Michigan Means: Excellence + AchievementExcellence + Achievement

The Michigan Difference

As one of the world’s premier academic and research institutions, the University of Michigan must continually change to anticipate and meet the needs of an evolving global society. We must be prepared to follow paths that lead us in exciting new directions. Our interdisciplinary culture encourages the creativity and innovation that is essential to groundbreaking research, intellectual advancement, and artistic exploration — all hallmarks of the world-class university that is Michigan.

Solar Car Team Shines Again

North Campus transformation continues with stamps dedication

Behind the impressive list of donations and newly constructed buildings physically transforming UM-Ann Arbor’s North Campus is the thought-provoking goal of elevating the role of and public discussion about the intrinsic value of the arts. The dedication of the Stamps Auditorium on March 27, 2008, offered a symbol of that new direction—as well as a bold display of the broad, multidisciplinary support for that goal.

A gathering of deans, dignitaries, and students celebrated what President Coleman calls “the emergence of North Campus as a destination, a nexus of cutting-edge collaboration.” The 450-seat multipurpose facility adjacent to the Walgreen Drama Center provides a state-of-the-art stage for the visual and performing arts. The venue was named for Penny and Roe Stamps to recognize their significant generosity to the School of Art & Design and other units of U-M.

North Campus is home to the School of Art & Design; School of Music, Theatre & Dance; College of Engineering; Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning; and School of Information. In 2007 the North Campus deans launched Arts on Earth, a University-wide initiative that stimulates, explores, and celebrates the dynamic relationship between people and their arts worldwide. “Our hope is to create more of a community, where people work, study, and play closer together,” explains David Munson, dean of the College of Engineering.

The initiative sponsors a range of compelling events that explore the interrelatedness among academic disciplines and support interdisciplinary collaborations involving the arts. “Developing students’ creative talents—and creative thinking skills—is vital to preparing them for the emerging global culture,” says Bryan Rogers, dean of the School of Art & Design.” Few educational institutions in the world conduct leading-edge scientific and medical research, and provide a nurturing environment for creative work.”

Creativity + Innovation in Brief

Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine, and at last you create what you will. –George Bernard Shaw

  • Construction at Michigan Stadium prompted U-M officials to move the 2008 spring commencement ceremony to the Central Campus Diag, for the first time in U-M’s history. Workers brought in 30,000 folding chairs and 20 bleachers to transform the area into a graduation setting, trimming trees, laying down plastic flooring, and setting up a stage for the ceremony.
  • Linda Gregerson, the Frederick G. L. Huetwell Professor and professor of English at LSA, was one of four finalists in the 2007 National Book Awards for poetry. Gregerson is being recognized for her fourth collection of poems, Magnetic North.
  • An international study of 20,000 people, led by the U-M School of Public Health, found 7 new genes and confirmed 11 others that influence blood cholesterol levels. Finding new gene regions associated with cholesterol levels may help researchers develop better treatments for heart disease.
  • A market-based incentive program to reduce emissions from new cars and trucks would cut pollution as much as 33 percent and provide up to $2,500 in lifetime fuel savings for drivers, according to a new study by the U-M Transportation Research Institute.
  • “The Old Burying Ground,” an evocative song cycle composed by Evan Chambers, chair of composition at the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, was performed at Carnegie Hall in New York in February 2008 by the University Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Kenneth Kiesler.
  • Nearly 430 Ross School of Business MBA students participated in “Innovation Boot Camp Day,” a leadership-team building exercise inspired by TV’s “Top Chef” cooking show and sponsored by The Food Network. The event, which took place in August 2007 on Palmer Field, emphasized creativity and innovation as key aspects of leadership.
  • A new $5 million, five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health will bring the U-M Medical School closer to developing an implantable artificial lung that can serve as a bridge to lung transplantation. The grant will fund collaborative research with the College of Engineering Department of Bioengineering and the U-M Health System.
  • By mimicking a brick-and-mortar molecular structure found in seashells, U-M engineering researchers have created a composite plastic that’s as strong as steel but lighter and transparent. This “plastic steel” is made of layers of clay nanosheets and a water-soluble polymer that shares chemistry with white glue.
  • Kellogg Eye Center scientists have shown that a new metabolic imaging instrument can accurately detect eye disease at a very early stage. The noninvasive test takes less than six minutes. The device, patented through the Office of Technology Transfer, would be vision-saving because many severe eye diseases do not exhibit early warning signs.
  • The School of Art & Design exhibition “The Studio and The Lab” examined the boundaries between scientific discourse and artistic terrains. The piece shown above left by Michael Flynn, a lecturer in the School of Art & Design, explores creative uses for ferrofluid, which changes shape in response to fluctuations in magnetic fields.
  • The federal Office of Research on Women’s Health awarded a five-year, $6 million grant to the U-M Health System to study serious childbirth-related injuries that afflict millions of women. The unique multidisciplinary team includes gynecologists, engineers, nurses, and other researchers.
  • Inspired by William Shakespeare’s comedic characters, U-M drama students created an original work drawing on the clowns and fools of his plays. The production, entitled “Quick Comedians and Changeable Taffeta,” was presented at the Kennedy Center Family Theatre in Washington, DC, in May 2008.
  • A low-power microchip developed at U-M uses 30,000 times less power in sleep mode and 10 times less in active mode than comparable chips now on the market. The Phoenix Processor, which sets a low-power record, is intended for use in sensor-based devices such as medical implants, environment monitors, or surveillance equipment.
  • Legendary American choreographer Paul Taylor selected the Department of Dance in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance for the first-ever Paul Taylor Summer Intensive. The arrangement with the famous and influential choreographer could become an annual offering and help elevate the department to the forefront of dance schools.
  • U-M scientists have developed a lens-like device that focuses electromagnetic waves down to a point so small that it could allow a CD to hold up to 100 times more information than it now does. The breakthrough discovery holds promise for next-generation applications in data storage, non-contact sensing, imaging, and nanolithography.
  • Media violence significantly increases the risk of aggressive behavior by the viewer in both the short and long term, according to a new study by the Institute for Social Research. The study concluded that only the negative public health effect of cigarette smoking on lung cancer outweighed that caused by exposure to violent electronic media.
  • A new super laser made in a Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science lab produces a light ray of greater intensity than would be created by focusing all the sunlight shining toward Earth onto one grain of sand. In addition to medical uses, intense laser beams like these could help researchers explore new frontiers in science.
  • Autism researchers at U-M were among scientists from three schools selected by the National Institutes of Health to share a five-year, $15.3 million grant to study the impact of intervening with toddlers. The research will determine if such efforts can reduce or even eliminate the language impairments and social deficits associated with the disorder.
  • U-M scientists and their colleagues at the National Institute on Aging have produced the largest and most detailed worldwide study of human genetic variation. The new study produced genetic data nearly 100 times more detailed than previous worldwide assessments of human populations.
  • In October 2007 Block M Records’ annual “New Music on the Block” competition selected U-M students Rob Alexander, Dave Fienup, Alejandro Guerrero, and Jack Stratton as the winning entrants. Their original compositions were released on Block M Records and are available through iTunes Music Store.
  • James Kibbie, professor of organ at the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, has completed the first phase of an ambitious three-year project to record the complete organ works of Johann Sebastian Bach. When finished, some 270 compositions totaling approximately 18 hours will be available as free Internet downloads.
  • The Army awarded the College of Engineering a five-year, $10 million grant to develop a 6-inch robotic spy plane that gathers data from urban combat zones and transmits information back in real time. The grant establishes the Center for Objective Microelectronics and Biomimetic Advanced Technology, called COM-BAT for short.

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