March 30, 2006
The Dearborn campus is a full partner in the Detroit Center, a facility opened last year by the University of Michigan in the heart of the city, on Woodward Avenue between the cultural center and downtown. Several UM-Dearborn programs have benefited from the convenient location and high visibility of the Detroit Center, and I am writing to encourage you to consider projects that could make use of the space. Located on the ground floor of Orchestra Hall, the large facility includes offices and space for classes, meetings, exhibitions, lectures and collaborative work, while serving as a home base for students and faculty working on projects in Detroit.
One of the most visible UM-Dearborn projects in the Detroit Center since it opened is the art exhibition currently filling the high-profile windows looking out on Woodward Avenue. Coordinated by students in an art history class taught by Prof. Melanie Grunow Sobocinski, the exhibition, titled "Detroit and Rome: Building on the Past," details how historic buildings in both cities have survived difficult urban transitions. The display features archival and recent photographs of buildings in Detroit and Rome that have been adapted to new functions, as well as reproductions of historic images and drawings, and more recent photographs, drawings and watercolors. Thanks to Prof. Sobocinskiís efforts, the display went up in time for the Super Bowl and all the visitors it brought to downtown. It is the first exhibition to be mounted in the Detroit Center since the facility opened and Sobocinski has told me that pedestrians had gathered to look over the display boards before they could all be placed up in the windows.
Another UM-Dearborn project has taken advantage of the Detroit Centerís convenient location and excellent teaching facilities. Prof. Judith Flowers and colleagues who are working to improve the ways math is taught in middle schools have used the Detroit Center for classes for Detroit middle school and elementary teachers. They used to offer their classes in different Detroit schools, which often lacked the resources needed to offer a quality program. The Detroit Centerís location, and its modern amenities, make it much more appealing for Detroit teachers. Flowers says that based on her experience, and that of her colleagues, she would highly recommend the Center to colleagues who are working with Detroit groups and organizations.
Both Flowers and Sobocinski have noted the excellent collaboration they have enjoyed with Roger Doster, director of the Center and our contact for future use. Members of the Dearborn campus community who would like to learn more about the Detroit Center, including room capacities, parking, scheduling arrangements and other questions, should contact Doster at 313-593-3584 or Rdoster@umich.edu.
When the Detroit Center was opened last year, President Mary Sue Coleman said: "The University of Michigan was founded in Detroit in 1817, and we have remained committed and connected to this city. Providing a home for our many Detroit projects in the heart of the city's cultural center makes us far more visible and accessible and enables us to be a part of its revitalization. We look forward to the way this center will strengthen the partnership between UM and Detroiters."
Broadening and improving the ways UM-Dearborn uses the Detroit Center will help the entire University fulfill this great mission, but in particular, it will help us realize our own distinctive mission of providing the excellence of the University of Michigan in service to metropolitan Detroit.
Letís work together in the months ahead to identify new and creative ways to make use of this great resource. Iím interested in hearing your ideas.