Engagement and Service

Service and Engagement Activities



Core Component 5c: The organization demonstrates its responsiveness to those constituencies that depend upon it for service.

In the previous section, we provided information that demonstrates the University’s capacity to identify its constituencies, to plan, and to undertake service and engagement activities. In this section we provide examples of the types of programs the University offers to some of its external constituencies, including broad-based activities, in many areas, such as K-12 schools, the arts, social justice, civic engagement and policy, business and industry, colleges and universities, continuing education, non-profit organizations, communities, health care, international initiatives, and student involvement on advisory boards. These categories illustrate the breadth of programs the University undertakes, many of which have overlapping goals that represent more than one category.

Broad-based Initiatives

  • The Ginsberg Center’s SERVE program is a cluster of student-run programs that give students the chance to help address serious social issues through community service, leadership training, social justice education, and social action. Student leadership teams and committees work together to plan and implement six different SERVE programs: Alternative Spring Break, Alternative Weekends, ISSUES Education & Awareness, North American Summer Service Team, Volunteers Involved Every Week, and Pangea World Service Team. As an example of these options, Alternative Spring Break (ASB) offers a community service learning experience during the traditional Spring Break on the academic calendar. During the academic year leading up to the ASB experience, students learn about the culture and history of the particular area, community, or issue. During spring break, groups travel to selected sites to engage in activities that help them to increase their understanding of the root causes of social issues. The goal is for students to become aware of community needs and resources, translate their experiences into a better understanding of the social problems at hand, and foster their commitment to becoming part of the long-term solution. Through ASB, students have delivered meals to AIDS patients in New York City, repaired homes damaged in natural disasters, engaged with urban youth in Chicago, worked with members of the Sioux nation in South Dakota, learned about sustainable agriculture in Texas, and participated in community non-violence programs in Detroit.
  • The Michigan Ross School of Business Enriching Academics in Collaboration with High Schools (MREACH) brings Detroit and other Southeastern Michigan high school students (urban and rural) to the Ross School of Business for a series of action-based learning experiences. MREACH is a long-term action plan for recruiting and retaining talented underrepresented high school students in both a school-based and campusbased program to encourage them to attend college and to study business and accounting. Educational programming introduces high school students to basic theories of business disciplines, with a special emphasis on accounting as the fundamental building block. MREACH also offer students insight into the college planning process and information about business careers. The program also allows current Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) students to facilitate the on-site program and serve as mentors during the periods between on-campus events.
  • In September 2001, the Center for Public Health and Community Genomics (CPHCG) was formed through a cooperative agreement between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Association of Schools of Public Health. The center received a 5-year National Center for Research Resources (NIH) Science Education Partnership Award to expand its activities to integrate information on genomics and public health into K-12 education. Through this effort, five high schools in Detroit and three high schools in Flint have developed and implemented a new curriculum addressing molecular genetics and genomics. Project participants have revised the curriculum based on teacher and student feedback, and have also developed professional education materials for teachers. Paralleling the curriculum activities, the schools engage parents and other community members in a series of activities. Through these activities they involve the community in helping to shape the curriculum to ensure its relevant to the lives of the students and their parents; in improving the community’s awareness and appreciation for genomic science and research and its applications; and in strengthening students’ learning and interest in science through joint activities in which students work together with their parents and other community members.
  • Recognizing that a successful undergraduate support program is only possible after building the groundwork during students’ pre-college years, the Women in Science and Engineering Program (WISE) runs an active outreach program to secondary schools. The Girls in Science and Engineering program brings 7th and 8th grade students to campus for one week during the summer. While at the University, students participate in hands-on projects in engineering, the Human Genome Project, chemistry, physics, and space science, as well as sessions on computers, careers, and ethics in science. In addition, WISE offers the ENGAGE program, a nonresidential one-week program for 10th and 11th grade students, to encourage young women to consider careers in science and engineering. Students learn about women engineers and the contributions they make to society, the engineering process, and engineering problem solving.
  • The Multicultural Engineering Programs Office (MEPO) in the College of Engineering serves students from all backgrounds. MEPO’s outreach and recruitment programs reach K-12 students who are traditionally underrepresented in the field of engineering. In conjunction with the Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program (DAPCEP), MEPO also offers a series of five Saturday classes per year to 7th and 8th grade students. Geared to this age group, the classes focus on confidence-building and hands-on activities. Various engineering departments sponsor courses. For example, The Glow Blue course, sponsored by the Department of Nuclear Engineering, introduces students to energy sources, exponential decay, hands-on reactor activities, spectroscopy, and virtual reality.
  • The Michigan Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (MI-LSAMP) in the College of Engineering was initiated in 2005 with a grant from the National Science Foundation. Partners include the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Wayne State University, and Western Michigan University. The goal of the program is to increase significantly the number of underrepresented minority students earning baccalaureate degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields from the participating universities, and to prepare them for entry into graduate programs. Support for students in the program begins with pre-first-year summer programs and continues through graduate school. As MI-LSAMP scholars, students participate in a variety of activities that include working with faculty members and professionals who conduct cutting-edge research in STEM fields, internships and co-op placements, and use of the various support services and programs on campus. The program also sponsors an All Students Day, where participants from all four campuses meet, network, and receive additional guidance for their first year of college.
  • Teach for America is a national corps of recent college graduates who spend two years teaching in urban and rural public schools and become leaders in the effort to expand educational opportunities. Although this is not a University program, we include it here because University of Michigan students have historically been the largest number of graduates of any U.S. college or university to enroll in the program.

