I want to thank the Faculty Senate for sponsoring this address, and
I thank you for joining me here today. All of us have a stake in the
future of our University.
I have been at Michigan for twenty-four months – sometimes, it
seems like twenty-four weeks, and sometimes, it feels like I have been
here twenty-four years. During this time, we have been squarely in the
national spotlight on significant, even landmark issues.
In typical Michigan fashion, we addressed our challenges and celebrated
our victories in full view of the public.
We debated our positions and options, reached decisions, and created
policies that have inspired institutions across the nation and world.
It is meaningful that I am speaking to you today in this superb auditorium,
a room that exemplifies the essence of the University of Michigan. The
monumental buildings on our campus express the high aspirations Michigan
has always sought.
Like so many of our campus spaces, Rackham embodies an exceptional architectural
design. Just look at the ceiling decoration – the pattern of curves
above you combines geometry and art, and the ceiling above this podium
is a profusion of color and design.
And, the aspirational design of this building is not at all unique on
our campus! Think of the magnificent curved height of Hill Auditorium,
the neo-Gothic ceilings of the Law School, the bold emblems on the ceiling
of Angell Hall, and so many more.
I regard our exquisite ceilings as having two functions: they represent
the creative vision of our founders, and they draw our attention upward,
They remind us of our ongoing challenge: how will we continue our great
tradition of looking upward, with ambition?
The University and its priorities
With the help and advice of many in our community, I have established
plans and initiatives that will allow us to strengthen the distinction
of the University of Michigan. I continue to marvel at the excellence
for which everyone here strives – and generally achieves! – on
a daily basis.
The sheer size, success, and scope of the University prompted a bold
theme for our capital Campaign: “The Michigan Difference,” which
was launched so well in May.
For me, this theme captures the profound heritage and future promise
of our University.
This concept of “The Michigan Difference” has meaning on
many levels – it refers to the difference we have made to our alumni,
and that they have made for the world. It points to the intellectual
discovery and scientific breakthroughs that our faculty and students
pursue every day.
We already have an array of extraordinary departments, schools, and
colleges, many ranked among the top in the nation.
But – as I have been considering “The Michigan Difference,” and
looking at our academic traditions, I realize that our most important
comparison and standard for improvement needs to be with ourselves. The
University of Michigan in 2004 is better than it was in 1999. And every
year, we must take steps to ensure that the years 2010 or 2050 will see
the best incarnation of the University in its entire history.
Last April, I articulated four key institutional commitments to our Board
I want to affirm those here, in the context of the ways they uphold and
enhance the “Michigan Difference.” I told our Regents that
• will re-affirm its efforts to sustain academic excellence;
• will foster intellectual engagement within our community and engagement
with the world around us;
• will build collaborative learning communities; and
• will dedicate its efforts to creating greater access to Michigan’s
Because we are a public institution, we must honor multiple and substantial
responsibilities: first and foremost, we explore the life of the mind.
But we also have an abiding commitment to the world in which we live.
That means we will reach out and offer our expertise and resources to
address issues that affect all of society. It also means that we will
continue to offer new generations of students the world of opportunities
that a university education can create.
The University of Michigan will
continue to define the great public university.
For me, possibly the most important definition of “The Michigan
Difference” is the understanding that this University is a unique
American treasure – both a great university and the very best of
public universities. In fact, it is that special intersection of academic
excellence and public commitment that provides the University of Michigan
with its greatest difference.
A university, more than most institutions, is an enterprise of constantly
renewing resources. In fact, a rapidly changing community is an essential
part of our identity and mission.
Even as we congratulate our 8,000 graduates each year, we are beginning
our search for the next 8,000 gifted students for our undergraduate,
graduate, and professional programs. This is an enormous responsibility,
and one upon which our future reputation depends. Three weeks ago, I
was delighted to welcome the best-qualified and largest freshman class
in the history of the University.
