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India and the University of Michigan: A rich history and an exciting future


By Mark S. Schlissel

For more than a century, India and the University of Michigan have shared a commitment to quality education and mutual prosperity. Now our future has even more potential for success because of our shared commitment to innovation and technology.

U-M is working to address many of the same challenges faced by India as we strive to deliver quality education at large scales. Population growth, combined with the needs of a global economy in the information age, places a premium on an educated workforce with the training and agility to succeed in a rapidly changing world. Professionals in both our nations are increasingly asked to solve problems and understand markets that encompass different nations, cultures and traditions.

At the University of Michigan, our core values of academic excellence and collaboration are the foundation of our global approach. We have made investments in innovation and technology that offer many opportunities for partnerships. Faculty, students and graduates develop and nurture relationships with people in areas such as education, health care, business and government with the goal of producing long-term benefits.

One of our most impactful and innovative joint efforts is our Medical School’s collaboration with All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi. Together, we’ve conducted research on cancer, immunology, genetics, trauma and disaster medicine.

Scale never comes at the expense of quality at U-M. Using Big Data and innovative pedagogies, we have expanded the field of learning science, including devoting resources to the development of learning analytics to enhance the quality of our curriculum. This includes a $50 million investment in a new Center for Academic Innovation, which was established in part to enable greater collaborations around the globe and improve access to high quality education.

U-M’s engagement with India dates back more than a century. In 1897, Sanskrit was first taught at the university. Pioneering sugarcane scientist Janaki Ammal sought out the University of Michigan for its world-class education in the 1920s, becoming the first Indian woman to earn a doctorate in botany.

Today, 616,000 Indian learners have also engaged with our curriculum by taking our open online courses developed by our world-class faculty in many fields. Additionally, more than 550 industry leaders from 70 Indian companies have enhanced their knowledge and skills through the Executive Education program at our Ross School of Business. Many U-M students benefit from coming to India, as well, including 90 future nurses who have learned during internships at the Salokaya College of Nursing.

A story recounted by U-M professor Gautam Kaul shows the potential interest in our shared future. While teaching an online introduction to finance course, Prof. Kaul visited India and announced that he would meet students at a local coffee shop. Three hundred Indian students signed up, creating a demand so high that he moved the session to a nearby shopping mall.

It is this passion and commitment that are inspiring much of our work together.

The University of Michigan looks forward to strengthening partnerships with India to advance technology and innovation in ways that produce mutual benefits, enhance economic growth, and expand educational and research opportunities for our talented faculty and students.

My additional pledge to all of you is that the University of Michigan will continue to work to remain open to scholars and collaborations across international borders. In recent months and years, we have strived to support students, faculty and staff from all countries as US policies have shifted and become less predictable.

At the University of Michigan, we are proud to be home to a global community of scholars, from India and elsewhere, who make us whole and better able to serve the world through education and research.

(Mark S. Schlissel is President of the University of Michigan. He is visiting India this week.)





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