The Arts

  • artscTo foster public scholarship, the University’s Arts of Citizenship program offers a set of programs that brings University faculty, staff, and students into projects as collaborators with educators, cultural and arts institutions, government, and community partners. Among other goals, these endeavors engage faculty, staff, students, and community partners in ever-greater numbers of sustainable opportunities to enrich curriculum, research, and creative work, and to expand the social capital of community collaborators. The program also provides grants to support research, creative work, and intellectual conversation to advance the roles of the arts, humanities, and design in public life. For example, each year University faculty members may submit grant proposals with budgets of up to $20,000 through the Arts of Citizenship Faculty Fellows Program. Arts of Citizenship faculty fellows pursue collaborative scholarly, creative, and/or cultural projects with community partners such as schools, advocacy or arts organizations, museums, and community-based organizations. The Arts of Citizenship program encourages interested faculty members to propose collaboration among multiple units, staff, and students. Proposals are also reviewed for their plans for scholarly publications, creative projects, and tangible public goods. Grant funding may be used to hire project staff (student or non-student), purchase research materials, travel, pay for faculty release time, cover summer supplements, and pay for events.
  • Begun in 2000, Detroit Connections is an arts outreach program that connects undergraduate students in the School of Art & Design with the city of Detroit by providing high-quality arts education programming to a resource-poor elementary school in the city. Since the program was created, the curriculum has evolved to meet the partnering school’s needs by working to support other areas of the school’s programming, and also by providing a much-needed opportunity for participating children to bring their interests and lives into the classroom. The children participate in activities that promote creativity, free-form expression, one-on-one collaborations with college mentors, and multidisciplinary processes such as measuring, planning, and creative writing.

Social Justice, Civic Engagement and Policy

  • Created in 1995 as a domestic version of the Peace Corps, the federal AmeriCorps program is part of the Corporation for National and Community Service, which also oversees the Learn and Serve America and the Senior Corps programs. Through these programs, more than 2 million Americans of all ages and backgrounds engage in service each year. The Michigan AmeriCorps Partnership (MAP) began in 1995 as a partnership with the Michigan Neighborhood Partnership. It has since expanded to the point that students in seven graduate and undergraduate programs at the University annually serve over 30 non-profit organizations, most of them based in Detroit. MAP volunteers address the needs of local citizens through direct service in the areas of education, urban planning, social work, health, and economic development. By working on projects in partnership with nonprofit organizations, students and community members earn stipends and are eligible to receive educational awards.
  • Founded by student activists in the 1960s, Project Community is one of the nation’s oldest service-learning courses. Early members of this student organization traveled to the South to participate in the Civil Rights Movement. Initially volunteering at schools, prisons, and hospitals in the Ann Arbor area, these students sought out faculty members who could support their community practice with academic theory through independent study. In the 1970s, Project Community became a formal course, a partnership between the Department of Sociology and the Division of Student Affairs. Each year approximately 500 students combine academic learning with service to the community.

