Arts Initiative Announcement

(As prepared for delivery)

Thanks for that introduction Provost McCauley, and thank you again for your fantastic partnership.

I’d also like to thank:

  • Tina Olsen for hosting us this afternoon, and for doing such an outstanding job leading our Museum of Art and co-chairing the Arts Initiative
  • Christopher Audain, Alison Rivett, and the Arts Initiative Staff for their incredible work on this endeavor
  • Jonathan Massey, the Dean of our College of Architecture and Urban Planning and co-chair of the Arts Initiative and the entire Arts Initiative Working Group for putting this Arts Initiative together

In addition, I’d like to thank all of you here today who have been so engaged in the startup phase of this initiative, and who will be essential in seeing it grow and flourish across our campus and community. 

This has been an interdisciplinary effort from the start, and I’m so pleased to see so many of you from so many of our schools who have been so deeply invested in this effort.

We’ve come together because the arts infuse all aspects of our lives.

They draw us together as a campus and a community.

They provoke thought and provide meaning, deepening our understanding and lifting our eyes.

And the creativity and openness of the arts, coupled with the rigor of the sciences, can provide the inspiration and insights needed to find solutions for the world’s greatest challenges.

I’m convinced that we simply cannot continue to be one of the nation’s foremost public universities without being as exceptional in the arts as we are excellent in the sciences.

That’s why I’m so excited about today’s announcement.

Through our commitment of $20 million dollars over the next five years, we will accelerate transformative discovery and impact through the arts among our students, faculty and staff, and across our region and community.

What is more, we will meet the arts with action and accountability.

Specifically, we have four goals for this initiative, each with specific measures of success including:

  • Strengthening the student learning experience in the arts, ensuring that every undergraduate has the opportunity to engage with the arts during their time at the university.
  • Activating interdisciplinary discovery and arts research.
  • Broadening and deepening our connections with our partners and our community, making Michigan an even more compelling destination for artists and creatives locally, regionally, nationally and even internationally.
  • And building capacity and sustainability, so that at the University of Michigan, we build on our exceptional existing strengths in the arts, and continue to build our reputation as a national and global leader in artistic excellence and creativity.

Through each goal and every success, we will be opening our windows to the world a bit wider.

We simply do not know which students may be impacted, or what they will go on to create.

But we can be sure that through this initiative, we will be increasing imagination, which is fundamental to learning and discovery.

Albert Einstein famously said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

I would add that by connecting the arts to our campus and community more deeply than we’ve ever done before, will open new discoveries, create new possibilities and see further than we’ve ever seen before.

So thank you again, and I look forward to seeing us draw together, and grow together, and create a better future together through the arts.

Thank you.