Our faculty community also experiences renewal each Autumn, when we
welcome newcomers to our campus, including promising young faculty and
Our new senior faculty members as well as our new assistant professors
bring us fresh worlds of creativity and expertise.
For example, Professor Steven Ratner of our Law School comes to us with
a scholarly record that includes path-breaking work on international
law and the phenomenon of failed state-nations. Assistant Professor Elizabeth
Gershoff of the School of Social Work has devoted her attention to children
and poverty, helping us identify and address the root causes and resulting
problems of impoverished families. Associate Professor Nadine Sarter
has joined our College of Engineering, adding her expertise in cognitive
ergonomics to our strengths in the area of physical ergonomics.
We had excellent reasons for selecting each of our remarkable new faculty
members. But it is also fascinating to hear the reasons they chose to
Three points appeared over and over: our outstanding academic reputation,
our tradition of interdisciplinarity, and our commitment to diversity
of all kinds.
I applaud their choice of Michigan, because they have discerned three
of the core values of our institution. In our academic departments, we
encourage the work of the solitary scholar as well as the teams that
work across traditional boundaries – we provide a setting that
welcomes all approaches to scholarship and creativity.
Our mission of discovery extends across the entire University: our
outstanding scientists and engineers, and our schools and colleges in
the public fields of policy and health, the environment, humanities,
arts, and architecture – which have an impact at all three of our
campuses. I will be working with Chancellors Mestas and Little of our
Flint and Dearborn campuses to find ways to advance elements of their
And as we all know, the instructional, research, and clinical missions
of our university depend on a superb staff. Everywhere I go, I am impressed
by the commitment and high quality of our staff, whether they are driving
our buses, keeping our networks operating, attending to the needs of
our students, or performing experiments in our laboratories.
I was delighted last year when Laurita Thomas agreed to take on the
demanding position of Associate Vice President and Chief Human Resource
Officer. She has brought significant experience and wisdom to the complex
web of our institution, along with her commitment to the development
of our staff.
So, I am enthusiastic about the people who are leading us into the future.
But in the midst of ensuring our continued quality, we have had to deal
with an unprecedented budget scenario.
The state took an unusually long time to set its contribution to our
budget for the coming year.
Indeed, we already started to write our budget request for next year,
even as we waited for the final budget for the current year.
The uncertainty has affected our ability to judge at what level to set
tuition, and how to proceed in a number of specific areas. It puts us
at risk for being more cautious than a great institution should be.
It also limits us. We have absorbed over $43 million dollars of cuts
to our base budget over the past two years.
I tell you these facts not to disturb you, but to reassure you about
the primary commitment of our University: our academic excellence.
We have had to make some difficult choices about cuts, but we were determined
to make sure that the quality of our educational opportunities continues
to grow stronger – along with the faculty, staff and facilities
that assure our quality.
In maintaining this commitment, I have a remarkable partner in our Provost,
Paul Courant. He brings exceptional value to his position in a very trying
period – he is a distinguished economist, and he is skilled at
keeping us all focused on our academic mission as we make budgetary decisions.
He keeps us attuned to the long-term health of the University and cautions
us against short-term savings that might do long-term damage. No cuts
are ever easy, but he has provided the wisdom of his professional expertise
and his long association with this University. We all owe him our profound
Our Regents have also been significantly involved in our budgetary discussions
and decisions, and I want to recognize their commitment to building the
academic quality of the University of Michigan. Our chancellors, vice
presidents, and deans brought sound decision-making to the budgeting
process, allowing them to pursue their core missions, even with reduced
Finally, I thank the faculty and staff for making sure that we are aware
of, and attend to, that which is most important and exciting in the face
of budgetary stringency.
Some of our new faculty members emphasized that my previous statements
about academic quality were an important component in their decision
to come here, so I want to reiterate that point.
My first priority is this: to protect and advance the academic quality
of the University of Michigan.
