Engagement and Service



Core Component 5d: Internal and external constituencies value the services the organization provides.

The programs and initiatives described in this section are managed by several units across campus that handle their own assessments. The section of the report below focuses on information collected by four central units described above--the Office of the Provost, the Ginsberg Center, the Office of Technology Transfer, and the Business Engagement Center. The “value” of the activities undertaken by these units is represented in some cases by qualitative data and in the others by quantitative data.


  • Results of the University’s 2008 Graduating Senior Survey show that among the 1,673 respondents, more than 80% had significant service experiences to report. In the open comments section of the survey, more than 120 respondents commented about their community service experiences. In describing their experiences, students used such terms as those that follow: gaining new perspectives, feeling exhilarated and rewarded, personal satisfaction; profound effect on my world view, learning about social justice and how to pursue it, finding similarly dedicated people, and setting the tone for the undergraduate experience.
  • The responses from the 2009 Survey of Alumni cohorts demonstrate the University’s long-term commitment to engagement and service. The results from alumni as far as 10 years after graduation are very similar to the results of the 2008 graduating senior survey, as mentioned in a previous section.
  • In February 2008, the Ginsberg Center invited two cohorts of alumni to complete a survey about Project Community, one of the center’s programs. The cohorts consisted of alumni who had begun their undergraduate careers in fall 1998 and fall 2002 and who had participated in this program at some point as undergraduates. Of slightly more than 1,300 such alumni, 234 responded – a response rate of 18%. When asked “How much of an impact has your participation in Project Community had on your life since college?” almost 36% of respondents answered “quite a bit” or “a lot,” and another 53.3% said “some.” When asked how they would evaluate those impacts, over 76% said “very positive,” and 23% said “somewhat positive.” A follow-up question asked for one or two examples of such positive or negative impacts. The comments below illustrate the main types of effect identified by those who felt the course had a positive or very positive impact:
    • “Project Community provided me with an opportunity to apply what I was reading about in the classroom to a hands-on experience.”
    • “I became a Soc major because of Project Community. I pursued social justice jobs in my time off from school. I developed better leadership skills. Many, many pluses.”
    • “I broadened my awareness of others’ issues and became much less focused on my own troubles…”
    • “It was an incredible way to see firsthand the impact of the diaspora in public education. To this day improving the condition of public education is something I am deeply concerned with.”
    • “Without Project Community and the mentoring [I received], I don’t think I would ever have pursued a Master’s degree in education or been so involved in service learning based education.”
    • "Since college, the lessons I learned in Project Community courses have informed my ability to think outside the box and continually question my own assumptions.”
  • Drawing from the results of a survey of students who participated in the Michigan AmeriCorps Partnership in 2007-08, 23 of the 24 respondents indicated that they were satisfied or very satisfied with their experience in the AmeriCorps program. In a separate survey, 18 out of 19 of the community partner organizations that were served by our student member indicated they were satisfied or very satisfied with the service provided by Ameri- Corps member(s), and that they believed this service increased their organization’s capacity to meet its mission.


Semester in Detroit

sidSemester in Detroit (SID) became an official University academic program in summer 2008; undergraduate students moved into a residence hall on Wayne State University’s campus in January 2009. The results below are from surveys and reviews of both students and community partners that were conducted at the end of this pilot year.

  • Over 85% of community partners surveyed reported a “balanced benefit between their organization and the student”; 71% of SID students felt the same way. These results suggest reciprocity – an important aspect of quality service-learning experiences.
  • In rating the SID program overall, 9.2 out of 10 was the average rating from community partners; over 70% of them gave their student interns a rating of 9 or 10 for their performance. Almost two-thirds (64%) of the community partners deemed SID better than programs at other universities.
  • In rating the SID program overall, students gave it an average of 9.1 out of 10; 100% said they would recommend the program to a friend.

The community partners were asked to describe in one paragraph (or less) the essence of what the University student intern contributed (to the organization, community, etc.) during the internship. A few of the community partners’ comments are provided below.

