President’s Message

President schlissel's portrait

For more than two centuries, the University of Michigan has worked to serve the public and address some of our world’s most pressing challenges. Our sound financial footing and strategic use of resources have positioned us to continue to fulfill our critical mission in the years ahead.

A key strength of our university is the amazing breadth of academic and research expertise that we are able to bring to bear in pursuit of excellence, innovation and societal change. As you’ll see in this report, there is no better evidence of this strength than the achievements of our faculty, staff and students.

Additionally, U-M is ranked No. 1 in research volume among the nation’s public universities for the eighth consecutive year. Our $1.62 billion in research expenditures is a 4.8 percent increase from FY 2018.

In the months and years to come, we will continue to do what the University of Michigan has done for generations: embark on bold new initiatives that advance the public good, promote understanding through scholarship and enrich the human experience for those in our state and beyond.


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Perhaps my most important responsibility as president is to position the university to use its vast strengths and assets to achieve excellence and magnify public impact.

A prime example is our Biosciences initiative. Throughout the past year, we have recruited talented faculty, enhanced research core facilities and fostered multidisciplinary collaborations that focus on challenging problems in the life sciences. U-M will fund nine major projects totaling up to $45 million this year to tackle issues such as the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of concussion and our planet’s adaptation to human-caused climate change.

And 50 years after our community helped to galvanize the environmental movement in the leadup to the first Earth Day, our faculty-led Commission on Carbon Neutrality has begun developing recommendations for reducing U-M’s carbon emissions to levels that are environmentally sustainable.

As we continued working to address these major challenges, we also launched additional initiatives to take on others. We established the Center for Academic Innovation, which is considering, testing and implementing new models for education — ones that are more effective and more equitable and that provide worldwide access to personalized learning experiences.

Our new Firearm Injury Prevention Research Initiative will bring together U-M researchers in fields such as public health, medicine, social sciences, engineering, public policy and the arts to develop new knowledge and data on how to prevent firearm injuries and death.

The growing number of firearm injuries and deaths is a public health crisis in our country, and the university houses the nation’s largest collection of firearm injury datasets.

“A key strength of our university is the amazing breadth of academic and research expertise that we are able to bring to bear in pursuit of excellence, innovation and societal change.”

Additionally, a new comprehensive arts initiative at the university will explore how the arts can bring us together around creativity and solving problems and how we incorporate art and art making into the Michigan experience of all our students.

The generous contributions of the U-M family continue to be so critical in advancing our mission. Donors gave a final total of $5.28 billion during our Victors for Michigan campaign, which concluded at the end of 2018. In the past fiscal year, donors have continued to support U-M’s success, with our second-highest private fundraising year ever!


We recently announced two ambitious new projects that will dramatically expand our impact in the region over the next five years and through the decades ahead.

The first is a new 12-story, 264-room adult hospital that will increase patient access and transform medical and surgical care at our medical center in Ann Arbor. The new facility will include specialty care services for cardiovascular and thoracic disease patients, advanced imaging capabilities and a state-of-the-art neurological and neurosurgical center.

It complements Michigan Medicine’s existing health care services, which include the new Brighton Center for Specialty Care. That 297,000-square-foot facility opened late last year and offers more than 50 specialty services, including cancer care and orthopaedic surgery.

Michigan Medicine has already been ranked the top hospital in the state and one of the top in the nation. This new Ann Arbor facility will ensure we’re able to do even more for the millions of people who rely on us for quality advanced health care.

The second project — the Detroit Center for Innovation — leverages our role as the top public research university in the nation to further economic development in Detroit and the region. As the anchor for the project, U-M will operate a state-of-the-art research and academic center that is expected to focus on such areas as artificial intelligence, mobility, sustainability, data science, cybersecurity, entrepreneurship and financial technology.

The university has engaged with our state’s largest city and its people since we were founded there more than 200 years ago. Our researchers, students, staff, alumni and partners already are involved in roughly 300 ongoing programs and initiatives that touch on public education, cultural expression, business, health care, poverty and the arts within Detroit.

In short, the university has much to celebrate and much to look forward to as we continue to invest in academic excellence. I thank all community members and supporters who ensure that we excel as we advance our most important mission.
This new project is the latest component of a thriving ecosystem of partnership with the city and its people, and I’m thrilled to see what we will achieve.


Our university community continues to evolve and advance our values of excellence, diversity, equity and inclusion. The new William Monroe Trotter Multicultural Center on Central Campus opened earlier this year as an inclusive space to celebrate our diversity and serve students of many cultural identities. The university has a long history of engagement with issues of social justice, both on and off campus, and this new center supports that heritage.

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Our new chancellors at UM-Dearborn and UM-Flint — Domenico Grasso and Deba Dutta, respectively — are each leading their campus communities through strategic planning processes to develop priorities for advancing each institution.

And just this fall, the university was selected to host a U.S. presidential election debate in 2020. The event aligns with our commitment to public service and civic engagement and will provide a timely lens for our campus community to grapple with the issues that affect our nation and define our democratic processes.

None of this would be possible without the university’s strong financial position, as detailed in the Chief Financial Officer’s Report.

In short, the university has much to celebrate and much to look forward to as we continue to invest in academic excellence and societal impact. I thank all community members and supporters who ensure that we continue to excel as we advance our most important mission.

Sincerely, Mark S. Schlissel's signature
Mark S. Schlissel