Student success and strategic planning, July 30, 2019

Dear Colleagues, 

Deborah Smith Pollard and I have been meeting with working group chairs and members over the past several weeks.  Based on our meetings and the most recent strategic planning initiative message dated July 22, we would like to share some additional thoughts and perspectives. Building on our tradition of achievement, I am heartened and encouraged by the enthusiasm and dedication being invested in planning for our future.

As I have stated at every possible opportunity and venue, our highest and most crucial priority is the education and success of our students. There are many factors that influence our students’ success: the quality and success of faculty and staff, curriculum, organizational structures and policies, resources, community engagement, institutional perception, among many others. In order to address the myriad of topics and for the sake of efficiency and workload distribution, we have organized our planning process around five separate working groups.  However, as important as each working group's topics are, they all roll up to our ultimate goal: students’ success.

By way of example, we have one group working on ensuring that our faculty are as successful as they can be as teachers and scholars.  One may ask how increasing our research capacity is related to our ultimate goal of student success.  

We would like to offer the following thought exercise.  If our faculty members are active scholars, not only will they have productive careers, be at the cutting edge of their fields, create new knowledge in the fields in which they teach and bring the state of the art enthusiasm into the classroom, they will also provide increased opportunities for our students to do funded research in their labs and programs creating academic experiences and “jobs” for more students, who can now work in their academic fields rather than otherwise in unrelated jobs.  Based on recent studies, this will be certain to increase graduation rates, better relationships with faculty and staff, and enhance student credentials as they search for positions.  Moreover, our faculty members will be better connected to the top scholars/practitioners in their fields (or they, themselves, may be among the top in the fields), all eventually redowning to the benefit of our students through valuable connections.

Similarly, creating new budget models, curricula and delivery systems, organizational structures, among other innovations could generate resources that could support programs to better enhance student success.

We look forward to working together with you all on these important initiatives to help us be the best UM-Dearborn that we can be.

Go Blue.  Go Dearborn!  

Domenico Grasso  
Chancellor - Co-chair, Strategic Planning Initiative 

Deborah Smith Pollard 
Professor - Co-chair, Strategic Planning Initiative