U-M hires inaugural director of Detroit innovation center


Scott Shireman, an experienced higher education administrator with deep expertise in global and online education, will become the inaugural director of the University of Michigan Center for Innovation in Detroit.

His appointment to a five-year term, effective Jan. 1, 2024, was announced by Provost Laurie K. McCauley and will be reported to the Board of Regents at its Dec. 7 meeting.

Scott Shireman
Scott Shireman

The provost said Shireman’s administrative and leadership experience demonstrate his ability to excel as the inaugural UMCI director.

“He will not only be an effective leader for the center itself, but his deep roots in higher education will allow him to collaborate across the institution and with Detroit-based partners to bring the center to life,” McCauley said.

The Board of Regents approved construction of the $250 million center in downtown Detroit at its Oct. 19 meeting. Construction is expected to take three years.

The center will be funded by a $100 million gift from donor Stephen M. Ross, $100 million from the state of Michigan, a land donation of 2.08 acres at the intersection of Grand River Avenue and West Columbia Street from Olympia Development of Michigan, and an additional $50 million will be raised from donors. The university will break ground on the project by the end of the year.

Shireman comes to U-M from the online higher education company Coursera, where he is the global head of Coursera for Campus. He often represents Coursera around the globe, presenting regularly on topics such as the future of higher education and better alignment between academic programs and industry needs.

“It’s an incredible honor to be selected to lead the U-M Center for Innovation in Detroit and I am eager to start making important connections with Detroiters and the many community organizations that are so important to this effort,” Shireman said.

He has worked in numerous increasingly responsible leadership positions at the University of California, Berkeley — as associate dean and chief operating officer of UC Berkeley Extension — and at Northwestern University — as director of IT infrastructure and operations at the Kellogg School of Management.

Shireman, a first-generation college student, earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Chinese religion from Northwestern University. He earned a Master of Business Administration degree, also from Northwestern, with majors in finance, economics, analytics and decision sciences.

UMCI is designed to be a world-class research, education and entrepreneurship center to advance innovation and talent-focused community development to propel city, regional and statewide job creation and inclusive economic growth by stimulating economic development in Detroit.

It will add to the university’s presence in Detroit, which includes the P-20 Partnership at the School at Marygrove, the Horace H. Rackham Educational Memorial building, which has been approved for renovation, and the U-M Detroit Center, which opened in 2005. Additionally, there are hundreds of projects U-M works on with community partners throughout the city.


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