Our impetus for developing and sustaining community service and engagement activities comes from four primary sources: the schools and colleges for which service and engagement is a part of their academic missions, central units and campus groups whose primary function is outreach and engagement, individual and group initiatives among faculty, students, and staff, and external collaborations with other institutions.
In this section we will address each of these sources separately. The University of Michigan’s capacity for engagement and service is enhanced by several key strengths, identified below.
As part of the University’s preparation for the reaccreditation review, we asked each of the schools and colleges to respond to four questions about service and engagement at the University of Michigan. Their responses (see Units on Engagement and Service) describe the ways in which the schools and colleges commit themselves to and engage in such activities.
Schools and colleges embed service and engagement into their goals and activities, through, for example, a commitment to service, outreach, or engagement in their mission statements; through a service and engagement requirement in the curriculum; through making joint faculty appointments; through school- or college-wide days of community service; through establishing collaborative and long-term relationships with entities outside the University (e.g., with specific schools); through fund-raising activities; and through the many types of service and engagement activities they undertake, some of which were described above. Some examples are provided below.
These activities are examples of the sizable amount of engagement and service that University faculty members undertake, which by itself, although not featured heavily in this section, represents an important form of service the University provides to many different constituencies.
This section of the report focuses on the central offices or units for which service and engagement are integral to their work, and whose main purpose is to support the University in its service activities.
Office of the Vice President for Government Relations
The Vice President for Government Relations is the University’s senior officer in charge of planning, coordinating, and supervising the University’s liaison activities with local, state, and federal governments, which constitute the three main areas of activity within the office, as described below.
Established in 1996, the Ginsberg Center was named after Edward Ginsberg, a 1938 graduate of the University whose family “…hopes that the Ginsberg Center will inspire generations of young people to make service and compassion toward others a part of their own lives.” The Ginsberg Center is one of the largest, most comprehensive service-learning centers in the nation. Each year, close to 1,900 students take part in at least one of its programs, including one of the largest Alternative Spring Break programs. Students engage in community service and learning, for example, by tutoring for America Reads, joining the Michigan AmeriCorps Partnership, and volunteering through one of several student-led programs through SERVE. Students can also enroll in Project Community, a Sociology course through which they provide community service to numerous community organizations. Students participate in Semester in Detroit through which they live, work, and study in the city for a term. They also work in internships in community-based organizations. Faculty members, students, and community partners can share their public scholarship in the arts and humanities through the Arts of Citizenship program, which helps faculty members to strengthen and expand their public scholarship.
The goals of the center are to help students learn and develop leadership skills through community service and civic participation, to help faculty members do research and teach in ways that strengthen students’ learning and that help communities to develop, to assist people in communities by working in partnership with them to improve quality of life and also enhance student learning, to increase the numbers of University students who learn through civic and multicultural engagement, and overall to enhance the Center as an institutional vehicle for civic, multicultural, and leadership learning.
Ginsberg staff and volunteers engage community members as partners whose voices and perspectives have a significant impact on training students, setting goals, planning events, and developing programs. In May 2006 (updated 2008), the center adopted a strategic plan. The center seeks advice and consultation from its four advisory boards. The 20-member National Advisory Board is made up of donors, alums, students, faculty, and community members who advise the Ginsberg Center on its direction and priorities. The 10-member Faculty Council offers advice about advancing service-learning, community-based research, engaged scholarship in the academy, and the center’s direction. The Student Advisory Board, made up of about 15-20 University of Michigan students who have been involved in community service through the center and elsewhere at the University, provides input into Ginsberg Center activities and direction. The eight-member Community Advisory Board, with representatives from community-based organizations, insures that the center takes into account the community perspective in its planning and activities.
Center for Educational Outreach
An outgrowth of the 2007 Diversity Blueprints Task Force Report, the Center for Educational Outreach (CEO) has established as its mission to coordinate, synthesize, cross-fertilize, and strengthen substantive partnerships between the University and school systems in the state of Michigan. To this end, the center provides a clearinghouse for information and networking about University-sponsored and -affiliated programs, sponsors a Speakers Bureau of faculty and staff members, and administers a series of programs of its own--in collaboration with schools and community agencies.
Through partnerships and information sharing, the Center for Educational Outreach encourages students to plan for college attendance and to realize the value of higher education. At the same time, the center encourages colleges and universities to work collaboratively with schools and community agencies to provide access to higher education and financial aid in support of it.
