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Updated 3:00 PM May 2, 2005
 

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University of Michigan establishing Detroit Center at Orchestra Place

A new facility set to open this fall in Detroit will provide a home for dozens of longstanding U-M programs and expand University involvement with the community.

The 10,500-square-foot U-M Detroit Center will be located on the ground floor of Orchestra Place, 3663 Woodward Ave., at the confluence of the Mack Avenue/Martin Luther King Boulevard corridor.

Eighteen U-M units will participate in the center. The facility will provide offices and space for classes, meetings, exhibitions, lectures and collaborative work while serving as a home base for students and faculty working on projects in Detroit.

“The University of Michigan was founded in Detroit in August 1817, and we have remained committed and connected,” President Mary Sue Coleman says. “Providing a home for our many Detroit projects in the heart of the city’s cultural center makes us far more visible and accessible and enables us to be a part of its revitalization. We look forward to the way this center will strengthen the partnership between U-M and Detroiters.”

University faculty, students and staff currently commute from Ann Arbor to work on projects, but there is no central headquarters within the city. The lack of academic workspace in Detroit made it difficult for U-M to share information about the broad spectrum of activities the University holds in Detroit.

The center will complement U-M’s existing Detroit Admissions Office, located on the fifth floor of 3031 W. Grand Blvd. in the city’s New Center area, as well as the Legal Assistance for Urban Communities office the Law School runs at 8109 E. Jefferson Ave. U-M also has owned a portion of the Rackham Building at 60 Farnsworth St., north of Warren Avenue, for more than 60 years. That space has been leased to nearby Wayne State University since the early 1990s.

Anne Parsons, president and executive director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO), says: “In welcoming the University of Michigan to our ‘campus,’ the DSO is achieving one of the primary goals that we sought when creating Orchestra Place: to revitalize the Orchestra Hall neighborhood and stimulate new development. The breadth of U-M activities that will take place here is thrilling, furthering the development of this part of the Woodward corridor as a cultural and educational Mecca.”

Examples of programs that will be located in the Detroit Center include:

  • Larry Gant, professor of social work, will work with the Center for Urban Innovation—a partnership with Detroit community organizations seeking to provide access to wireless technology for the entire city;
  • The Taubman School of Architecture + Urban Planning (TCAUP) will use the center to prepare for its annual Detroit Design Charrette that brings 60 or more students to the city for four or five days each January;
  • The School of Art & Design (A&D) will host its “Detroit Connections” program in the center, as it works with city elementary schools on a variety of art projects.

The Office of the Provost is showing its strong support by funding half the cost of the center. The remaining amount will be shared by 17 units: the schools of A&D, Education, Information, Natural Resources and Environment, Public Health, Nursing, and Social Work; LSA; Ford School of Public Policy; TCAUP; Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies; Ginsberg Center for Community Service and Learning; Arts of Citizenship Program; Center for Afroamerican and African Studies; U-M-Dearborn; Office of the Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs and the Residential College.

“Since my first visit to Detroit seven years ago, I’ve wanted us to create a more visible physical Detroit presence in the city,” says Doug Kelbaugh, TCAUP dean. “If it weren’t for Detroit and the human capital and economic wealth that accumulated there in the first half of the 20th century, U-M would not be what it is today. We value the opportunity to work with Detroit, and look forward to further collaborations with its citizens, community groups, and institutions.”

Paula Allen-Meares, School of Social Work dean, says that the school has been active in the city for decades. She stresses that universities can serve as resources to create opportunity while community members know best what changes and improvements they need.

“The U-M School of Social Work has much to learn from the people of Detroit, and can offer them much in return,” she says. “Together we can truly have a positive impact on the city of Detroit.”

Bryan Rogers, A&D dean says, “In addition to providing a lively U-M presence in Detroit, the new center will encourage cross-talk and mutual support among those faculty, staff and students working with the Detroit community. Our independent efforts can more readily reinforce each other.”

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