We are the guardians of a precious resource, for which every one of
us shares responsibility.
Today, I want to discuss the many ways we are bringing our commitments
and priorities to life, and the ways we will move forward.
The Campaign for “The Michigan Difference”
As I mentioned earlier, we launched a multi-year fundraising campaign,
titled “The Michigan Difference” in May, and it has begun
to transform our University.
Many leaders of philanthropic, business, and non-profit organizations
have agreed to volunteer their time and energy to help us meet our ambitious
goal of $2.5 billion dollars. We have already raised over half that amount,
but it will take a lot of work to attract the next billion we need to
meet our goal.
The Campaign for The Michigan Difference will be one most important
legacies of my presidency. I pledge my attention, energy, and effort
to this Campaign, so our University can advance its ambitious goals.
These funds are essential for professorships and scholarships, improved
and new facilities, and significant programmatic enhancements across
our schools and colleges.
Contributions from our donors provide the margin of excellence that
is so critical to Michigan’s prominence and its ability to create
one of the best educational environments in the world. Given the national
decline of state support over many years, philanthropy will become an
increasingly important component in building future strength at public
One of the best parts of my job is describing the energy and initiative
of our University, and helping potential donors become participants in
It is so rewarding to see the genuine delight on the faces of our donors
when they discover the joy of becoming closely involved in the aspirations
of our deans and faculty members, and when they realize that they can
make an enormous difference for generations of students to come.
Because we know how important this campaign will be to the future of
Michigan, my husband Ken and I decided to make a key leadership gift,
identifying areas where we wanted to make our own “difference” with
The endowed funds created through the Campaign will support the four
guiding principles I described at the start of my address: academic excellence,
active engagement, collaborative learning communities, and greater access
to Michigan’s academic quality. I have a wonderful example to share
with you, one that illustrates how philanthropy is helping us realize
all of those guiding principles in a single project.
Just two weeks ago, we celebrated the groundbreaking of our new facility
for the Depression Center, made possible by several very generous gifts,
particularly, ten million dollars from Ed and Mary Meader.
This Center embodies the collaborative potential of our faculty – it
draws upon the expertise of eight of our schools and colleges: Medicine,
Social Work, Nursing, Pharmacy, Dentistry, Kinesiology, Public Health,
and Literature, Science, and the Arts (LS&A).
A multi-disciplinary approach is essential to the study of depression,
especially if we hope to understand and treat the complexities of this
disease. So now, thanks to philanthropic support, our faculty and their
students can pursue their distinctive team approach at the new facility
for the Depression Center.
We have had other generous and visionary gifts, such as scholarship
support from Susan and Rich Rogel, who provided $22 million dollars for
scholarships – currently there are 152 Rogel Scholars on our campus!
Rich Rogel, a co-chair of our Campaign, had to work fulltime when he
was a student. Now, he is bringing the benefit of his education back
to Michigan to allow current students to devote more time to their studies.
The University community is fortunate to have had extraordinary donors
throughout its history: Horace and Mary Rackham, whose legacy we are
enjoying at this very minute;
William H. Cook, whose gift enabled us to create the impressive Law Quadrangle;
Stuart and Maxine Frankel, whose generosity will allow us to add a wing
to our Museum of Art.
Our donors are allowing us to create other new showcases for our artistic
and cultural treasures: the Kelsey exhibit wing, the Walgreen Center
and Arthur Miller Theatre, and the State Street gallery that displays
Two weeks ago, I had the privilege of introducing another exceptional
donor and announcing the news of his transformational gift.
Our Business School, now named the Stephen M. Ross School of Business,
received a $100 million dollar gift from Mr. Ross, the largest gift in
the history of the University of Michigan, and one of the largest in
all of higher education.
In addition to helping create “The Michigan Difference,” it
was also inspiring to hear Mr. Ross talk about the many ways his education
at Michigan transformed his own life. He told us that knowing he had
studied alongside some of the best students in the world, and had taken
classes from our outstanding faculty, stretched his horizons and gave
him the confidence to establish his extraordinary career as a developer
of major real estate projects in Manhattan and around the world.
