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U-M Arts Initiative Signature


Our strengths and opportunities are clear—U-M is a leader in arts research, creation, education and presentation. As this initiative matures in the years ahead, we will have the opportunity to create new dimensions of U-M excellence through the arts—ones that are perhaps unknown to us today."

—President Mark S. Schlissel

Arts Initiative

President Schlissel and the Arts Initiative Working Group are inviting all members of the university community to help shape the Arts Initiative. Currently in its startup phase (January 2020 to December 2021), the Arts Initiative seeks to:

  • Enhance students’ creative capacities to solve problems
  • Increase understanding of humans and the human experience
  • Catalyze innovation, discovery and insights, especially through multidisciplinary faculty research
  • Exemplify and promote the importance of arts in a research university
  • Increase U-M’s engagement with the public through the arts


The startup phase is a dynamic period of investigation and inquiry during which the group seeks the input, ideas and thinking of faculty, staff, students, alumni and partner organizations through activities such as exploration projects, engagement sessions with stakeholder groups, and larger scale public interactions with art and performance.

Through these interactions we will explore questions such as:

  • How can we incorporate arts and creativity into the experience of all our students?

  • How can the arts help solve some of the most urgent problems facing us today?

  • How can the arts bring us together and strengthen empathy and dialog across differences?

  • How can the arts catalyze discovery and innovation in teaching, research and service?

    The answers to these questions will guide the planning and growth of the initiative. By completion of the startup phase, the working group will create a comprehensive programmatic plan for the initiative. The plan will define specific areas of focus, as well as budgetary and organizational recommendations to support the initiative’s long-term success.

The Arts Initiative is in the first year of a three-year startup phase through which we intend to outline a longer-term agenda for transformational change.

To launch this startup phase, we are engaging with stakeholders of many kinds, planning demonstration projects, and supporting faculty, staff, and students in pilot projects that test strategies for elevating the arts and their impact. As this initiative matures in the years ahead, we will have the opportunity to create new dimensions of Michigan excellence through the arts.


The University of Michigan Arts Initiative seeks to illuminate and expand human connections, inspire collaborative creativity, and build a more just and equitable world through the arts.


The University of Michigan Arts Initiative will make the arts central to the University’s identity and mission.

To achieve this, we will expand access to the arts on campus and beyond, activate them in student learning, and integrate the arts into research across disciplines. We will strengthen the arts ecosystem of southeast Michigan while also shaping national and global understandings of how the arts can lead social change.

Pathways and Projects

We will accomplish this vision by:

  • Advocating for the arts as a modality for addressing the most pressing problems of our day.
  • Changing the culture at the University of Michigan by centering the arts in teaching and learning, research, and community engagement.
  • Promoting the state of Michigan's contributions to arts and culture widely, and illustrate its centrality to our national artistic landscape.
  • Supporting arts-centered research and creative work that advances the mission of the university.
  • Putting social and racial justice at the center of our programs.
  • Integrating arts production, reception, and experiences with the arts more fully and broadly into the undergraduate curriculum.
  • Creating interdisciplinary spaces for collaboration and community-building.
  • Acting as a leading advocate for the power of the arts regionally, nationally, and globally.
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