Business and Industry

In FY 2008, levels of industry sponsorships for University research reached $43 million, more than 11% over FY2007 and more than 25% above FY2006 levels. Beyond University research in conjunction with business and industry, this section of the report will describe a few examples of the ways in which the University serves this key constituency.

  • sparkAnn Arbor SPARK is a public-private partnership that advances innovation-based economic development in the greater Ann Arbor region. By identifying and helping to meet the needs of area businesses, SPARK aims to establish the region as a desirable place to locate and expand businesses. The University has an important stake in this partnership alongside the area’s business, government, entrepreneurial, and community leaders. Reflecting the University’s commitment to this initiative, the president of the University is a member of SPARK’s Board of Directors, while the vice president for research and the executive director of the Office of Technology Transfer are members of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee. The founders of SPARK see the colleges and universities in the Ann Arbor region as the foundation for human capital in the area. Specifically, SPARK cites the Medical School, Ross School of Business, and the Office of Technology Transfer as economic engines and as accelerators of business innovation in the Ann Arbor area. Contributions from the University, such as attracting federal research labs and new biotech companies, are featured on SPARK’s website, as are testimonials from the news media.
  • urcThe University Research Corridor (URC) is an alliance among Michigan State University, the University of Michigan, and Wayne State University to transform, strengthen, and diversify the state’s economy. The URC disseminates information to key stakeholders, including people in the business community, researchers and students, policymakers, and other investors. The goal is to enhance outreach and collaborative efforts, speed up technology transfer and development, and convey the advantages of doing business in Michigan. The URC website provides numerous examples of partnerships in five designated areas: Talent Attraction and Retention; Economic Development; Research Partnerships; Joint Life Sciences, Biotech, and Healthcare Projects; and Regional and Community Outreach Efforts. According to the “Second Annual Economic Impact Report,” commissioned by the University Research Corridor, in 2007 the URC universities generated 69,285 jobs, educated more students than any of the nation’s best comparable research and development clusters, and produced $13.3 billion in economic impact. The 2008 report, which was prepared by Anderson Economic Group, LLC, describes in significant detail the economic impact of the URC on the state.
  • muciIn 2001, Michigan State University, the University of Michigan, and Wayne State University established the Michigan Universities Commercialization Initiative (MUCI) to enhance technology transfer activities by working closely with venture capital and industry representatives. Since MUCI’s inception, six other Michigan universities have joined this effort, along with the Van Andel Research Institute in Grand Rapids. The MUCI Challenge Fund is a competitive, peer reviewed award program that provides essential gap funding for early-stage technologies with the potential for commercialization. An incubator liaison helped member institutions procure incubation space and facilities, which were not readily available prior to the SmartZone system’s development. MUCI also disseminated technology transfer educational materials and shared best practices through newsletters, a website, publications, and joint meetings. The URC website lists 23 start-up companies that have benefitted from this initiative.
  • Collaborations with the Automotive Industry. The University of Michigan plays a major role in using its research expertise to support collaborations with partners who represent a core component of Michigan’s economy, the automotive industry. For example, General Motors has partnered with the University to conduct a wide range of automotive research from engine systems to manufacturing and materials processing. In addition, the University’s Transportation Energy Center, Automotive Research Center, and Lay Automotive Laboratory conduct research on new energy conversion options and alternative fuel infrastructures.

Colleges and Universities

  • In 2006, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation selected the University of Michigan as one of eight institutions to be part of its program to increase the opportunity for high-achieving, low- to moderate-income community college students to earn bachelor’s degrees from selective four-year institutions. With this support, the University reaches out to all 31 Michigan community college and tribal campuses to increase the number of transfer students. As one result of this effort, the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program (UROP) has created the Jack Kent Cooke Summer Research Fellowship for community college students interested in transferring to the University of Michigan. The goals of the program are to increase participants’ skills and knowledge in a specific field, and to explore areas of interest for potential graduate work.
  • In response to an invitation from the presidents of the University Research Corridor, 24 public and private colleges and universities across Michigan founded the Michigan Higher Education Recruitment Consortium (MI-HERC) in the fall of 2007. The MI-HERC member institutions are particularly interested in recruiting diverse applicant pools, and in helping the spouses and partners of prospective and current faculty and staff members to find jobs. A vital aspect of the Michigan HERC is a web-based search engine, which is free and open to all, that features faculty and staff job postings at all member institutions.

