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Updated 3:00 PM May 2, 2005
 

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Five days in Michigan: U-M scholars on the road again

Twenty-two faculty members will board a bus and drive into 13 communities throughout the state next week as the Michigan Road Scholars tour shows how U-M is tied to the entire state.

The goal: getting more researchers involved with areas of Michigan a majority of their students call home, and encouraging more service to the public and research to help address the state's needs.

"We get a cross section of people from all disciplines and one of the rules is you can't sit next to the same person more than once so this gets them introduced to each other as well as a crash course in the issues the state faces," says tour organizer David Lossing, associate director of government relations.

The five-day, 1,300-mile tour will visit Detroit, Flint, Saginaw, Lansing, Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Traverse City, Suttons Bay, Glen Arbor, Empire, Mackinaw City, Sault Ste. Marie, and Pellston before heading back to Ann Arbor.

The tour, begun in 1999, was suspended last year due to budget constraints. It returns this year with fewer participants to reduce costs. Members of the U-M community called for its return, saying it was important to continue the linkages that have proven helpful to faculty and communities across the state.

The last time scholars took the trip in 2003, they met Keith Cooley, an engineering graduate and former General Motors executive who promised the scholars as they toured Detroit, "This experience will change your life."

The tour touches on major issues facing Michigan, including learning about rebuilding of Detroit neighborhoods, subjects at the state capitol, environmental issues at northern Michigan's Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and a prison in Muskegon.

The trip is said to inspire the creative thinkers who participate to embark on more projects to aid the communities they visit.

For example, several veterans of past Roads Scholars tours returned to Detroit to participate in a Habitat for Humanity Workathon. Reynolds Farley, a veteran of the 2000 Road Scholar trip, developed a class called, "Metropolitan Detroit: Social, Economic and Racial Trends."

This year's tour will be the first to visit Mackinaw City and will be updated daily with sound and written files with the tour's first Web log, available at:
http://www.mrs-umich.blogspot.com
.

The 2005 itinerary:

May 2: Visit Focus: HOPE in Detroit then tour the city. The bus will then move to Flint for a tour of the GM Truck and Bus Plant and a reception at the U-M-Flint campus;

May 3: Visit Saginaw Public Schools, tour the State Capitol in Lansing, then travel to Grand Rapids for a U-M scholarship reception;

May 4: Tour of the Steelcase Corp. in Grand Rapids followed by a visit to Grand Valley State University's Water Resource Institute and a tour of the Muskegon Correctional Facility;

May 5: Visit Cherry Bay Farms, Suttons Bay; Cherry Republic, Glen Arbor; Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Empire; Colonial Michilimackinac, Mackinaw City; followed by dinner in Sault Ste. Marie;

May 6: A visit with the Sault Ste. Marie Chippewa Indian Tribe followed by a tour of the U-M Biological Station in Pellston before returning to Ann Arbor.

Faculty interested in participating in next year's trip can learn more about the program at http://www.umich.edu/~govrel/mrs/overview.html.

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