Experience the best of summer at UM-Dearborn

June 12, 2023

Here are five ways to enjoy the sunshine and have some summertime fun while on campus.

Photo of people enjoying a picnic at UM-Dearborn

View the summer’s night sky through a telescope. Walk the Henry and Clara Ford estate grounds. Spend time in the woods. You can do all that and more at UM-Dearborn this summer.

Here are five fun — and free — activities you can enjoy to make the most of what summer offers.


Have an al fresco gaming experience.

People playing games at UM-Dearborn's campus

It’s summer. Shut that laptop and challenge your friends — or maybe invite a few people you’d like to get to know a bit better — to a game of giant Jenga. If Jenga is not your thing, there’s a UM-Dearborn branded bean bag toss, a giant Connect 4, ladder golf, Kan Jam disc golf and tons of board games like Apples to Apples, Settlers of Catan, Telestrations, Exploding Kittens and Ticket to Ride. There’s also Uno and playing cards. Office of Student Life Assistant Director Allison Kinsey said the Student Life office offers free game check out as a fun way to bring people together on campus.

Students can check out items at the Campus Involvement Hub. Summer hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. All you need is your student ID. Faculty and staff need to plan a few days ahead. That gives us something to look forward to, right? Campus employees can fill out the reservation form on Victor's Link. The games are also available for department or student organization events by filling out the form.

But wait…there’s more. If you want to grab lunch at McKinley Cafe or brown bag it, you can also check out UM-Dearborn lawn blankets and have a picnic party.


Soak in some sunshine while making a difference in your community.

Two people birdwatching

Have some weekend free time? If so, consider helping maintain the campus’ Environmental Study Area. Stewardship Saturdays will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. on the third Saturday of the month. You’ll help improve and sustain the ecological health of the habitats at UM-Dearborn’s Environmental Study Area — the animals and plants say thank you! — while also learning about plant identification.

Volunteer activities are often different each time and there’s always something new to see and learn. Examples of projects include collecting/spreading native seeds and invasive species removal. EIC Natural Areas Manager Rick Simek said he recognizes and appreciates that each volunteer brings their own set of interests and skills, so a staff member will always be available to assist and answer questions. A few tips for a successful Stewardship Saturday: No sandals, bring water and wear work gloves. Simek said equipment is provided by the EIC. Stewardship Saturdays go year round. So if summer heat isn’t your thing, there are opportunities to help during cooler seasons. Learn more about signing up for Stewardship Saturdays at their website or by contacting Simek at [email protected] or 313-583-6371.

Looking for a shorter outdoor adventure? Staff naturalists will take you on a free guided 45-minute walk through the outdoor Environmental Study Area on the first and third Wednesdays during the summer. The walks, which are open to all, will take place starting at 5 p.m. at the Environmental Interpretive Center on June 21, July 5, July 19, Aug. 2 and Aug. 16.


Walk the grounds of one of the world's most prominent entrepreneurs.

Henry and Clara Ford on their Estate

The land that UM-Dearborn sits on was once American industrialist Henry Ford’s expansive yard. The estate and land were donated to the University of Michigan in 1957 to create the Dearborn campus. Just steps away from UM-Dearborn’s academic buildings sits the 56-room mansion, outbuildings and grounds Henry Ford and wife Clara called home for 30-plus years.

The majority of the Ford estate’s historic buildings and lands they reside on were transferred in 2013 to a nonprofit led by Ford family members. Today, the Henry Ford Estate nonprofit keeps the grounds open for all to enjoy. The Fair Lane Gardens and Grounds are free to walk seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. On your walk, you’ll see grounds shaped by landscape architect Jens Jenson, a peony garden, a terraced River Walk and more. Here’s a map of the grounds’ features.

Note: There is an extensive historic renovation taking place at Henry and wife Clara’s main residence, which was built on the land in 1915 and is a National Historic Landmark. Other buildings you may see on your walk include a large garage, greenhouse, playhouse for granddaughter Josephine and a powerhouse that had its cornerstone laid by Ford’s friend inventor Thomas Edison. Want more information about the estate? Visit their website.


Relax by the pond while listening to a podcast.

Male sitting in chair over looking the Chancellor's Pond on a beautiful summer day

Grab a maize adirondack chair and enjoy the view of Chancellor’s pond, a few playing geese and some blooming flowers. While relaxing in the shade, consider streaming a podcast episode (or two) created by UM-Dearborn professors.

• Relaying Detroit’s unknown or seldom remembered history is the driving force behind The Detroit History Podcast. Always on the lookout for those “I didn’t know that'' moments about the Motor City, Communication Professor Tim Kiska’s Detroit History Podcast tells the city's history through its cultural, social, political, musical and automotive heritage. In the five seasons of the podcast, Kiska has covered Mark Twain’s ties to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, shared that the NHL’s first female president and owner was at the Detroit Red Wings’ helm during the 1950s Stanley Cup years, explored the origins of Detroit-style pizza and more. If you listen to all of the 50-plus available episodes, know that more are on the way. Kiska said season six will be out at the end of summer and gave a sneak peek: topics include the life of composer/rapper J Dilla and the creation of the Detroit Institute of Arts. 

• The Seen Jeem podcast  — Seen Jeem is Arabic for Q and A — highlights the work of contemporary Arab American writers. Produced by the Center for Arab American Studies, Seen Jeem features two seasons of conversations with poets, novelists, and essayists about their latest works. You can hear New York Times Book Review noted author Sahar Mustafah read passages from her award-winning book The Beauty of Your Face. You can learn how author and UM-Dearborn alum Reda Taleb based her children’s book Noura's Extraordinary Superpower — where 8-year-old Noura discovers that her missing father is in prison — on her own childhood experiences to help explain and unpack incarceration to youth of all ages. And you can hear author and journalist Omar El Akkad talk about his latest book, What Strange Paradise, which was named a best book of the year by the New York Times, the Washington Post and NPR.

If you are a UM-Dearborn faculty or staff member with a podcast you would like added to the list, please let us know at [email protected].


Look up at the stars.

Photo of the SLRC

Everyone can learn about our complex and beautiful universe. Just come to UM-Dearborn! Public viewing nights at UM-Dearborn’s observatory — happening all summer long — offer telescopes mounted on the fenced-in observation deck for a closer look at the night sky. And astronomy experts and enthusiasts will be on hand to guide participants. Public observation nights are from 10 p.m. to midnight on June 16, 23, July 14, 21, 28, from 9:30 to 11:30 p.m. Aug. 11, 18 and from 9 to 11 p.m. Aug. 25.

There are plenty of planets, stars and nebulae to see. So far this year, Astronomy Lecturer Carrie Swift said participants have observed Mercury and Venus, double stars like Mizar and Alcor, the Pinwheel galaxy, open star clusters and globular star clusters.

The observatory is located in the Science Research Learning Center. Park in the lot behind the SLRC (named parking lot A). When you enter the building, take the elevator to the third floor, turn left and the observation deck is just through the double doors. Signs will help guide the way. For more information, check out the observatory. Also: these nights only take place in favorable viewing conditions, so check the website before heading to campus.

Article by Sarah Tuxbury.