The Michigan Difference

{ Leadership & Service }


Located in Argentina and Chile at the southernmost tip of South America, Patagonia has ice fields and glaciers in the south and mountains that rise into blue-gray mist in the east. Waterfalls thunder from cliffs into rivers so clean, people drink directly from them. This immense region is “pristine, immaculate,” says U-M senior Matt Raubinger, and so ecologically diverse that there are penguins in the desert and flamingos in the ice fields.

Raubinger was one of 18 students who traveled there in April for 10 days as part of “Sustainable Energy Development in South America,” a class co-taught by Steven Wright, the Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering in the College of Engineering, and Sara Adlerstein, research scientist and lecturer at the School of Natural Resources and Environment. This particular group studied proposals to build large new dams in the region. While the dams would generate hydropower for Chile, the social and environmental costs would be high.

The Graham Environmental Sustainability Institute funds the trips. The students, who come from various academic disciplines, must apply for the class and are admitted as “Graham Scholars.” This course and others like it, says Adlerstein, will create “new professionals who are going to integrate information across different fields. That's the kind of people we need for the future.”

Leadership & Service
Chile, Torres del Paine National Park waterfall

THE CHRONICLE of Higher Education named U-M one of the 2008 Great Colleges to Work For among institutions with 2,500 or more employees. The program addresses faculty–administration relations, compensation and benefits, and work/life balance.

UNDERGRADUATES HAVE a new and highly relevant major on their list of choices: informatics, the study of information and the ways people and social systems use it. The College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (LSA), the College of Engineering, and the School of Information spent nearly two years collaborating on development of the joint program.

DETROIT RENAISSANCE and The Detroit News honored the University Research Corridor and Congressman John Dingell for economic leadership when it named them the winners of their inaugural Renaissance Awards Program.

Leadership & ServiceACCORDING TO an independent 2008 report, University Research Corridor partners—Michigan State University, the University of Michigan, and Wayne State University—generated 69,285 jobs, educated more students than any of the nation’s best comparable R&D clusters, and produced $13.3 billion in economic impact in 2007.

THANKS TO A PARTNERSHIP between the School of Information and the United Way for Southeastern Michigan, the unemployed now have a new tool to help them get through difficult times. Neighbors4Neighbors, a project of the Keep Michigan Working Task Force, uses social computing technology to connect displaced workers with each other.

THE ANN ARBOR CAMPUS aims to cut utility costs by 10 percent over the next three years with an energy conservation program called Planet Blue, an education and outreach campaign that will target 90 large buildings. Planet Blue will combine energy-saving technologies and building upgrades with behavioral changes from building occupants.

IN FALL 2009, the School of Education began offering a master’s concentration in philanthropy, advancement, and development. The 30-credit program teaches leadership skills for emerging professional opportunities in government relations, marketing, communications, alumni relations, and fund-raising.

THE SHAPIRO LIBRARY became the first university library to install the Espresso Book Machine, a state-of-the-art printer that will allow U-M to offer on-demand, bound reprints from its digitized collection of nearly 2 million books, as well as works from the Open Content Alliance and other digital sources. It was purchased with donations to U-M libraries.

THE CENTER FOR Health Communications Research at the Comprehensive Cancer Center has received a five-year, $8 million grant from the National Cancer Institute to study cancer communications issues. The grant designates U-M as one of five Centers of Excellence in Cancer Communications Research.

UM-DEARBORN and Oakwood Healthcare Inc. transformed a vacant Dearborn building into a state-of-the-art learning center for kids, families, and future teachers. The 38,000-square-foot facility will house UM-D’s Early Childhood Education Center as well as Oakwood’s Center for Exceptional Families. Oakwood purchased the former UAW/Ford property last year.

WITH 82 ALUMNI currently serving, U-M remains among the top five on the Peace Corps’ top 25 list of large schools nationwide producing Corps volunteers. U-M has made the Top Schools list since the ranking system began in 2001, and also ranked fifth last year.

U-M IS COLLABORATING with seven universities to improve child welfare by offering training and resources through the new National Child Welfare Workforce Institute. The U.S. Children’s Bureau awarded a five-year, $16.5 million grant to fund the institute.

IN NOVEMBER, President Mary Sue Coleman received a Humanitarian of the Year award from the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion for her work advocating the educational value of affirmative action and diverse perspectives in the classroom.

PRESIDENT OBAMA named Rosina M. Bierbaum, dean of the School of Natural Resources and Environment, to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. The council advises the president in areas where understanding of science, technology, and innovation is key to forming responsible and effective policy.

FOR THE FIRST TIME, the Medical School topped $300 million in awards from the National Institutes of Health, and reached the national top 10 among medical schools for NIH funding. The performance impacts not only medical care and research, but also the struggling regional economy.

Leadership & ServiceONLY 5 PERCENT of Africans have access to the Web, compared with 74 percent of North Americans. Thanks in part to an engineering student project called IMAGINE Africa, some residents of rural Kenya now have e-mail accounts and Internet access.

THE SCHOOL OF Natural Resources and Environment launched the Teaching and Inspiring Environmental Stewardship program in March. The initiative will help educators, students, and the public better understand sustainability and the benefits of building green.

THE INSTITUTE FOR Social Research is one of four institutions selected to carry out the largest study to date of suicide and mental health among military personnel. With $50 million in funding from the U.S. Army, the new study will also involve the National Institute of Mental Health and the U.S. Army.

U-M RECEIVED a $3 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to work with Ghanaian health experts and authorities to strengthen human resources for health in Ghana. The Center for Global Health, School of Public Health, and Medical School will collaborate with two Ghanaian universities and the Ghanaian Ministry of Health.

FACED WITH THE toughest economic times since the Great Depression, U-M has earmarked $118 million in centrally awarded financial aid for fiscal 2010, including an 11.7 percent increase in financial aid for undergraduates. It is the largest investment in financial aid in U-M history.

A NEW WEBSITE that teaches English to Spanish-speaking immigrants attracted more than 500,000 visitors in its first three months. Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, is a collaboration between Project IDEAL at the Institute for Social Research and the Sacramento County Office of Education in California.

UM-FLINT WILL receive a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to encourage participation in health training programs among students from families with low annual incomes or from environments otherwise lacking in preliminary training for health professions.

SIXTEEN WOMEN from the Middle East and North Africa with advanced degrees will spend eight weeks working in local research labs through an exchange program organized by UM-Dearborn’s College of Engineering and Computer Science. The project is supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of State.

Leadership & ServiceTHE ANN ARBOR Languages Partnership, a new School of Education initiative, will provide Spanish language instruction to every third-grader in Ann Arbor public schools. U-M students will teach two sessions each week beginning fall 2009. The program will include fourth- and fifth-graders in 2010.

IN MAY, THE LIBRARY expanded its historic digitization partnership with Google. The amended agreement, based on Google’s settlement with a broad class of authors and publishers, strengthens the library’s preservation efforts and increases the public’s access to books.

THE LIFE SCIENCES Institute launched the Innovation Partnership last year, a novel program that provides “gap funding” to help shepherd promising biomedical discoveries to the marketplace. As of March, donors pledged about $2 million toward the program’s $10 million goal.

U-M ANNOUNCED in April that it would become a smoke-free campus as of July 1, 2011. The new policy will affect all grounds and buildings on the three campuses. The U-M medical campus has been smoke-free since 1999.

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