Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students:
Setting a course for a strong, productive future has been the focus this month at the University of Michigan-Flint. With determination and resolve, we are putting into action new initiatives and ideas designed to help students achieve and the campus to grow.
At today’s meeting of the University of Michigan Board of Regents, several new developments and initiatives were approved that will support our work in the months to come.
Revised Budget to be Considered at July Meeting
The 4-4 tie vote on the university’s consolidated fiscal year 2020/20201 budget at today’s Regents meeting now means a revised budget will be considered at the July meeting. An update will be provided after that meeting.
New Funding for Student Success at UM-Flint
During the meeting, President Schlissel announced he would make a $10 million fund available to be shared by the UM-Dearborn and UM-Flint campuses as “part of our ongoing commitment to our regional campuses to help them best serve their students and the state.” The funds will be devoted to student success initiatives identified by each chancellor and specific to each campus’s strategic priorities.
Investing significantly in student success at this critical moment in time is an opportunity to help our students reach their educational goals. In the coming weeks, we will carefully consider how these funds will be spent to benefit our students. I am very appreciative of President Schlissel's ongoing, steadfast support of UM-Flint students.
First Meeting of the Regional Campus Committee
The first meeting of the new Regional Campus Committee was held on June 18. Chaired by Regent Michael Behm, the Regents discussed issues that are unique to both UM-Flint and UM-Dearborn. For UM-Flint, they were laser-focused on indicators of academic excellence, student success, and fiscal stability. They expressed their strong support for the new School of Technology and asked that UM-Flint moves with urgency. This committee will meet quarterly.
New Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
The Regents approved Dr. Sonja Feist-Price as the next Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at UM-Flint. Dr. Feist-Price is currently the Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Professor, Department of Early Childhood, Special Education, and Counselor Education in the College of Education at the University of Kentucky. She will begin her duties at UM-Flint on August 1, 2020.
Dr. Feist-Price recorded a video message for the campus, where she shares her excitement about joining our campus community.
Dr. Sonja Feist-Price is the new Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at UM-Flint! Join us in welcoming her to the campus on August 1, 2020. Dr. Feist-Price is excited to join the UM-Flint campus and community.
Charles Stewart Mott Foundation Grant to Support Degree Completion
We are very pleased to have received a grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation that will have a significant impact on increasing the number of people with bachelor and graduate degrees in Genesee County.
The Pathway to Completion (PTC) Program, funded in part by a $750,000 grant from the Mott Foundation, will offer incentives to individuals with some UM-Flint college credits to return to the university to complete their degrees. UM-Flint will match that grant, bringing the total investment in the program to $1.5 million for scholarships. Currently, over a million people are part of the non-completer population in the state of Michigan.
To alleviate financial pressures that often force students to drop out, the PTC program will offer nine credits for free to students who return to UM-Flint to complete their degrees.
Please join me in thanking our longtime benefactor the Mott Foundation for their unwavering support of UM-Flint. Many thanks to Kristi Hottenstein for her leadership on securing this important grant that will positively impact our students.
Faculty Appointments and Administrative Appointments
Constance J. Creech, Professor of Nursing, was appointed Interim Dean, for the School of Nursing effective August 1, 2020.
Professor Creech received her BSN degree from the University of Michigan-Flint, and her MSN degree and Ed.D. from Wayne State University. Professor Creech joined the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor faculty in 1989 as an adjunct clinical preceptor, joined the University of Michigan-Flint in 1995, and became a professor in 2018.
Professor Creech has over 40 years of experience in her career as a registered nurse, nurse practitioner, nurse educator, and nurse administrator. She has been the primary investigator of numerous funded grants and is currently the project director of three large multi-year federal grants.
Professor Creech will remain in this interim role through January 31, 2021. Founding School of Nursing Dean Margaret Andrews will retire on July 31, and more information on her outstanding service to the campus will be released in the coming weeks.
There were also other administrative appointments in CAS and SOM and several appointments to executive committees in SOM, SON, and CAS. Thank you to these faculty for giving of their time to serve the needs of their schools and college.
The Determination to Shape the Future of UM-Flint
2020 is an endurance test that never ends. To get to the halfway point of this remarkable year has been a collective act of determination.
With the release of the plan for Fall 2020 this week, we are focused on providing an excellent educational experience for our students both online and to a limited degree in-person. I am grateful for the work of so many on this campus to create our version of a new normal for the campus community. The processes and protocols that are being put in place for the wellbeing of all people are the foundation of getting our university through this difficult phase.
Maintaining an unrelenting sense of purpose right now is critical. It is important in times like these to look for inspiration to give us the fortitude to soldier on. Lucky for us, it is a soldier, one of our former student veterans, whose inspirational story of determination offers a lesson for us all. It is a story I shared with the Regents today in my closing remarks.
Alumnus Raymond Kusch is an Army veteran who suffered significant injuries from an IED explosion while serving in Iraq. Raymond eventually recovered and enrolled at UM-Flint. While earning his degree in business, he was also a member of the UM-Flint Hockey team and was selected to play for Team USA in the 2020 International Disabled Hockey World Cup. Now, Raymond has been named the 2020 USA Hockey Disabled Hockey Player of the Year.
Raymond graduated last December with high honors, earning the Maize and Blue Award, and was named the student speaker for the commencement ceremony. He reflected on his time at UM-Flint stating, “I have grown immeasurably, personally and professionally, in my time here. UM-Flint helped me overcome my traumatic brain injury and cope with my PTSD and depression, which ultimately helped me reintegrate into society.”
Raymond is a phenomenal example of the indefatigable power of the human spirit and the belief that we must go on in order to reach our greatest potential. In the darkest times, having the valor, the guts, to go on in spite of great difficulties shows that it is absolutely possible to beat the odds. We must join together, dig deep, and find the will and determination that Raymond found as we face this defining moment in the history of this university.
As today has shown, President Schlissel, the Board of Regents, and community partners such as the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation are standing with us through this period of time, supporting our students and their educational goals. They understand the complexities of the challenges that we face and are working with all of us on positive solutions. We will stand with them, believing in ourselves, and in this noble, worthy cause of building a resilient future for our students, our campus, and this community. We will persevere.
Best wishes for the upcoming holiday.