Part of this gift will support a new facility for the Business School.
At the public announcement, Mr. Ross said: “buildings are built
from the inside out,” and he told us that the most important aspect
of facility design is what happens inside the learning environment.
I completely agree. Our new and renovated buildings are so much more
than bricks and steel – they are crucial tools essential for world-class
Long-term strategic planning for facilities
I have worked with the Regents and campus planners to develop a long-term
plan for the renewal and expansion of our buildings. Any university that
wants to exceed its past success must not neglect its physical plant.
I have focused our efforts on the need for continuous and thoughtful
investment in facilities, new and old. Ideally, capital planning should
be a pipeline into which no air bubble is introduced – the flow
of projects must be continuous.
Most importantly, our facilities speak to our aspirations and future
When I arrived on campus, I oversaw the completion of large-scale renovations
and new buildings – Hill Auditorium, the Gerstacker Building that
houses Biomedical Engineering, the new facilities for the Life Sciences
on Palmer Drive, and the historic renovation of this Rackham Building.
But also in the past two years, we have thoughtfully planned and designed
a significant new wave of facilities that are already beginning to rise,
or for which we will soon break ground.
• the Cardiovascular Center,
• a building for the School of Public Health,
• the new Depression Center,
• the new Weill Hall for the Ford School,
• the Ambulatory Surgery Center,
• the Walgreen Center and Arthur Miller Theatre,
• the new wing for the Museum of Art,
• the Academic Center in South Campus,
• the Kelsey exhibit wing,
• The Perry Building addition for ISR,
• and three buildings in Engineering.
These projects are changing the face of our campus.
Even as we assessed the specific academic needs and costs for each of
these projects, we have considered their role in the larger context of
campus planning. I addressed the Regents on the issue of long-term capital
planning a year ago, and emphasized that we always need to understand
how each new building can be integrated into the overall campus environment.
Careful master planning enables us to focus on our academic priorities,
to lead in technological innovation, and to explore new links among our
schools and colleges.
We are also preparing to launch other essential new projects in the
I am dedicated to working with Dr. Robert Kelch, our Executive Vice
President for Medical Affairs, and the deans and faculty of the Health
System to develop plans for a new Children’s and Women’s
Hospital – a critically needed state-of-the-art facility that
will be equal to the world-class care our medical staff provides, and
the miracles they make possible.
Later this week, Vice President for Student Affairs Royster Harper and
I will lead a discussion with our Board of Regents about our plans to
revitalize residential life at the University, another crucial priority
Residential life is a vital part of the student experience
The quality of the residential experience can make all the difference
in the academic experience of our students.
We want to develop small interactive communities within our residence
halls, where students can combine their intellectual and residential
This year, I will introduce the most sweeping renovation to Michigan’s
residence life system in the history of the University.
Within the next few months we will bring specific recommendations forward
to the Board of Regents for a new residence hall –
our first in THIRTY years – along with extensive renovations to
our existing facilities, including upgrades to our dining halls and technology
Our plans will take years to complete, but will benefit students for
generations to come.
We will tackle other opportunities regarding our infrastructure. I will
address the deterioration of the Frieze Building, and move forward on
new facilities in areas such as Biology.
The Life Sciences at Michigan
Biology is, of course, one of the cornerstones of our efforts to build
the life sciences at Michigan.
Across this country, states and universities are focusing on life sciences
as a key research area and economic driver for the future.
The State of Michigan and the University of Michigan staked out an early
claim as leaders in the life sciences with the creation of the Life Sciences
Corridor and our Life Sciences Institute. We were viewed as a powerhouse
when the new millennium started.
Ironically, one of the biggest hurdles has appeared within our own state,
which has reduced the funding of the Life Sciences Corridor, and has
expanded the mandate of the original Corridor to include automotive technologies
and homeland security.
