DETROIT – With jazz and partly cloudy skies hanging in the background, Central Michigan University opened its new downtown Detroit Global Campus and outreach office with much fanfare on Wednesday.
The office, 777 Woodward Avenue, was used throughout the year for CMU hosted events, including its New Venture competition, but was officially opened to the public during a ceremony at 11 a.m.
University President George Ross spoke about the new location and what this means for a diverse population of students outside CMU’s regional reach.
“We hosted our first alumni event earlier this month in, shall I say, this ‘central location,’ and the city of Detroit looked remarkable,” Ross said. “During that event, I had people come up to me from Detroit, southeast Michigan and Mount Pleasant, and they all said that opening this location was simply the right thing to do.”
Also in attendance were two CMU trustees, administrators, a handful of professors and alumni who represented Metro Detroit’s thriving business community. Adding music to the event, a band of CMU music professors led by saxophone instructor John Nichol played muted standards as guests mingled.
The offices, hailed as a Global Campus outpost, will act as a recruiting mission for CMU in Wayne County as a whole. This location will work to serve Wayne at one of its major epicenters.
Aside from the Detroit office, the only other Wayne County locations are in Dearborn and Livonia.
The Global Campus brand is known as one of top online programs in the country. However, Provost Michael Gealt, in between shaking hands and making small talk with Detroit’s business elite, said that the offices mean more to CMU than one more way to attract online students.
“It’s about having a presence in the Metro area,” Gealt said. ”It will help us be closer to Michigan’s major industries and help us garner internships for students outside of central Michigan.”
Most of all, Gealt said the addition of classrooms and seminar space in the building will attract residential students who can’t take classes in Mount Pleasant.
“With other locations, like Troy or Flint, they’ll be known as just Global Campus locations,” he said. “This will be different. These rooms are multipurpose, and if we have students in the area wanting face-to-face interactions, a personal relationship with a professor, they can get that here just as they could if they were on campus.”
Gealt said the focus for real-time course work in the Detroit location will be the university’s Master of Science in Administration degree. The College of Business brand is an academic area that he and other administrators want to see flourish. Gealt said that CMU brass were also opening it to other areas.
Earlier this year, the space was used to audition prospective music students in Detroit and Wayne County, said Tryone Jordan, executive assistant to Ross and the head of CMU’s Metro Detroit Outreach programs.
“We’ve always held auditions for (music students), but they’d have to come to campus in order to do it,” Jordan said. “Now they can come here. They can apply and be accepted and attend financial aid workshops.”
For Jordan, the allure of new internships for existing students is what excites him the most about the office.
“Some of our students, nearly 70 of them, already have internships with Quicken Loans,” he said. “Now, we can start reaching out to other companies, like Blue Cross-Blue Shield and start networking down the line for our students. We’ll be able to piggy back on the things that (Metro Detroit) already has in place.”
Having those companies at CMU’s disposal is key for making sure its students find jobs – especially if those companies are owned by university alumni like Joe Vicari, president and CEO of the Joe Vicari Restaurant Group.
Vicari’s company owns six different Metro Detroit chains, including the upscale Italian eatery Andiamo.
Vicari, who graduated from CMU in 1979 and played linebacker under football coach Herb Deromedi, said exposure is everything.
Now that an “Action C” hangs prominently in the Detroit skyline, Vicari said CMU is in a prime position to establish opportunities for its students through its alumni base.
“We have nearly 50,000 almuni here in southeast Michigan,” Vicari said. “This is about reaching out to them.”
Visit cm-life.com for more on the location and its impact on attracting diverse students.