new startups launched.

To further strengthen our leadership in research, innovation and impact over the days and decades to come, Rebecca Cunningham and I engaged in an external research review. Together, we convened a series of listening sessions and focus groups with U-M experts and external partners to assess the current state of our research and creative practice enterprise, and to offer strategic guidance on ways we can more effectively advance our mission.

Based on their insights, we plan to implement a series of tactics and strategies to advance our research excellence and accelerate our groundbreaking discoveries, even as we continue to serve as a wellspring of education and training for future research leaders.


Yet if we have achievement without character, or results without integrity, we have gained nothing. That is why values must be at the heart of everything we do together as a university.

Together, we have embarked on a culture journey, an effort to create a set of unifying, shared values, which will set a lasting high standard for our campus behaviors, systems and practices that support our cultural aspirations.

Those core values are:

  • Integrity
  • Respect
  • Inclusion
  • Equity
  • Diversity and
  • Innovation

Next January, we expect to launch a university-wide campaign to socialize those values, and share their example behaviors with all the members of our community.

It’s vital that each of us engage with those values, that they infuse all we do, and that we encourage our colleagues and teams to live out those values too. Leadership demands no less. So let us always be a university of values. And let our values always be who we are as a university.

DEI 2.0

Three of those core values are Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and I’m excited about the progress we’re making in this area.

This year’s DEI Summit was an exceptional success, a discourse that engaged nearly 4,000 members of our community. At the Summit, we launched our DEI 2.0 initiative, whose curriculum will move beyond awareness and into the realm of skill building, using targeted programming to equip our community with the strategies and techniques needed to disrupt bias, prevent workplace issues and retaliation and build psychological safety in the workplace.

We also launched M-PACT, the Michigan Program for Advancing Cultural Transformation in the Biomedical and Health Sciences through a five-year, $15.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health and $63.7 million in university funding. Through M-PACT, we’ll recruit 30 new tenure-track assistant professors across 11 schools, colleges and units, thereby enhancing diversity, equity and inclusion in the biomedical and health sciences.

As we do so, we will continue our work on the Inclusive History Project, which is being led by Elizabeth Cole and Earl Lewis. The IHP is an ambitious effort to honestly and critically re-examine our university’s past as it relates to diversity, equity and inclusion.

Last summer, it released a five-year plan to engage the university and our neighboring communities to develop a new, expanded history of U-M. And this fall the IHP appointed Directors of Research on each of our three campuses.

They are launching a range of projects, including an exploration of the origins of UM-Dearborn; a deeper examination of the 1817 land transfer by the Ojibwe, Odawa and Bodewadminations that were key to the university’s founding; and the long history of Hill Auditorium.

I am excited to see this project taking shape, and I’m looking forward to learning more about our shared past as its work progresses.

Perhaps most importantly, we must recognize that anti-discrimination is foundational to all of our efforts in DEI, and that DEI is fundamental to everything we do in anti-discrimination.

At such a divisive, challenging time, we must defend academic freedom, we must reaffirm our values as a pluralistic public university, and we must make it clear that racism, antisemitism, and anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bigotry have no place on our campus or in our community.

They demean our values, and they debase our university.

As a dear colleague letter from our faculty and staff in response to the violence in the Middle East declared – and I wholeheartedly agree – “We affirm … that every human life has value and counts.”

So we will stand together, supporting federal law, sustaining our values as a university, and strengthening the foundations of our pluralistic society.


As we do so, we must also be leaders in addressing the climate emergency.

Universities are today’s testing grounds for tomorrow’s climate solutions. And at U-M, we are continuing to make progress toward procuring 100% of our purchased electricity from renewable sources by 2025, and toward eliminating 100% of campus greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.

To make that happen, we’re constructing innovative geo-exchange heating and cooling systems, planning onsite solar installations, deploying electric buses, leading multidisciplinary research, advancing climate education, building upon the success of student sustainability groups, making environmentally conscious investments, and fostering a shared culture of sustainability.

In addition, we recently welcomed Shana Weber to U-M from Princeton as our new associate vice president for campus sustainability, and we’re embarking on a search for an inaugural vice provost for sustainability and climate action.

Our comprehensive, “Planet Blue” approach covers all of our campuses, as well as Michigan Medicine, and Athletics. As we move forward, we’re committed to leading, to learning, and to charting scalable, transferrable and equitable strategies for others to follow.


We’re also committed to lead in the burgeoning, uncertain, exciting, field of artificial intelligence.