These are both critical areas of research, but their addition, along
with the reduction in funding, have significantly lowered the opportunities
for the state’s original Life Sciences Corridor.
We must take immediate, determined steps to reaffirm our commitment
to the life sciences, because the competitive environment is fierce.
Along with others, I have been outspoken about the need to restore public
funding for research projects in the life sciences in the State of Michigan.
Fortunately, the Governor understands this priority, and she partially
restored its funding in recent state budget negotiations.
Within our own campus, I want to find more substantive ways to link
our many outstanding research programs.
In just one year, the Life Sciences Institute (LSI) has already brought
together twelve innovative scientists from inside and outside the University,
with appointments in departments including LS&A, Medicine, and Pharmacy.
They were drawn to the Life Sciences Institute because of the opportunities
for innovative collaboration, in new facilities that were specifically
designed to encourage cross-disciplinary work.
One of the great traditions of Michigan has been its ability to create
collaborative endeavors such as our world-renowned Institute of Social
Research, which, for fifty years, has been a model for path-breaking
work that cuts across traditional boundaries.
I have great hope that our Life Sciences Institute will provide an equal
opportunity for prominence, collaboration, and resources for the research
of all our scientists.
But life sciences at Michigan is more than the Life Sciences Institute.
We have exceptional and internationally competitive scientific programs,
housed in schools and colleges throughout our campus.
At night, I often walk across the campus. Sometimes I pause on the new
bridge that links the health sciences to the central campus. From that
vantage point, I can see a string of light connecting thousands of researchers.
Beyond the brightly lit glass walls of the Life Sciences Institute,
I can see the miles of glowing hallways of the Health Sciences, Nursing,
the new Biomedical Science Research Building, and, in the distance, the
gleam of Bioengineering and the Center for Ultrafast Optical Science,
housing the laser beams that connect back to the Kellogg Eye Center.
Turning back to the central campus, I look at the glow from the Chemistry,
Biology, Pharmacy, and Dentistry buildings – extending our bright
chain of discovery in the life sciences.
Here at Michigan, we have a sparkling path of progress, from the theoretical
to the practical, in plain view on our emerging life sciences campus.
Along that path, we want to construct a new Biology building that will
add to our reputation in the life sciences. This is part of our long-range
capital plan, replacing facilities that are obsolete.
The next stage in our vision for the life sciences must be a collective
step; together, we have to design the network that will better connect
the science units on campus. The Institute will be a cornerstone of our
work – as well as a valuable shared resource for collaboration.
But we have to improve the linkages among ALL our programs in the sciences.
I want us to focus tremendous effort on our outstanding research programs
in areas such as nanotechnology, tissue engineering, and serious medical
conditions such as diabetes and obesity. I believe we can also build
on our existing strength in the neurosciences.
I want to seek ways to make interaction even more accessible and seamless.
I am looking at models of scientific collaboration across the campus.
I know collaboration tends to flow from faculty member to faculty member,
and not across colleges –
I want to make this faculty interaction even more feasible, and to identify
ways that we might encourage colleges to work toward this goal more institutionally.
Even as we have made progress on our ambitious plans for our University,
I have also been involved in external projects and commissions that have
made me aware of the ways that we can use our minds and our resources
to deal with some vexing problems facing our society.
My work as co-chair of the Committee on Uninsurance at the Institute
of Medicine opened my eyes to the deep challenges facing the 45 million
uninsured citizens of our country, and caused me to look to our University
for ideas to address this crisis.
My appointment to the Governor’s Commission on Higher Education
and Economic Growth has provided me with new perspective on the complex
problems our state is facing, as it grapples with increasing numbers
of students and the need to educate them in ever more sophisticated ways.
These experiences led me to work with our executive officers, deans,
and faculty to identify several initiatives that the University of Michigan
is uniquely positioned to address.
