Announcement of New Student Success Initiatives (August 11, 2020)

Dear Colleagues,

Today I am excited to announce the creation of our first four new initiatives that will have a direct impact on student affordability and access, retention and graduation rates and career placement. These programs have been many months in the making as the campus community worked to collectively ideate and offer many suggestions in the area of student success.

The campus strategic planning process has been one of inclusion, hard work and constructive debate regarding how to move our university forward. This process began over one year ago with faculty, staff and student engagement around five key areas, with student success being the number one priority. While there is no question that the COVID-19 pandemic altered the later stages of the planning process roll out, nevertheless a nearly 200-page report with inspiring ideas was developed and shared in January, well-attended and successful campus town hall meetings were held in February, and most recently a “Request for Ideas” charge was issued to the campus community.

In late June President Schlissel shared news of a substantial one-time investment in the UM-Dearborn and UM-Flint campuses. Fortunately, because of our strategic planning efforts we are well poised to “jump into action” implementing many student success initiatives proposed and vetted by the campus community. I am excited to share that the university has this month launched our first four such initiatives totaling $5 million.

The ideas outlined below build on our strategic planning efforts, are directed exclusively toward student success (recruitment, retention, graduation and placement) and have been closely reviewed and evaluated by university leadership.

Each initiative has a financial sustainability plan and both short-term and long-term performance metrics. The plans outlined below reflect our inclusive campus culture, our student demographics and our collective goal of making UM-Dearborn an appealing and accessible destination for deserving Michigan students.  

1.  Future Students: Destination Dearborn. We are currently realigning and supplementing our financial aid model to better enhance access and affordability for academically qualified prospective Michigan students with financial need, guaranteeing them need-based support throughout so that they can finish their studies in a timely fashion.  New models will be structured to remove financial barriers to earning a UM-Dearborn degree.

2.  Prior Students: The Dearborn Comeback.  We will invest in those students who were well on the path to graduation with us but were somehow derailed and unable to complete their studies.  Students who left with more than 90 credits and did not graduate will be supported in developing an academic and financial plan to earn their degree. This program will be designed to remove financial barriers that may have the impediment to graduation. See here for additional details on this exciting program.

3.  Current Students: One-Time Pandemic Financial Aid Response. We will invest additional financial aid resources, in direct response to pandemic-driven need, to help current students who may be at risk of not re-enrolling due to financial challenges. This will supplement CARES Act  support, which helps with COVID-19 related expenses.  Students are encouraged to review their options and request assistance if they are struggling financially to stay enrolled.

4.  Future and Current Students: Dearborn Student Success and Experience, Helping Students Finish On Time. This initiative will focus on specific student barriers related to the ability to navigate the complexities of university life on our campus, as identified by students during the strategic planning process. High-contact touch points will be connected using an integrated student success platform. A guided path for success via academic and career advising placement will be created for each student and tracked to ensure that appropriate and accurate information is coordinated campus-wide to provide students with an integrated and seamless experience. This will improve retention and graduation rates by increasing and integrating our counseling, tutoring and career services support for each student.

We have recently launched a university-wide diversity, equity and inclusion working group co-chaired by Chief of Staff Keisha Blevins, Dean Ann Lampkin-Williams, and Professor and Strategic Planning Co-Chair, Deborah Smith Pollard. Recommendations from this group, targeted to improving and enhancing campus culture and supporting and understanding specific impediments to student success, will be considered for funding in the near future.

Each of these initiatives will allow the university to provide timely and focused responses to pressing student needs. These initiatives also will allow access to an affordable Michigan degree for students who demonstrate both high academic potential and financial need, as well as investing and supporting their success while enrolled at UM-Dearborn. All initiatives will have a direct impact on recruitment, retention, graduation and placement.

While work remains to be done in each initiative, we are well on our way to realizing results. I will share additional details about these initiatives including an implementation timeline and performance metrics, at a Town Hall meeting to be scheduled this fall.

In the meantime, I urge you to suggest additional ideas through the “Request for Ideas” web submission form. This is an opportunity for our campus community to suggest innovative and creative new models for a Michigan education and/or diversity, equity and inclusion efforts to enrich our campus community. I have asked each dean to schedule a listening session for their college and the provost to host a campus-wide listening session before September 1 to augment the ideas in the strategic plan. I will also be offering the opportunity for personal meetings with individuals (or small groups) from the Dearborn community to share ideas and/or advice directly with me. You may register for a personal meeting here.

These exciting new programs will help Michigan students attend and graduate from UM-Dearborn. We would not be in this position without the terrific ideas, deep thinking and heartfelt inspiration shared by our faculty, staff and students and the confidence and financial investment in our campus demonstrated by President Schlissel. 

Go Blue – Go Dearborn! 

Domenico Grasso

Office of the Chancellor

1070 - Administration Building
4901 Evergreen Road
Dearborn, MI 48128
View on Map
Phone: 313-593-5500
Fax: 313-593-5204