The U-M Congressional Breakfast in Washington, D.C., returned to an in-person format March 9 after being conducted virtually last year for the first time in its seven-decade history.
“From the time that I first arrived at the university in 2002, I’ve been moved by the dedication and passion that students and alumni hold for this place,” President Mary Sue Coleman told the audience via recorded remarks.
“As I progressed through my years at Michigan, I began to understand the long continuum of events, challenges and triumphs that bind everyone to the University of Michigan. It is a profound connection.
“It’s a connection that begins in the hopes and dreams of schoolchildren in Michigan, and beyond. It extends from our Diag, through our great schools and colleges, and all the way around the world.”
She went on to highlight the difference that U-M makes in the world each day.
“It is alive and ever apparent when we see faculty testifying on the (Capitol) Hill to reduce poverty, providing expertise to preserve our Great Lakes, or using art and arts programs to confront racism. Our collective commitment to learning and discovery holds true for yesterday, and it will guide us toward tomorrow,” Coleman said.
The breakfast also featured remarks by Rebecca Cunningham, vice president for research and the William G. Barsan Collegiate Professor of Emergency Medicine, who stressed the importance of federal investments in U-M’s research enterprise, which she noted remains strong despite challenges caused by the pandemic.
“With $1.58 billion in research volume last year alone, teams across U-M’s three campuses were able to address emerging problems, spur new technologies and drive the economy,” she said.
Cunningham noted the many ways U-M research is translated from the lab to the marketplace to positively benefit society. Since 2002, U-M research has directly contributed $5.9 billion to the national economy. Of that, $1.8 billion specifically supported Michigan-based companies.
Last year alone, the U-M research enterprise contributed $97 million to Michigan’s economy, supporting employment across large and small businesses statewide. U-M research not only provides new knowledge, but it also serves as an economic driver for our region and country.
Keynote speaker Rep. Peter Meijer, R-Grand Rapids, highlighted the importance of U-M’s research leadership during the pandemic, citing the impact of the academic community working with all levels of government during a challenging time.
He shared his own experience working with student veterans, and his appreciation for U-M’s role in building the Student Veterans of America into a national organization for student veterans across the country.
Meijer also reflected on the legacy of President Gerald Ford, tracing his example of leadership from U-M, from which Ford graduated in 1935, to the West Michigan congressional district that Ford represented and Meijer now serves.
More than 200 alumni, friends and congressional staff attended the event, including 13 members of Congress.
Besides Meijer, members of Michigan’s congressional delegation included Reps. Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn; John Moolenaar, R-Midland; Dan Kildee, D-Flint; Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph; Andy Levin, D-Bloomfield Township; Brenda Lawrence, D-Southfield; Haley Stevens, D-Rochester Hills; Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit; Elissa Slotkin, D-Holly; and Lisa McClain, R-Port Huron. Others attending were Reps. Grace Meng, D-New York, and Ted Deutch, D-Florida.
The annual breakfast is sponsored by the U-M Club of Greater Washington. Proceeds from the breakfast help provide scholarship support to D.C.-area students who want to attend U-M.