Chancellor Ruth Person is reflecting upon her years of service as the seventh leader of the University of Michigan-Flint. She will end her term as chancellor on July 31, 2014, and return to the faculty in the School of Management in spring 2015.
Under Chancellor Person’s leadership, the campus has flourished in unprecedented ways. When she arrived in 2008, the doors opened to the very first residence hall on campus. With the addition of student housing on campus, plus other initiatives and academic developments, the campus has grown, becoming the fastest-growing public university in Michigan for the last decade. Strong enrollment increases have occurred in both undergraduate and graduate programs. International student enrollment has increased dramatically, with students from over 40 countries coming to UM-Flint to earn their degrees. Today, the campus is at a historically high enrollment of approximately 8,600 students.
“It has been a joy to watch the campus evolve and grow,” stated Chancellor Person. “Implementation of an inclusive, collaborative strategic plan, and faculty and staff who are dedicated to students and the university have been key to our shared success. Adding new academic programs, particularly at the graduate level, has also been a key strategy for success. I am especially proud of the fact that we have initiated our first PhD program as well as an EdD.”
With a firm commitment to preparing high school students for college, Chancellor Person has been an advocate for creating opportunities. In 2009, the Genesee Early College opened on campus. A few years later, Chancellor Person’s vision expanded with the launching of the Livingston County initiative that eventually became the highly successful Dual Enrollment Educational Partnership (DEEP) program. Now in nearly 10 school districts across southeastern Michigan, the DEEP program is becoming a model for college preparation. A second early college in Grand Blanc will open in the fall.
Chancellor Person shares a personal connection to veterans. Understanding the particular needs of students who have served in the military, Chancellor Person oversaw the opening and dedication of a new student veteran resource center in 2009. She has also become a leading voice in higher education on advocacy for student veterans on college campuses.
“I am very proud of UM-Flint’s commitment to serving student veterans, “said Chancellor Person. “I have spent a great deal of time talking with our veterans about how we can enhance their experience, and I am glad I have had the opportunity share their stories with lawmakers and the community.”
In 2010, the campus underwent the rigorous process of re-accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Other accreditations were earned in critical areas across the campus including the School of Education and Human Services, the Early Childhood Development Center, the Physical Therapy Department, and the School of Management.
That same year, the university earned other significant achievements, particularly in the area of civic engagement. UM-Flint received the prestigious Community Engagement Classification from the Carnegie Foundation. In addition, UM-Flint was also named the Engaged Campus of the Year by Michigan Campus Compact.
Chancellor Person was deeply involved in physical improvements to the campus, with the remodeling of French Hall, spaces in the University Center, the Northbank Center ballroom, and other important upgrades to public spaces. At the same time, the campus footprint expanded, with the move of the School of Management to the Riverfront Center.
“The changes that have taken place on campus have been important to accommodating our growing student body and the space needed for our academic programs,” said Person. “I am thrilled that work has begun on the Murchie Science Building so that improving our classrooms and labs can make for an even stronger educational experience for our students.”
As an advocate for professional development, Chancellor Person conceived and developed landmark programs in collaboration with University Human Resources. The LEAD and EXCEL programs have encouraged future campus leaders to reach their full potential, and their continuation will ensure that staff and faculty have the resources they need to grow and develop.
In the midst of much activity, Chancellor Person made it a priority to show support for students.
She traveled with the UM-Flint Chamber singers when they were invited to sing at the Pentagon. She was on-hand as students volunteered in the community on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. She proudly cheered on the UM-Flint hockey team. She continued the UM-Flint tradition of student centeredness.
“UM-Flint students and alumni have made my time at UM-Flint rich and fulfilling,” said Person. “They are the success stories of this campus, and it has been an honor to serve as their chancellor.”