The University of Michigan-Flint is a special community with growing momentum and shared values, Chancellor Susan E. Borrego said in her State of the University Address Wednesday.
"We share a love of learning, a belief that education is transformational, and a commitment to creating an excellent learning environment," Borrego said. "Each of us here today is engaged in this work every day."
Borrego said the campus community, with each member using their own talents and ideas, continues to contribute.
"Certainly, our campus community is working to match our academic and research strengths with public need to create much needed public impact," Borrego said.
The university has taken critical steps related to public health and healthcare, Borrego said, including the establishment of the new School of Nursing.
"We are excited about the potential for new opportunities for students, and collaborations among schools as well as within the community that will come from this important move," Borrego said.
UM-Flint further devoted itself to public health with the Healthy Flint Research Coordinating Center, a new initiative with UM-Ann Arbor, Michigan State University, and several community groups.
"We anticipate working together to identify the most pressing needs, effectively coordinating activities, and sharing information as we work toward the best possible health outcomes for the community."
Borrego lauded several other accomplishments from across campus, such as the efforts and achievements around entrepreneurship.
"We know that entrepreneurship and economic development go hand-in-hand, and I'm especially excited about all the entrepreneurial activities our School of Management is spearheading," she said. "In addition to the recent establishment of the Hagerman endowed professor of entrepreneurship and innovation, in December the School of Management received a gift and matching support totaling $750,000 to support endowed student scholarships in entrepreneurship."
She pointed to the Cummings Great Expectations Early Childhood Center, an expansion of the university's early childhood education initiatives, as another example of university outreach and community collaboration.
"This fall we opened the expansion in the former Cummings Elementary School and enrolled 200 children, with support from the Flint Community Schools, the Genesee Intermediate School District, the State of Michigan and many charitable organizations. This is a good example of UM-Flint catalyzing a coordinated effort, and of UM-Flint standing alongside community partners as the project moves forward."
The growth at UM-Flint can also be measured in concrete, physical space. This includes the Riverfront Building, given by Uptown Reinvestment Corporation, with support of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, and the First Merit Bank North Tower purchased by the university.
"We now have the opportunity to house more students, expand academic space, and enhance our role as an anchor institution in the city of Flint," Borrego said.
And the growth continues, as the university plans to start construction on a third wing of the Murchie Science Building this year. This $39 million project received help from the State of Michigan, and a portion of a $11 million grant from the Mott Foundation.
Borrego said the university has its challenges but has many opportunities, especially during the campus-wide strategic planning process. She thanked the deans, provost, faculty, donors, and overall campus community for their talents, commitment and contributions.
The university's resources are especially important today, Borrego said.
"I have been reflecting on what it means to foster a sense of community during a time of deep division, as we're experiencing now in our country, and I keep coming back to finding common ground and celebrating shared intentions. We, each of us, have the opportunity to 'make community' every day. There are no neutral actions. We are the community we make. Here on the Flint campus, we share important common ground. We have a fierce commitment to our students, to learning, to discovery, to our community," Borrego said.
"And I know that the University of Michigan-Flint matters greatly to our students, our neighbors, and our state, and through our example to higher education more broadly. We're at the right place, at the right time, to be ever-more transformative for all we serve."
UM-Flint Student Government president Menusha Arumugam said she appreciated the emphasis on the university commitment to the community.
"It's great that our campus is focusing on making a big impact in the community, because our students are learning a lot from it. It is community engagement and it relates back to their majors as well," she said.
School of Nursing Interim Dean Marge Andrews called the Chancellor's speech "inspirational and aspirational."
"I think she captured the opportunities and challenges of the university at this time, at this point in history," Andrews said, adding she appreciated the Chancellor's emphasis on the interdisciplinary and professional efforts on campus.
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