Festival to highlight U-M’s connections and commitment to Detroit


The University of Michigan’s upcoming Detroit Festival will honor the university’s historical roots in Detroit as well as showcase its continuing commitment to the Motor City.

The festival will take place Friday and consist of three events: an educational seminar focused on Detroit’s future, a formal ceremony commemorating the university’s founding and a bicentennial party.

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Beginning at 4 p.m. in Detroit’s Grand Circus Park, the U-M Bicentennial Detroit Ceremony will feature remarks from several speakers, including President Mark Schlissel, Board of Regents Chair Michael J. Behm, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and Frank Ettawageshik, executive director of the United Tribes of Michigan.

Three Native American tribes — the Ojibwe, Odawa and Bodewadimi — originally ceded land for U-M through the 1817 Treaty of Fort Meigs. The property was later sold and the funds provided a significant portion of U-M’s endowment when it moved to Ann Arbor in 1837.

U-M alumna and Emmy Award-winning journalist Carmen Harlan will emcee the ceremony, which is open to the public. The event also will include performances by School of Music, Theatre & Dance students, the U-M alumni band and Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit.

“We’re commemorating a moment that was 200 years ago and there just aren’t many institutions in this country that go back that far,” Bicentennial Executive Director Gary Krenz said. “We are hoping as well that the larger public comes away with a sense of the university’s historic commitment to Detroit, how it’s benefitted from Detroit and how it is renewing its commitment going forward.”

After the ceremony, members of the public will get to enjoy a free celebration until 7 p.m. in the park, featuring live entertainment, activities, food and information booths highlighting U-M’s efforts in Detroit.

Earlier in the day, beginning at 8:30 a.m., the Bicentennial Detroit Seminar at the Westin Book Cadillac Detroit hotel will consist of several panels focused on topics related to the future and success of Detroit.

Panelists include notable U-M alumni, such as Skillman Foundation President Tonya Allen, The Roxbury Group founder David Di Rita and Rock Ventures Principal Matthew P. Cullen. U-M students also will highlight their projects in Detroit during the seminar’s poster session.

Although the seminar is free and open to the public, guests must register online at myumi.ch/JD8ZB to attend. Space is limited.

“Detroit is the biggest city in the state and its success is critical to everybody, not just people who live and work in Detroit,” Bicentennial Communications Director Kim Clarke said. “We all want to see Detroit continue to succeed.”


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