UM-Dearborn offers a series of “quick, convenient, action-oriented classes” for local elected officials

September 19, 2006

DEARBORN / Sept. 19, 2006---The University of Michigan Dearborn’s Institute for Local Government (IFLG) is offering a series of courses for school board members, city council members, and other local elected officials this fall to help them confront a broad range of issues they can expect to face as they carry out their public duties.

Course subjects vary from ethics and communications skills to financing water infrastructure and retiree health care. The Institute, which operates in conjunction with the Michigan Municipal League (MML) and the Michigan Association of School Boards (MASB), is recognized as a major resource by local officials throughout the region. Many of the courses count as credit towards the MML’s and MASB’s awards programs.

“Offering continuing training opportunities for local elected officials is a hallmark of UM-Dearborn’s long-term commitment to southeastern Michigan,” according to Edward Bagale, vice chancellor for government relations at UM-Dearborn. “Our collaboration with the Michigan Municipal League and Michigan Association of School Boards ensures that our programming meets the needs of southeastern Michigan’s local officials.”

“The quick, convenient, action-oriented classes are designed to help local officials meet the wide variety of challenges they face in the 21st century,” said IFLG director Dale Thomson, assistant professor of public administration at UM-Dearborn. “These classes are taught by experts in their field. They provide participants with valuable tools to address challenges and the opportunity to network with their colleagues from neighboring communities who face similar issues. The end result is more effective government throughout southeastern Michigan.”

Thomson said examples of the courses to be taught include:

  • Learning to create a total communications strategy for a local official or a governmental unit from two of the region's best political public relations experts, Bob Berg and Georgella Muirhead, in November.
  • Learning how to finance water and sewer infrastructure with Oakland County Drain Commissioner John McCullough, and Bart Foster, rate consultant for the City of Detroit Department of Water and Sewerage, experts in the field who will cover this and related issues in October.
  • Learning how to handle major changes in how your community projects and reports retiree health care benefits from Vicki Barnett, mayor of Farmington Hills and vice-chair of the Michigan Municipal League in November.
  • Learning proven techniques for dealing with diversity pro-actively from leading experts Shirley Bryant and Michael Williams, who will discuss how to establish a community that welcomes people of all races, ethnicities, and cultures.

Other courses will cover ethics, effective meetings, dealing with difficult people, public speaking, and conflict management.

“Research shows that high-performing governance teams have one thing in common: a commitment to professional training,” said Mary Kerwin, a consultant to the MASB. “They know that their understanding of roles and responsibilities impacts their effectiveness as elected officials.”

“The courses offered by this program enhance the opportunity for regional cooperation,” according to Detroit City Council Member Sheila Cockrel. “As a local elected official, I value the efficient manner in which high-quality information is shared in these courses, and I welcome the opportunity to network with other local leaders as we all struggle with greater demands and dwindling resources in our communities."

Officials can learn more about the IFLG’s fall program by going online to or by calling 313-593-5140.



CONTACT: Terry Gallagher
PHONE: 313-593-5518
The Office of University Relations
Room 1040, Administration Building
University of Michigan-Dearborn