Dear Colleagues,
As we prepare our graduates for the workplace of the future, we are mindful that the future is not a linear projection of the past. New technologies, emerging societal needs, and securing planetary health are just some of the factors that make it difficult to predict how the workplace will change in the years ahead. Therefore, the thoughtful consideration of strengthening our university is an ongoing and collaborative process with industry, state and federal agencies, private foundations, and our community. 
After consultation with the Office of the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, deans, and several faculty and staff, I am pleased to share with you a strategic merger of two key departments at UM-Flint. This merger will enable UM-Flint to seize new opportunities—advance faculty scholarly endeavors, generate external grants, enhance community and industry partnerships, and promote regional economic development—as we strive to make excellence our hallmark as a regional public university.
Office of Research and Economic Development 
Effective today, the Offices of Research and Sponsored Programs and University Outreach will come together to create the new Office of Research and Economic Development (ORED). The main priorities of ORED will be to significantly enhance institutional activities in externally funded research, establish partnerships for economic development, and solidify corporate and foundation relations for the benefit of our students and faculty. ORED will operate under the leadership of Associate Professor Heather Dawson (Biology) and will report to the Office of the Chancellor. Dr. Dawson, a co-lead of an internal analysis team for the U-M President's Commission on Carbon Neutrality, is an active researcher in aquatic ecology and fisheries management and also has experience working with the federal government.
ORED will consist of the following units: 

  • The Office of Economic Development under the direction of Paula Nas. This unit will continue to include Kelli Catrell, Nic Custer, David Merot, and Troy Rosencrants from the former University Outreach. In addition, Sara Barton and Angelina Wittenkeller from Career Services will transfer their responsibilities to this unit focusing on corporate and business engagement.  
  • The Office of Research under the continued direction of Ken Sylvester. All staff members from Research and Sponsored Programs, Joanne DeVore, Andrew Louis, and Erin Kingsley, will remain including Mary Auge from the Office of the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, who will continue to focus on research partnerships and technology transfer.

Engaged Learning Joins the Center for Global Engagement
This reorganization will help us deepen our commitment to providing safe and powerful off-campus engaged learning opportunities, both domestically and internationally. Leyla Sanker and Gary Ashley from the former University Outreach will move to the Center for Global Engagement (CGE) in the Office of the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Studies. Within CGE, Leyla and Gary will join the new Office of Engaged Learning under the direction of Sarah Pattison, Associate Director for Global Engagement. 
By transferring these responsibilities to CGE, we will be able to consistently align the best practices and procedures for both domestic and international off-campus experiences. This new office within CGE solidifies and unifies the part of our mission that strives to build and foster a community of “diverse learners and scholars committed to advancing our local and global communities,” and it works to advance engaged citizenship through place-based education.   
Career Center Changes
Assisting students with their career aspirations continues to be an integral component of student success at UM-Flint. As part of our ongoing commitment to prepare and connect students with career opportunities, Myesha Cannon will transfer her current job responsibilities from the Career Center to the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS). Myesha's primary focus has been with CAS students and this transition will allow her to provide more focused guidance, connections, and counseling for CAS students as they search for work experiences in their fields of study. The corporate and business engagement unit in ORED will continue to provide business connections, networking opportunities, and new contacts to support Myesha's work, as well as the career work of all the Colleges and Schools here at UM-Flint. 
The realignment of these units is an important step in maximizing the many talents of UM-Flint faculty and staff to achieve the strongest possible results. ORED will help create new partnerships for faculty, additional revenue sources for the University, and new opportunities for our students leading to better retention and graduation rates. I am appreciative of the enthusiasm and willingness of so many people, most importantly the staff of ORED, for embracing this change. I am excited about the new collaborations, opportunities, and partnerships that will result for UM-Flint faculty, staff, and students through ORED. 
In good health,

Deba Dutta