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LETTER: Proud to be a Chippewa

As the university celebrates its 120th anniversary, the students, faculty and staff of Central Michigan University should be both proud of, and grateful for, the decisions made by previous generations of Chippewas.

We should be grateful to those with the courage and vision to transform our institution from Central Michigan Normal School and Business College (1892) to (sequentially): Central State Teachers College (1927); Central Michigan College of Education (1941); Central Michigan College (1955) and Central Michigan University (1959), which today is considered a national doctoral institution.

Today, the university is in the process of another major transformation as it prepares to become a major player in the most dynamic, fastest growing, and arguably most important industry in the world: health care.

This has been, as one might expect, a challenging and contentious transformation. Yet this change is part of an inexorable march forward and helps us serve the highest and best interests of Michigan and the dreams and aspirations of students across the state and beyond. Furthermore, although the College of Medicine has attracted the greatest attention, it is just one example of CMU’s ongoing progress to better serve the needs of our students, support economic development and promote the sustainable use of our natural resources. A decade ago, CMU did not offer degrees in engineering. Now we have four undergraduate engineering programs that attract academically-prepared and engaged students who go on to secure high-paying jobs in industries that support our economy. Engineering is a direct parallel to medicine, because it is also a high-cost discipline. It requires institutional investment and support, but that is justified by the increased opportunities it affords our students as well as the broader societal benefits.

Another example of progress is CMU’s new Institute for Great Lakes Research, which involves more than 20 members of faculty across a range of disciplines. This institute is already a recognized leader in providing the information required to understand and protect the Great Lakes ecosystems. Why is this important? The Great Lakes are under tremendous pressure from climate change, pollution and invasive species but contain more than 20 percent of the world’s (and 95 percent of North America’s) surface freshwater; directly sustaining 1.5 million jobs, supporting a $7.5 billion recreational and commercial fishery and serving as a major transportation conduit for imports and exports from across Canada and the midwest.

So far as the College of Medicine is concerned, we are already reaping the benefits of the decision to become involved in medical education. This year alone, more than 180 first year students indicated that their primary reason for choosing CMU was our commitment to medical education and the possibility of being accepted into our College of Medicine. Those 180 students alone represent more than $8 million in tuition and fees just for their undergraduate years in school. It is important that CMU offers these and all of our students the best possible educational opportunities. This is why the university is actively pursuing the largest single investment in its history to build a $95 million biosciences building that will provide needed state-of-the-art research and classroom space (and become the new home for the Department of Biology).

The College of Medicine presents an opportunity for the College of Business Administration, College of Science and Technology and the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow College of Health Professions to advance our educational programs and research. This will encompass everything from increasing our fundamental understanding of the biology of stress and aging in cells to improving the marketing, management and delivery of health care.

The College of Medicine will undoubtedly increase our research profile and become a magnet for federal and private research dollars. Increased research funding leads to higher quality education across the entire university and greater opportunities for both faculty researching in the diverse fields of health care and students involved with those faculty and in those research projects.

Of course the College of Medicine's mission of service to Mid-Michigan and Northern Michigan will certainly enrich health and economic welfare of the region we call home.  We believe that in years to come, we will laud the decision to launch the College of Medicine and further advance the reach, reputation and influence of CMU.

Finally, the debate about whether CMU should be focused on research or education, a graduate or undergraduate institution misses an important fact; CMU is already a comprehensive university that is all of these things and much more. We retain a strong focus on high-quality undergraduate education, yet our faculty includes many world-renowned individuals recognized for their contributions across a range of disciplines in the sciences, management, humanities, professional fields and creative arts. We cannot stand still but must continue to invest and adapt. As the examples above illustrate, we can move forward across a broad range of fronts with every prospect of success and we should continue to have the courage to do so. Furthermore, although the initiatives described above, and many others, have required one-time and ongoing investment of university funds, they have made CMU a stronger institution with an enhanced reputation and broader scope — so too will the College of Medicine. Within the next decade, doctors who received their training at CMU will be saving lives across Michigan and beyond. We believe this is a vision worthy of the support of everyone connected with our university.

Dr. Charles T. Crespy Dean, College of Business Administration

Dr. Ian R Davison Dean, College of Science and Technology