I described these four initiatives to our Regents in April. I will outline
them here, and will announce the appointment of chairs for the task forces
that will move these efforts forward.
First: One of the hallmarks of our University is its interdisciplinary
scholarship. I want to make sure that we bring this strength into the
classroom. With the help of Provost Courant, I am supporting the development
of multi-disciplinary paired courses and other team-teaching initiatives
across colleges as well as departments. The Provost’s office is
establishing funds to support the design and the implementation of courses
that will engage our students in the fresh ideas emerging from the intersection
of scholarly fields. I am appointing Professor Philip Hanlon as chair
of this initiative; he is a member of the Department of Mathematics,
and is also Associate Provost for Academic and Budgetary Affairs.
Second: We will explore the creation of a center to study ethical issues
in the public domain. The almost cataclysmic decline in ethical behavior
in sectors of public and corporate enterprise affects us all. I am asking
a cross-disciplinary team of faculty members to draw upon our scholarly
expertise on this issue. Our campus has scholars in Law, Business, Public
Policy, Philosophy, and many other relevant fields, and I look forward
to their ideas for symposia, courses, and curricula on ethical conduct.
This initiative will be co-chaired by Professor John Chamberlin, who
is a faculty member in the Department of Political Science, as well as
in the Ford School of Public Policy, along with Vice President Marvin
Krislov, General Counsel for the University, and an Adjunct Professor
in the Law School.
Third: I want to create a University of Michigan prototype for new approaches
to the national focus on health and health care cost containment, an
urgent issue. We enjoy the singular position of having a hospital, health
care providers, insurance company, and health policy experts under our
collective roof. We are uniquely qualified to propose new models for
pre-emptive healthy lifestyles and better access to clinical care. I
am appointing two co-chairs for this effort: Professor Kenneth Warner,
of the Department of Health Management and Policy in the School of Public
Health, along with Vice President Lisa Tedesco, Secretary of the University
and Professor of Dentistry.
Fourth: I want our University to invest time, effort, and funding in
expanding and improving the residential experience of our students. We
can find a host of new ways to provide a better environment for learning
and living in our residence halls. Our staff and our deans have expressed
great enthusiasm for the possibilities we foresee in linking residential
and academic experiences. Our plans for a large new residence hall will
be augmented by significant renovations to our existing halls. In addition
to providing much-needed new space for students, we will create a showcase
for the innovative ideas that will emerge. I am asking two members of
our community to lead this initiative: Professor Robert Megginson, from
the Department of Mathematics, and Associate Dean for Undergraduate and
Graduate Education in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts,
along with our Director of Housing, Carole Henry.
Our ongoing commitment to diversity, access, and financial aid
Finally, I want to close by speaking about an underlying and long-standing
ethic in our community: our commitment to diversity. It was one of the
critical elements that attracted me to this position.
We successfully defended the right to use race as one factor in admissions
decisions, and we will continue to do so in the measured way described
by the Supreme Court. We are working to advance diversity throughout
our entire community.
Now that we have the Court’s guidance we are moving forward, but
we must continue to engage the issues at the heart of those cases.
If anything, we carry more responsibility today than ever before, because
those cases established the University of Michigan as the most visible
defender of the educational value of diversity in higher education.
It is essential that we maintain the confidence of our university and
the public on this front.
We define diversity broadly at Michigan – socio-economic status,
thought and ideology, sexual orientation, and geographic and cultural
backgrounds – even as we safeguard the trust of racial and ethnic
A little over a year ago, we unveiled the new undergraduate application
process which requires an individualized, holistic review of each applicant
and relies more heavily on student essays, along with taking full account
of academic credentials.
I am enormously proud of the efforts of our staff and faculty, who made
our new process work so well.
I was delighted to learn that our entering class of freshmen is the
most outstanding class ever admitted to the University of Michigan.