Office of Technology Transfer
The mission of the Office of Technology Transfer is to effectively transfer University technologies to the market so as to generate benefits for the University, the community, and the general public. The office serves members of the University community by facilitating disclosures, patent requests, and other protections, and by providing assistance with start-ups, licensing, legal matters, and decisions.
Through these services, the University deploys the results of research to improve people’s quality of life, expands research opportunities through commercialization efforts, augments classroom teachings with valuable educational experiences for students, and creates jobs for University graduates and positive economic development for the community, the state, and the general public. In 2008, for example, the Office of Technology Transfer licensed 13 new business startups and took in $25 million in licensing revenue. Since 2004 the University has helped launch 49 startups, more than 70% of which are located in the greater Ann Arbor area.
The tech transfer office’s National Advisory Board provides strategic advice and guidance on the office’s programs, activities, and services. Comprised of representatives from industry, the venture and entrepreneurial communities, government, and other university tech transfer offices, the board has tackled numerous projects: benchmarking best practices in technology transfer, enhancing technology marketing, establishing a mentoring program, and finding solutions to the shortage of early-stage funding. It was the board’s work that led to the formation of Ann Arbor SPARK, a regional economic development partner, and it is the board’s efforts that have enhanced the tech transfer office’s strategic operations and provided a model of productive engagement with business and industry.
Business Engagement Center
In May 2008 the University created the Business Engagement Center (BEC) to help revitalize and diversify the state of Michigan’s economy. The BEC is sponsored jointly by the Office of the Vice President for Research and the Office of University Development. The center’s central office and its satellite office in the College of Engineering work together to create and expand partnerships with companies by linking business needs with University resources in the areas of research, technology, and education--including student talent--on the Ann Arbor, UM-Flint and UM-Dearborn campuses.
To help meet the needs of the center’s business and community partners, the BEC provides a number of services. For example, center staff members connect partners with talented Michigan students and alumni through career centers, student groups, and student teams. They also provide partners with information about how they can boost their presence on campus and connect with qualified students by, for example, sponsoring student scholarships, fellowships, and projects.
The BEC also works to connect businesses and community partners with the University for assistance in such areas as product development, technical operations, and organizational strategy. The center informs partners about faculty members and research topics in the University’s schools, colleges, institutes, and centers. The BEC staff also helps partners identify opportunities to use the University’s state-of-the-art laboratories and research facilities. In addition, partners searching for continuing education programs can use the BEC’s website to review programs offered by the schools and colleges. In its first year, the BEC assisted more than 100 businesses seeking University expertise, student talent, research partnerships, and professional development for employees.
University Corporate and Foundation Relations
The office of Foundation Relations at the university works with professional foundations, community foundations and family foundations alike. Among other activities, Foundation Relations connects donors and foundations with faculty on campus; organizes, plans, and host visits to campus; works with donors to assure their goals are met; develops proposals, gift agreements and grant letters; convenes campus conversations around themes of interest to donors; and helps deans and directors to think strategically about foundation support within their units.The staff also works closely with staff in University Corporate Relations to meet the needs of corporate foundations.
The Corporate Relations staff is based out of the university’s Business Engagement Center. The BEC helps companies create customized philanthropic programs that align directly with their business objectives and boosts their visibility on campus.
Public Goods Council
The Public Goods Council (PGC) is made up of thirteen academic units at the University not affiliated with a school or college that are dedicated to the advancement of scholarship and culture. The purpose of the Council is to promote greater and more effective use of the extensive resources, programs, and leadership qualities that Council units have to offer, and to promote collaboration among PGC members and other University entities to enrich the educational and cultural experience on campus and in the community.
Through its collaborative efforts, the PGC brings together in synergistic ways a rich body of public cultural resources, or goods, including art, music, book and plant collections, historical archives, scholarly resources, performance programs, coursework and experiential learning, all to benefit the public. The ‘public’ that the Council serves goes far beyond the University’s faculty, staff, and students. It also extends to public school students and teachers, residents of Ann Arbor and the state of Michigan, arts and cultural organizations, public-service units, and countless other community groups.
Council members include three arts organizations (Arts of Citizenship, Arts on Earth , and Arts at Michigan), four libraries (the University Library, the Bentley Historical Library, the William L. Clements Library, and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum), four museums (the Exhibit Museum of Natural History, the Kelsey Museum of Archeology, the Museum of Anthropology, and the Museum of Art), the Matthaei Botanical Gardens and Nichols Arboretum, and the University Musical Society.
A key element of the University’s capacity and commitment is its ability to communicate with the general public and especially its external constituencies about the various programs and services it undertakes out of its service commitment. The University of Michigan Gateway, which includes a mirror Spanish edition, provides a central access point for information about the University. The University also hosts a large site on Facebook and streams information through YouTube and iTunesU channels. Several specific means of communication are described below.