In August, under the leadership of Dr. Ravi Pendse, ITS launched a suite of custom GenAI services to our community that focus on U-M’s core values of equity, accessibility, and privacy. We are the first higher ed institution in the world to deploy these kinds of AI services at scale for our students, staff and faculty.

These services have an average of nearly 14,000 daily users, a number that grows every month. Members of our faculty have developed 24/7 AI tutors for their classes, and our tools are also being used to drive student and faculty led-experiments exploring the responsible, legal and ethical use of AI.


Over the weekend, we clinched our third consecutive Big Ten East regular season title … with our third consecutive victory over our friends at Ohio State.

I’m so proud of the achievements of all our student athletes, for U-M must always be a place where our athletes excel as students, and our students excel as athletes.

This past year we earned nearly 500 Academic All-Big 10 selections, along with a record of almost 700 U-M Athletic Academic Achievement Awards.

Three of our students won individual national championships, and three others were named national players of the year. Together our teams won a record 13 Big Ten Team Championships in everything from women’s and men’s gymnastics to field hockey and ice hockey to women’s tennis and men’s lacrosse to rowing and women’s track and field and football.

As we succeed on the field and in the classroom, we are also growing and leading at our Flint and Dearborn campuses.


Our campus at the University of Michigan-Flint continues its essential, nearly 70-year tradition and mission of serving, educating and lifting.

For the first time in nearly a decade, UM-Flint enjoyed an increase of total fall enrollment, with 6,130 students, a gain of 2.4% from 2022. That included a nearly 12% increase in new undergraduate students for the second year in a row, as well as a 23% increase in new graduate students.

Today, UM-Flint is continuing to engage in a Strategic Transformation planning process, so that its upward enrollment not only sustains, but accelerates.

Interim Chancellor Donna Fry is working with the campus to refine the plan, and looking to the community for additional input and insight. Its goal is to help UM-Flint emerge as an academically strong and financially viable institution, one that is an undisputed leader in the region for economic growth and social mobility.


We’re seeing similar successes at UM-Dearborn under Chancellor Grasso.

This fall, UM-Dearborn welcomed its largest freshman class in history, with 1,157 new students. It also improved its four-year graduation rate for first-time college students by nearly 5% over this past year, saw a 3% increase in its five-year graduation rate, and a more than 4% increase in its transfer graduation rate.

The campus has also increased its external research funding by more than 100 percent since 2018.

The awarded and recommended research awards for the first four months of FY24 for UM-Dearborn are now above $7.5 million, and it recently received a $3.53 million grant from the Department of Defense for technology for the Army’s next generation fighting vehicle.

I’m excited about the future of UM-Dearborn, which continues to grow, and continues to lead.


I’m also proud that we have an incredibly engaged community of donors who are committed to seeing us grow and ensuring we’ll lead.

In addition to the incredible gifts I mentioned at the outset – including the gifts for the D. Dan and Betty Kahn Health Care Pavilion and the Marsal School of Education – Philip and Nicole Hadley made a $20M gift commitment toward the Hadley Family Recreation and Well-Being Center, and U-M Law alumnus John Hoyns committed $20M to the U-M Law School to fund scholarships for students with financial need.

More than 97,000 donors gave to U-M in fiscal year 2023, with the university receiving overall fundraising commitments of $643 million.

Every gift, no matter its size, comes together for great impact. In fact, ninety-eight percent of our gifts were less than $25,000, and over two giving days, nearly 14,000 donors supported student organizations and other causes across all U-M campuses.

Philanthropy is so critical, so essential to our mission. Its impact is more than building – though buildings will rise – its true impact is in shaping and transforming lives.


Finally, we must remember that no matter the tumult over the issues of the day, we remain fully committed to freedom of speech and diversity of thought at this university.

As dedicated as we are to the safety of students, staff and faculty – to creating an environment where each individual, regardless of their background or what they believe, can thrive without the fear of threats, intimidation or violence – we also hold sacred the right of members of the university community, including speakers and artists and others invited by members of our community, to offer their views and opinions.

Together, in the coming year, as is inscribed on our university seal, we will pursue arts, science and truth.

We will pursue the uplifting of every individual, and the greater good of our society.

We will pursue light and illumination.

And all that we do – this year, next year, and in all the years to come – will be infused and strengthened by our traditions, our values and our highest aspirations.

So let us go forward, renewed in our unity, and confident in our power and potential as one of the world’s great universities.

Thank you again … and Go Blue!