They come to us with exceptional high school grades and test scores,
and bring an impressive range of life experiences, talents, and achievements
in music, journalism, social activism – and about 600 of our freshmen
have already started their own businesses!
We have, however, identified an area that warrants attention, one that
is paradoxical in light of our Supreme Court success: despite our large
entering class, we had a lower number of applications overall, and we
are particularly concerned about the decrease in applications from underrepresented
Our admissions staff is extensively investigating the reason for that
drop, in order to identify steps we can take to make sure we extend a
clear welcome to students from all backgrounds.
This year, we are expanding our outreach to schools, are working even
more closely with guidance counselors, and are making constructive adjustments
to last year’s admissions forms.
This month, to enhance our outreach to underrepresented Latino students,
we will launch a comprehensive, Web-based Spanish language portal to
the University. While students will be required to complete the regular
application form in English, this new site will provide vital information
to the families and advisers of Latino applicants – many of whom
welcome Spanish-language resources.
From admissions to academics, housing, financial aid, and student life,
the front door of our University will open more widely to Latinos.
We are also looking at institutional efforts to foster diversity at
all levels, including the recruitment of faculty. The Provost and I agree
that the most important work we do is to hire outstanding faculty members.
Among other initiatives, the Provost’s Office supports deans when
they seek to hire faculty who are uniquely qualified or who contribute
to the advancement of our diverse community.
This year, I was delighted to meet so many new faculty members who are
bringing diversity and vibrancy to our University, in addition to their
outstanding scholarly and creative portfolios.
On a related front, Senior Vice Provost Lester Monts is my trusted counsel
on issues of diversity. Along with convening the Diversity Summit last
February, he has secured funding from the Ford Foundation to study the
feasibility of creating a national center for institutional diversity
at the University of Michigan.
He plans to conclude that study with a major conference in the Spring
of 2005 on institutional diversity, bringing many leading scholars to
our campus to discuss the national impact of this issue.
In the past year, I have often stated that Supreme Court decisions are
never the end point of any issue. The hard work always begins after a
decision is handed down, and we are entering a phase of very challenging
How will we ensure access to qualified students from backgrounds that
might not normally lead them to a great university such as this? How
can we support those students, financially and academically, once they
Hand-in-hand with the question of diversity is the issue of financial
aid for students of all backgrounds. Over the past thirty years, students
and parents have assumed an increasing percentage of the cost of their
education, as state contributions have declined nationally.
Earlier, I described how our capital Campaign will help create new scholarships,
but the need continues to outpace our ability to support qualified students.
For example, this year, one-sixth of our entering class came from disadvantaged
We have a proud commitment to meeting the demonstrated financial need
of all resident undergraduate students, but the Provost and I want to
finds ways to make an even more profound commitment to the most needy
We cannot afford to lose even one talented student if the only barrier
is financial aid.
And underlying all of this, we must address what is perhaps the most
important challenge of all: What can the University of Michigan do in
order to ensure that our country will reach a day when the policies of
affirmative action are no longer needed in college admissions?
This is an expectation set forth by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor
in her majority decision, and we are now only 23 years away from the
putative end date she proposed. We must undertake an enormous amount
of work to create a society in which children from all backgrounds have
equal access to opportunity, and a level playing field in university
I know the University of Michigan has the potential to create the programs
and the possibilities that will move us more rapidly to that day. We
can never afford to relax our efforts.
So, we are moving ahead on many fronts, all of which connect to our
core principles of academic excellence, active engagement, collaboration,
These values will allow us to advance the concept of “The Michigan
Difference,” and to provide that difference to our students, our
university community, and the entire globe. The more I learn about the
traditions and the accomplishments of each member of our community, the
more proud I am to stand here as your President.
In the lobby, you will find yet one more reason to gaze upward at the
aspirations of this magnificent University – another remarkable
Remember to look upward as you carry out the great work of our institution.
Thank you for coming today, and thank you for making your difference
to our rich academic heritage.