Community Assistance Directory
The Community Assistance Directory (CAD) is maintained by the Office of State Outreach in the Office of the Vice President for Government Relations. The directory helps Michigan residents find information about the University’s outreach projects and services from which they or their communities may be able to benefit. Directory listings include program descriptions, geographic location, online links, and contact information. The CAD listings represent a diverse set of activities and organizations in fields such as the arts, communications, education, the environment, information technology, and social services.
The CAD includes over 30 different types of service and engagement activities. The listings can be sorted into more than fifteen types of target groups, including business and industry, health care, non-governmental agencies and associations, philanthropic organizations, and labor unions. The foci of projects and services cover a wide range, from information technology and workplace matters to health, and from wellbeing to citizenship and civic responsibility.
The University has several outreach programs that focus on K-12. These include the initiatives below.
Michigan Road Scholars
Established in 1999 by the Office of the Vice President for Government Relations, the main goal of the Michigan Road Scholars Tour, which is an annual five-day traveling seminar for about 20 University faculty members, is to increase mutual knowledge and understanding between the University and the people and communities of the state. This educational tour across the state exposes participants to the state’s economy, government and politics, culture, educational systems, health and social issues, history, and geography. It also introduces participants to the places the majority of University students call home, encourages University service to the public, and suggests ways the faculty can help address state issues through research, scholarship, and creative activity. In addition, this shared experience develops ties among the touring faculty members and is a catalyst for interdisciplinary discussion. In 2001 this program received a Circle of Excellence in Communications Award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).
Experts (News Service)
The University’s News Service maintains a list of experts who are searchable by name or by topics, including the areas of Arts & Humanities, Science, Engineering & Technology, Health & Medicine, Politics, Law & Public Policy and Social & Behavioral Sciences. Under each of these topics, the contact information for between 10 and 50 specific topics is provided.
The University of Michigan’s library system provides a richness of resources to the general public. This includes in-library access to shelved materials and access to the many digital holdings in Hathi trust, the Michigan Digitization Project that was described earlier in the report.
In addition, the Scholarly Publishing Office (SPO) in the University Library plays an important role in disseminating library collections. The office’s mission is to serve the scholarly community by providing sustainable electronic publishing services, supporting local control of intellectual assets, and exploring opportunities to extend and disseminate library collections. The SPO publishes a range of material in many fields, including journals, books, online exhibits, digital scholarly editions, and much more.
Michigan Radio is a service of Michigan Public Media, the public broadcasting company at the University of Michigan. Radio service began in the early 1920s, and in 1948 Michigan Radio began broadcasting from the Ann Arbor campus on WUOM. The stations of Michigan Radio are licensed to the Board of Regents of the University of Michigan.
Michigan Radio was a pioneer in educational broadcasting, producing programs in the 1950s and ‘60s that were heard throughout the country on educational stations and some commercial ones. In 1971 the station became a charter member of National Public Radio. From its first days on the air, Michigan Radio’s program service consisted of music, news, discussion programs, lectures, dramas, and documentaries, most of which were produced in the station’s four large studios in the LSA Building. Michigan Radio, which regularly wins awards, has grown to become one of the largest public radio stations in the country, with hundreds of thousands of listeners tuning in each week.
Innovation Economy Website
The University of Michigan is committed to encouraging innovation, entrepreneurship, and business development in the region. To promote this goal, the Innovation Economy web site provides a portal to the many economic development activities across the University’s large and decentralized campus. This site is intended to give business partners, civic leaders, government officials, and others a comprehensive and coherent view of University services and programs, and to encourage partnerships and collaboration. The site also supports greater connectivity among faculty, staff, students, and alumni who work in entrepreneurship, commercialization, industry oriented or sponsored research, community economic development, and business development.
An important aspect of the University’s capacity to provide service and outreach to its constituencies is facilities dedicated to this purpose. For many service and outreach initiatives, the University supports these efforts through its general overhead costs (e.g., office use and staff support, where applicable). We highlight below some of these facilities, situated in off-campus in both state and national locations.
As mentioned above, much of the funding for service and outreach activities is folded into units as part of the ongoing planning and budgeting process. Some funding programs, however, exist as stand-alone efforts to support service and engagement activities among University faculty members and students. Below are brief descriptions of these programs.
Before describing a sampling of programs and initiatives at the University, we mention two examples of the University’s recognition in the field of service and engagement activities.