  • “Our student intern was very helpful in providing support services as the department was going through transition (merger and staff reduction all at one time)...”
  • “Having an intern within our organizations helped a great deal. When I received the intern my program was going through changes and the extra manpower was a great benefit. The fact that we worked with students and the knowledge she passed on reinforced our program’s mission.”
  • “The intern provided a different intern perspective to the mix of social work interns that were already placed at the organization. Her fresh vantage point and opinion contributed to the overall mix very well.”

America Reads

Through the service-oriented America Reads initiative, students learn to be mindful, effective tutors by learning how student achievement in the U.S. education system interfaces with issues of class, race, language acquisition, and other systems. Each year more than 300 children in area schools receive reading assistance from tutors through America Reads. Below are highlights of the evaluations that students and teachers completed at the end of the 2008-09 academic year.

  • Value to the Community. The table below captures the responses of 54 teachers to a program evaluation at the end of the 2008-09 academic year. In response to the question, “In what ways have America Reads tutors contributed to your students’ learning and/or classroom performance?” teachers made the observations captured below.
Literacy skills 69%
Overall 22%
Confidence 18%
Class participation 11%
Attitude/behavior 9%
  • Value to Students Who Receive Tutoring. In addition, 106 students completed a program evaluation at the end of the 2008-09 academic year. Students were asked to rate their overall experience in America Reads on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being poor and 5 being excellent. The average score was 4.3, with 89% of students rating their experience in the program as very good or excellent, and 11% rating their experience as average.
  • Value to University of Michigan Students. The University students who served as tutors were also asked to describe how their involvement in the America Reads program enhanced their college experience, if at all. In response, they offered the comments captured below.
Learned about social issues 22
Helped individuals/communities 21
Provided purpose/something to look forward to 14
Learned about the process of teaching and learning 12
A defining college experience overall 11
Made a difference in the world 9
Developed gratitude 7
Worked toward a cause 6
Improved study habits 2
Developed leadership skills 2

Technology Transfer

Tangible measures of success in technology transfer include invention disclosures, license agreements, new business start-ups, and revenues. But intangible measures of achievement are equally important. For example, the quantity and quality of our engagement with researchers, students, and business and entrepreneurial partners, and the impact on the public of our transferred technologies are important indicators of success. The Office of Technology Transfer’s website provide a set of “success stories” including recent success stories and an archive of success stories that offer a glimpse into some of the ways in which the users of the office’s services value the services they receive. Below are a few select comments drawn from these stories, which we offer as expressions of how representatives of these companies appreciated the Office of Technology Transfer’s help.

  • Vortex Induced Vibrations Aquatic Clean Energy (VIVACE). A University Professor filed a patent relating to a device capable of harnessing the VIV energy generated by ocean and river currents. Tests in the University’s Marine Hydrodynamics Lab proved that VIVACE was remarkably efficient at generating usable energy; more efficient than ocean-energy converters currently being used around the world. This “success story” notes, “Tech Transfer has been immensely helpful at every stage: filing the provisional patent, finding test sites, locating funding sources, and starting and staffing the company.”
  • Metal Organic Frameworks. A Professor of Chemistry has been producing structures from molecular building blocks by stitching together highly porous molecules of organic and inorganic materials to create containers on a nanometer scale. The resulting new materials are known as metal organic frameworks, or MOFs. As stated in the story, “With the assistance of Tech Transfer, …. have patented designs and production protocols for hundreds of materials.”
  • HandyLab. Over a period of seven years, chemical engineering students and their faculty advisors in the field of chemical engineering and human genetics have developed portable nano-devices that function as acidand protein-based analysis systems. In 1998 these devices earned a place on Science Magazine’s list of Top Inventions of the Year. Then in June 2000, HandyLab was launched. “We’re very pleased with the business relationship we’ve had with the University of Michigan,” HandyLab President and CEO notes, adding that “Tech Transfer was absolutely crucial to the start of the company. Without their contributions, particularly in the areas of patent protection and business planning, there wouldn’t be a HandyLab today.”

Business Engagement Center

As described earlier in the section, the University’s Business Engagement Center (BEC) was established in May 2008. A good example of the center’s success thus far can be seen in a YouTube video about Aernnova Engineering U.S., an international company that chose Ann Arbor for its U.S. headquarters after receiving support from the BEC.