The University of Michigan-Dearborn Narrative

The University of Michigan-Dearborn was originally founded as an experimental partnership with Ford Motor Company and, by design, intended to train engineering and business leaders needed by the auto-industry.  Although we continue to have a strong focus on engineering and business, we have evolved into a comprehensive regional university ranked as the fifth best regional public university in the Midwest, by U.S. News & World Report. Today, we continue to serve the needs of southeastern Michigan, with 94% of matriculated students from within the state and 80% of alumni currently living in the state.

The three campuses of the University of Michigan serve distinct populations and have different missions. With students from varied walks of life, the Dearborn campus reflects broad socioeconomic, racial, ethnic, religious, gender identification, sexual orientation and veteran-status diversity.  We are a welcoming and supportive community, of whom 43% are Pell eligible, 38% are first generation to attend college, and 44% have dependent care responsibilities. We proudly offer an accessible, affordable and transformational Michigan education to academically qualified, diverse, talented and motivated students. Our campus culture is grounded in, and defined by, values of inclusivity, mutual support and care.

I have spent the majority of my professional career at institutions that, by and large, served student populations that came from more privileged backgrounds.  Indeed, it was UM-Dearborn’s commitment to providing a high-quality Michigan education to deserving, non-traditional, and often differently-prepared students - an uncommon education for the common individual -  that inspired me to lead this outstanding institution and work to fully leverage its potential to best serve these students and the southeastern Michigan region. 

It is because of this strong commitment to serve our special student body that we value our independence as an institution. Not only does it engender a strong sense of institutional identity and pride, but it also provides important bureaucratic customization. For example, the policies and programs that drive daily life here — such as, admissions, workloads, promotion and tenure, equity and inclusion — are created by those who actually work and study here, and thus are tailored to our unique needs.

As a community of scholars, we are best positioned and wholeheartedly committed to developing strategic plans and initiatives for our remarkable population. For all the aforementioned reasons, as an independent degree-granting institution, we are equally committed to identifying, securing and deploying the resources that support our goals.

To be sure, we are fortunate to be part of the University of Michigan family and proud to brandish the “block M.” We benefit from the Michigan brand and leveraging our existing relationship across the three campuses, which thrives on a balance of autonomy and cooperation. The value of our relationship to the UM-Ann Arbor is impossible to overstate. Having privileged access to the expertise and experience of the country’s top public research university to help guide our transformative student educational experience and our institutional growth is invaluable. There are numerous ways the cooperation has made UM-Dearborn a stronger university and in the process has helped to reduce expenditures for a number of functions. A few examples include the sharing of administrative resources in departments like general counsel, real estate, public safety, human resources, research, IT and the support the Ann Arbor campus has provided in the development of UM-Dearborn’s growing list of respected Rackham doctoral programs.

The students, faculty, staff and nearly 60,000 alumni are proud to be part of the Dearborn branch of the University of Michigan family tree. We are equally proud to be masters of our own destiny, primarily responsible for our exciting future — both in setting goals and garnering the resources to realize them.

Proudly, Go Blue and Go Dearborn!

By: Domenico Grasso

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