Keeping with the University of Michigan’s commitment to integrate and strengthen engagement efforts in the city of Detroit, the university recently established the Detroit Advisory Group and named a new special adviser on Detroit engagement.
The new position and advisory group — consisting of faculty and staff from all three U-M campuses — are charged with supporting the university’s mission of research, education and service in partnership with Detroit communities.
“The university is creating structures to be more organized and intentional in our engagement in Detroit,” said James Holloway, vice provost for global engagement and interdisciplinary academic affairs who also chairs the group. “We are formally bringing together faculty and staff who are highly engaged in Detroit who will strengthen and deepen our networks of knowledge across the institution.”
The Detroit Advisory Group will advise university leaders on Detroit-related matters, emphasizing strategic direction, engagement, programming and infrastructure.
This includes providing strategic guidance for the Detroit Center — a gateway for university and urban communities to mutually enrich each other through service, education, research and cultural exchange — and the Rackham Detroit building located at 100 Farnsworth St., near Woodward Avenue, in Detroit’s Cultural Center.
It also will facilitate outreach and focus events to seek input from U-M partners and other stakeholders in Detroit and advise on specific events, workshops and other work to build coordination and coherence in U-M Detroit engagement, including the annual research and teaching conference um3detroit.
Nicholas Tobier, professor of art and design in the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design, and a member of the Detroit Advisory Board, said the creation of the group also will enhance internal and external transparency, foster collaboration and promote best practices.
“This is an opportunity for us to think structurally about our collective impact,” said Tobier. “Not only will we help one another to have the most positive impact on the city and the university, but this also serves as an opportunity to be more mindful of the communities, neighborhoods, partners and interests that we interact with.”
Other Detroit Advisory Group members are:
• Francine Banner, associate professor of sociology, College of Arts, Sciences, & Letters, UM-Dearborn.
• Mary Jo Callan, director, Edward Ginsberg Center for Community Service and Learning.
• Jerry Davis, associate dean for business + impact, Stephen M. Ross School of Business.
• Denise Galarza Sepúlveda, director of the Office of Community-Engaged Academic Learning, LSA.
• Ben Gaydos, associate professor of graphic design, College of Arts & Sciences, UM-Flint.
• Elizabeth Gerber, associate dean for research and policy engagement, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.
• Sally Howell, associate professor of history, College of Arts, Sciences & Letters, UM-Dearborn.
• Barbara Israel, professor of health behavior and health education, School of Public Health and Detroit Urban Research Center.
• Carrie Luke, project manager, Office of the Provost.
• Jerome Lynch, chair and professor of civil and environmental engineering, and professor of electrical engineering and computer science, College of Engineering.
• Michael Rein, director of community relations, Government Relations.
• H. Luke Shaefer, associate professor of social work and director of Poverty Solutions, School of Social Work; associate professor of public policy, Ford School.
• Trina Shanks, associate professor of social work, School of Social Work.
• Feodies Shipp, director, U-M Detroit Center.
• Anya Sirota, associate professor of architecture, A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture & Urban Planning.
• Stephen Ward, director, Semester in Detroit; associate professor of Afroamerican and African Studies, and of the Residential College, LSA.
• Camille Wilson, professor of education, School of Education.
Building on a pre-existing community engagement framework, members of the Detroit Advisory Committee are committed to fostering partnerships within the city that are ethical, sustainable and create mutual benefits.
The group agreed to adhere to: a principle of recognition for the expertise and knowledge within the community, a principle of respect for individuals, communities and to their resources, and a principle of equitable partnership focused on reciprocal relationships, transparency and accountability.
Adding to the university’s mechanisms that encourage more collaboration and even greater impact in Detroit, the Office of the Provost recently announced Sonia Harb as a new special adviser on Detroit engagement.
Harb will act as a leader and liaison among nonprofits, businesses, students, faculty and staff, fostering connection and understanding between U-M and the community for Detroit-focused projects, programs, and initiatives in the Office of the Provost.
“I see myself as an ambassador, building relationships with communities across the city and interconnecting Detroit-based work across the university,” Harb said. “I want Detroit to benefit from all the University has to offer, and I want the University to learn from the strengths and resiliency of Detroiters.”
Harb also is the Detroit engagement strategist for the School of Social Work and has been working to empower Detroit neighborhoods and other stakeholder groups on behalf of the school for the last six years.
To eliminate a potential barrier for engagement in Detroit, the U-M Transportation Research Institute launched a new study that will provide insights and understanding of patrons’ attitudes, perceptions and assessment of the Detroit Connector shuttle service.
According to the Office of the Provost the service remains underutilized for most of its trips and the reasons are not completely understood.
The study is being led by Robert Hampshire, research assistant professor, and Aditi Misra, assistant research scientist.
This is a wonderful initiative. In terms of the Detroit Connector the service would be much more utilized if the bus were completely free to the UMich community and if the bus service were more frequent during the day.