Initiatives for Regional Progress through Collaboration
February 7, 2007
One of the most promising and exciting developments in southeastern Michigan in recent months has been the emergence of a wide-ranging collaboration among six leading civic organizations to foster true regional action on some of the most pressing issues facing our communities.
“One D” is the name that has been given to the coalition of the Detroit Regional Chamber, Detroit Renaissance, New Detroit, the United Way for Southeastern Michigan, the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Cultural Alliance of Southeastern Michigan. In short, the goal of the coalition is to work “collaboratively to transform Metro Detroit into one of the world’s great regions.” The website for this collaboration can be found at:
At the University of Michigan-Dearborn, we are strongly connected to this initiative and committed to helping to achieve the bold aims of the coalition. Our region needs the kind of leadership that UM-Dearborn can provide, informed by the “metropolitan vision” that we have adopted for our future. And UM-Dearborn’s future clearly depends on supporting efforts to enhance the civic, social, cultural and economic health of our region.
One of the partners in the coalition is Detroit Renaissance, which recently launched its plan for a “Road to Renaissance” for the region. This plan relies on the best information and resources we have available throughout the region to develop specific action plans to tackle the top problems we all agree are holding us back. That’s certainly a big job, and we are making a very ambitious start to have action plans ready by the beginning of June. This effort has been facilitated through a year-long process of consultation and planning, and it has now moved to the implementation stage through the establishment of six working implementation teams. Another important partner in the One D coalition is New Detroit, whose “Forum on Race” in October provided some important new ideas about how to address these issues in the metropolitan region. Significantly, UM-Dearborn has been an active partner with New Detroit in a number of initiatives, including the successful “Conversation on Race” that the campus has sponsored for the past several years.
UM-Dearborn is a member of the Road to Renaissance steering committee, and I am serving as co-chair of the “talent” task force of the “Road to Renaissance” project. This team is charged with proposing very specific actions to develop the human capital of southeastern Michigan, particularly in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Our task force has been working aggressively to identify ways to figure out how we can increase the number of people who go to college, to increase the number of students who earn college degrees, and to increase the number of graduates who remain in this region. This challenge is obviously very closely linked to the metropolitan mission of UM-Dearborn, and it is clear that achieving our institutional goals can have genuine impact in this region for generations ahead.
I know that there is a strong commitment among members of the UM-Dearborn community to various efforts of the One D organizations and to their collective work across this region. Our campus’s successful United Way drive last fall was just one sign of that commitment. During that campaign, Michael Brennan, CEO of the United Way for Southeastern Michigan, outlined the One D initiative for more than 50 of our faculty and staff members at a meeting of the Leadership Roundtable, before it was announced to the public, and I know that many of our campus leaders were energized and motivated by Brennan’s presentation.
The One D effort has gained real traction among regional leaders, and there clearly is a very good correspondence between its goals and the vision that we have committed ourselves to at UM-Dearborn. Through my work on the talent task force I have become even more strongly convinced of the power of the idea that we can apply some of the brainpower and expertise of our campus to address the needs of this region. By working together we can make a real difference here, both for UM-Dearborn and for the metropolitan communities we serve.