Continuing Education

Continuing education, an activity that involves several units at the University, is also an important form of service, albeit generally not a free one, that the University provides to people across the globe.

  • Through its Executive Education program, the Ross School of Business offers programs in seven topic areas: General Management, Leadership, Human Resources, Marketing, Sales, Operations, and Labor Relations. The Ross School’s executive education programs is the action-based learning in which participants co-create with the faculty their own personalized learning experiences. Through this action-based learning model, program participants develop the insight and confidence to size up a business situation, generate alternative courses of action, implement a successful solution, and directly apply their learning to real opportunities and challenges. Senior faculty members in the Ross School serve as instructors, with a focus on high-impact ideas they draw directly from proven, real-world success. Fully engaged and actively involved throughout, the faculty members deliver programs in a highly interactive, hands-on learning style. This results-driven approach to executive education attracts thousands of executives from more than 70 countries around the globe.
  • Created in 1959, the Institute of Continuing Legal Education (ICLE) in the Law School is a nonprofit continuing legal education organization. ICLE is co-sponsored by the State Bar of Michigan, University of Michigan Law School, Wayne State University Law School, Thomas M. Cooley Law School, University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, and the Michigan State University College of Law. ICLE has a reputation for providing attorneys with high-quality, accurate, up-to-date, Michigan-specific products and seminars. Each year the Institute offers 70-80 individual seminars and more than 250 presentations. In addition to a regular staff that includes ten attorneys, ICLE has a network of volunteer speakers and authors who contribute to its publications and seminars. The ICLE also makes many of its seminars available to lawyers throughout the state as webcasts.
  • The Office of Continuing Medical Education (OCME) in the Medical School annually plans and produces over 100 Continuing Medical Education (CME) activities for physicians and healthcare professionals. OCME provides services for planning and producing CME activities in a variety of formats. The office’s eighteen fulltime professionals have expertise in six topical areas: educational planning and research; managing business and industry relations; planning and producing meetings in local, regional, and national venues; designing, producing, and delivering promotional materials; financial management and accounting; and administering registration, records, and legal documentation. Annually OCME provides CME instruction for more than 2,000 University of Michigan Health System (UMHS) physicians and other UMHS clinical personnel, and also for more than 12,000 physicians and other health care professionals in the region and across the nation. In 2006 the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education awarded the Medical School with its Accreditation with Commendation rating, reflecting the Medical School’s commitment to providing high quality educational programs that meet the needs of the University and external constituencies.
  • Executive and Continuing Education programs in the School of Public Health enable working professionals to stay up-to-date on the latest developments in their fields and to expand and further their professional interests. Programs include the Michigan Public Health Training Center, Continuing Industrial Hygiene Education, the Michigan Center for Public Health Preparedness, the biennial Public Health Symposium, and the annual Health Management and Policy Symposium.


pbsnhstillPBS NewsHour's Patchwork Nation offers examples of the postitive relationship between the University of Michigan and the town of Ann Arbor in a December 2009 video segment. Other example actvities are:

  • The Nonprofit and Public Management Center (NPM), a joint effort of the Ross School of Business, the Ford School of Public Policy, and the School of Social Work, links the nonprofit community to the University. The center develops educational opportunities for students, creates a research environment for faculty members and doctoral students, and forges long-term, practical relationships with nonprofit organizations. Participating students learn about how societies mobilize resources to address a wide array of challenges, and how nonprofits can increase their ability to effectively lead and manage their organizations toward meeting their missions. The center partners with nonprofits to bring about a mutually beneficial experience for both the nonprofits and the University’s graduate students. Through hands-on experience, students have the chance to use the tools they’ve learned in the classroom and, in many cases, to be part of governance board discussions and decisions. Since 2002 the center has placed hundreds of students on the governing boards of more than 125 nonprofit organizations in southeastern Michigan. The center’s Domestic Corps, which offers Ross School of Business students paid summer internship in nonprofit organizations, has placed hundreds of summer interns in more than a hundred nonprofit organizations across the country. Through these internships, students help organizations to develop marketing strategies and to engage in strategic planning, finance, and other management-level projects. In addition, the center’s Student Advisory Board gives graduate students in the three sponsoring schools a chance to help the center set direction for student services.
  • The Making of Ann Arbor project is a public collection of resources on the history and development of the Ann Arbor community that was created collaboratively by the Bentley Historical Library, the University Library, the Ann Arbor District Library, and local K-12 schools. These partners collected historical information and photographs for a narrative overview of Ann Arbor history, which is contained on the website of the Ann Arbor District Library.
  • The Semester in Detroit program allows University students to put down roots in Detroit for a full semester, allowing them to become more deeply invested in the city in ways that aren’t possible while commuting. While living at Wayne State University, students learn about such topics as Detroit history, urban planning, non-profit administration, community development, and arts and culture. Funded by the Office of the Provost, with additional support from LSA, the Ginsberg Center, and the Residential College, the program invites students to take courses through LSA, the School of Art & Design, and the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. In most circumstances, students also may enroll in classes at Wayne State University. The program supplements formal classroom studies with opportunities for students to interact with community leaders and activists. Program staff members match students with Detroit community and cultural organizations, where the students select community projects to which they will dedicate 16 hours per week throughout the semester.

