Provost’s task force to study undergraduate education


University of Michigan Provost Martin Philbert has launched a new university task force to examine what it means to receive an undergraduate education at U-M, today and in the future.

The “Task Force on a Michigan Undergraduate Education in The Third Century” will work until June to explore the terrain of undergraduate education, culminating in a preliminary report to the provost focused in part on next steps.

“For the last 200 years, the University of Michigan has prepared undergraduates to be leaders and public servants in society,” Philbert said. “As the university embarks on its third century amid a rapidly changing landscape in higher education, we must seek to understand how we deliver this vital service and how we might shape instruction and the undergraduate experience for the future.”

As the foundation of its work, the task force will analyze and address several questions, including:

• What is the university’s role in preparing an informed and educated citizenry?

• What makes a U-M undergraduate education distinctive.

• To what extent do university members share or want to share a set of core principles and goals for undergraduate education across U-M’s schools and colleges?

• How does a shared set of goals impact curriculum and teaching?

“I think as part of that mission we’re really interested in thinking about what we know about how people learn and the extent to which we want students to be thinking about how they learn,” said Anne Curzan, associate dean for the humanities, LSA, and a faculty co-chair of the task force.

“We also would like to think hard about what it means when you take the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion and put them at the center of undergraduate education at the University of Michigan.”

In an initial step to analyze undergraduate education, the task force will create a preliminary report to the provost addressing these questions and mapping out next steps, Curzan said.

Task force members will analyze peer institutions’ undergraduate education initiatives, and input will be solicited from internal and external stakeholders, including faculty, students and staff.

Along with Curzan, the group will be co-chaired by Mark Moldwin, associate chair in the Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering, College of Engineering.

Curzan is an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, professor of English language and literature, and linguistics, LSA; and professor of education, School of Education. Moldwin is an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, professor of climate and space sciences and engineering, and faculty director of the M-STEM Academy’s M-Engin Program, CoE.

Moldwin said some studies in the last several years indicated that when asked what from college impacted their lives the most, college alumni recount faculty mentors, making life-long friends and extracurricular activities.

“What’s interesting is, other than mentoring, there’s not much discussion of classroom or curriculum,” he said. “So how can we maximize what students are doing inside and outside of the classroom?”

Other faculty members on the task force include:

• Christi-Anne Castro, associate professor of ethnomusicology, School of Music, Theatre & Dance, and director of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, LSA.

• Robert Dittmar, professor of finance, Stephen M. Ross School of Business.

• Barry Fishman, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, professor of education, School of Education, and professor of information, School of Information.

• Melissa Gross, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, associate professor of movement science, School of Kinesiology, and associate professor of art and design, Penny W. Stamps School of Art and Design.

• Brenda Gunderson, lecturer IV in statistics, LSA.

• Rajesh Mangrulkar, Marguerite S. Roll Professor of Medical Education, associate dean for Medical Student Education, associate professor of internal medicine, and learning health sciences, Medical School.

• Colleen Seifert, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, professor of psychology, LSA, and faculty associate in the Research Center for Group Dynamics, Institute for Social Research.

• Hannah Smotrich, associate professor of art and design, Stamps School.

• Victor Strecher, professor of health behavior and health education, School of Public Health; professor of health behavior, Department of Family Medicine, Medical School; and associate director, U-M Cancer Center.

• Herbert Winful, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and professor of electrical engineering and computer science, CoE.

Julia Barron and Kevin Jiang of LSA and CoE, respectively, will serve as student representatives on the task force. James Hilton, vice provost for academic innovation, and James Holloway, vice provost for global engagement and interdisciplinary academic affairs, will be ex-officio members.



  1. Henry Greenspan
    on February 5, 2018 at 3:34 am

    Extraordinary that there is not a single Lecturer on the committee nor a faculty member from the Residential College nor any other learning communitiy where innovation in UM undergrad education mainly happens. RC students certainly remember their courses, in not rare instances as sites of profound transformation that shaped the rest of their lives.

    • University Record
      on February 5, 2018 at 1:39 pm

      A lecturer IV in statistics is listed as a member of the task force.

      • Henry Greenspan
        on February 5, 2018 at 2:30 pm

        Stand corrected on that. And she is, indeed, terrific. Thank you.

  2. Kenneth Ludwig
    on February 5, 2018 at 6:44 pm

    One of my Innovation ALA classes is creating the university of the future. They will be in touch

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