Look to Michigan: The ‘defining public university of the future’

Excellence at scale

After a year of gathering input from the campus community, the University of Michigan has released its strategic vision for the next 10 years and has pledged to be the defining public university, “boldly exemplified by our innovation and service to the common good.”

Vision 2034 — detailed in an initial 43-page report — calls upon the University to leverage its interdisciplinarity and excellence at scale to educate learners, advance society, and make groundbreaking discoveries to impact the greatest challenges facing humanity.

“Together, we have created a new vision that will open horizons and opportunities while drawing on our ethos, our tremendous strengths, and our exceptional capabilities as a university,” President Santa J. Ono said in a video message announcing the vision.

The vision incorporates strategic planning efforts across the institution — including at UM-Dearborn, UM-Flint, and Michigan Medicine — as well as other campuswide initiatives such as Culture Journey, DEI 2.0, and Campus Plan 2050.

The University will focus its efforts to make a significant impact in four key areas:

  • Life-changing education
  • Human health and well-being
  • Democracy and civic and global engagement
  • Climate action, sustainability, and environmental justice.

To support its vision, the University will make strategic investments in seven commitment areas:

  • Purpose-driven education and student experience
  • Research, scholarship, discovery, and artificial intelligence
  • Community health support, prevention, and performance
  • Arts and creative expression
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion
  • Faculty and staff engagement and experience
  • Innovation, partnerships, and economic development.

Watch a video introduction of Vision 2034 by President Santa J. Ono.

Plan behind the plan

The University will celebrate each of the four impact areas with a yearlong series of events. The 2024-25 academic year will be dedicated to democracy and civic engagement.

The University’s vision is guided by its values and mission and reflects the aspirations of the U-M community.

“Our vision is not a strategic plan, but rather a guide for where we will focus our efforts over the next 10 years,” Ono said. “It is a first in our history and builds on our 200-year legacy of leadership and impact.”

In January 2023, Ono announced the university would engage the U-M community in a strategic vision process led by U-M’s three executive vice presidents — Laurie McCauley, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs; Geoffrey Chatas, executive vice president and chief financial officer; and Marschall Runge, executive vice president for medical affairs, chief executive officer at Michigan Medicine, and dean of the Medical School.

More than 25,000 students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors, and local community members engaged in the yearlong vision planning effort.

Their input informed the impact and commitment areas including the set of guiding statements outlining aspirational goals for the university for each area.

Getting specific

The vision report points to current initiatives across the University as examples of the types of efforts that could be created or receive additional support.

Within the impact area of “life-changing education,” programs like Wolverine Pathways, which offers free college preparation to seventh- through 12th-grade students in Detroit, Southfield, Ypsilanti, and Grand Rapids, and free online courses through the Center for Academic Innovation, which extends the reach of U-M courses to more than 11 million global learners, are helping to increase access to a U-M education.

For “human health and well-being,” the vision report noted the work of the Well-being Collective, a central hub for a systemwide approach to supporting students, faculty, and staff.

For “democracy, civic, and global engagement,” the report singles out civic engagement efforts by UMich Votes — a non-partisan campus coalition whose mission is to improve the accessibility of voting — and Turn Up Turnout — a student organization with a presence on all three U-M campuses — to educate and encourage voting behaviors among students.

For “climate action, sustainability, and environmental justice,” the report points to the Planet Blue Ambassador program that, with more than 9,000 students, faculty and staff, helps to advance sustainability through actions on and off campus and supports the University’s commitment to become carbon neutral by 2040.

The physical plant

Several building projects are now underway that will support the vision in the near term.

  • The Hadley Family Recreation and Well-Being Center will offer world-class facilities for exercise, connection, and wellness when it opens in the fall of 2025.
  • The Dan and Betty Kahn Health Care Pavilion, a new hospital that will house a state-of-the-art neurosciences center, advanced imaging, and high-level, specialty care services for cardiovascular and thoracic patients, will open in the fall of 2025.
  • The Central Campus residential complex will add 2,300 undergraduate beds and a 900-seat dining hall on Central Campus when it opens in the fall of 2026.
  • The U-M Center for Innovation in Detroit, a cutting-edge research, education, and entrepreneurship hub, will open in the spring of 2027.

In unveiling the vision, Ono has called upon the U-M community to embrace the vision and the work toward 2034.

“We’ve established our vision. Let’s make it a reality. So, let’s look to Michigan, and let’s dare to achieve our dreams,” he said.

Explore the Vision 2034 website.


  1. Arthur Schwartz - 1968

    DEI bureaucrats are an enormous waste of scarce resources. Use the $30 million/year wasted on divisive bureaucrats to provide scholarships for less fortunate students.


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