Health Care

  • urcdetroitThe University of Michigan Schools of Public Health, Nursing, and Social Work have joined the Detroit Department of Health and Wellness Promotion, eight community-based organizations, the Henry Ford Health System, and others to form the Detroit Community-Academic Urban Research Center. Developed in 1995, the center seeks to identify problems that affect the health of residents on the east, southwest, and northwest sides of Detroit, and to promote and conduct interdisciplinary, community-based participatory research that recognizes, builds upon, and enhances the resources and strengths in those communities.
  • The Dance Marathon at the University of Michigan (DMUM) is one of the largest student-run, non-profit organizations on the University of Michigan’s campus. Through year-round events, the DMUM raises awareness about the needs of pediatric rehabilitation programs and also generates funds to support it. These creative and interactive therapies enrich the lives of children, their families, and their communities. Funds are used to support rehabilitation programs in C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor and Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak. The organization’s work culminates in March when hundreds of students stand on their feet for thirty hours to show their dedication to the children, families, and hospitals they support. At this event, hundreds of individuals and groups from campus and the community come together to raise awareness about pediatric rehabilitation.
  • Through the Community Outreach Rotations course in the School of Dentistry, dental students provide comprehensive and patient-centered oral healthcare to culturally diverse groups of people. In addition to providing oral healthcare to an underserved population, the course aims to help students appreciate the depth of unmet need in the underserved population and to have them work with practitioners who serve the underserved population; to “test drive” community healthcare clinics as a possible future career; and to get a feel for dental public health as a specialty. Students complete their assigned rotations at one of eleven community healthcare clinics, specialized programs, extramural rotations, or pilot programs.
  • The Patient Family Education Resource Center (PERC) of the University of Michigan Health System links cancer patients to the most current information and resources. The center houses a full-service library with a comprehensive collection of print and audiovisual resources on all aspects of cancer, including disease and treatment information, coping and support resources, aids for discussing cancer with children, and information for survivors. Visitors may check out materials or use the center’s computers to search for information online. Upon request, PERC staff members conduct professional searches on specific topics.


  • In 2006 and again in 2008, the presidents of the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and Wayne State University hosted their counterparts from China’s top universities at the Michigan-China University Leadership Forum to explore ways to work together to advance trade, innovation, and economic growth. In both nations, research universities are major economic engines and creators of jobs. More than 25 members of the Chinese delegation, including university presidents, university council chairs, and officials from the Ministry of Education and National Academy of Education Administration visited all three Michigan research universities. Forum participants discussed numerous topics, including how to better contribute to their regions and communities, partnerships, research, strategic planning and governance, educating students, and developing and evaluating faculty. The forum strengthened Michigan’s ties with a new generation of higher education leadership in the world’s largest market and provided the means for the URC to give its faculty members and students greater access to China’s academic and business communities. Another leadership forum is being planned for May 2010.
  • In 1993, the University of Michigan Health System (UMHS) created the Program for Multicultural Health to give underserved multicultural populations greater access to quality health care. Providing quality clinical care to culturally diverse groups is a vital part of the health system’s vision as a leading health care facility. The Program for Multicultural Health was created because of a growing awareness of the increasing diversity of UMHS patients and staff. The program has been recognized by local residents and nationally acclaimed health professionals for its innovative, theory-driven, and practical approaches to improving the health and health status of underserved ethnic and racial groups.