UM Center for Academic Innovation Logo

April 2024 Director’s Update

Dear Center for Academic Innovation Community, 

A shining star in the constellation of activity at the Center for Academic Innovation is our Student Fellows program, which employs current U-M undergraduate and graduate students to contribute to innovation initiatives across the center. We recently had the opportunity to celebrate our Student Fellows at our annual Student Fellow Showcase, and our Fellows, in turn, shared with us the projects they worked on at CAI and how their fellowships have shaped their academic and professional journeys. 

Our celebration was a true reflection of our talented, diverse, and inclusive community. We were proud to honor our 55 Fellows for the 2023-24 academic year, a group that includes undergraduate and graduate students, as well as those enrolled in the Learning Experience Design Residency Program, a program co-led by CAI  and the Marsal Family School of Education. Students, faculty, and staff packed our center for the event. The presence of visiting instructors, CAI staff, and family members added to the richness of the event, showcasing the broad support and engagement within our community. 

The robustness of our Student Fellows program is distinctive to Michigan, setting us apart from peer institutions. This year featured Fellows from 10 schools and colleges throughout U-M, and it was great to hear them discuss the projects they contributed to in online learning, extended reality, education policy, educational technology, and research. More importantly, though, they reflected on how they had become better students, better learners, better professionals, and had a better sense of what they wanted to do with their careers because of their work at the center. 

The Fellows talked about the CAI mentors who helped them along the way and how much they enjoyed the center’s culture. They felt like it was both a great place to work and a great setting for learning, challenging conventional ideas, and trying new things, even if it meant making mistakes along the way. My CAI colleagues rave about our student fellows year after year, and this cohort helped continue the trend. We continue to be in awe of these students who combine curiosity, compassion, and a broad range of skills and expertise to help further our vision of a future in which education connects and empowers learners everywhere to reach their full potential throughout their lives.

Our Student Fellow program has grown significantly since our first cohort of 13 in 2015. In less than a decade, we’ve surpassed 350 fellows with skills as diverse as copyright specialists, 3D graphic artists, quality assurance specialists, learning designers, marketing specialists, data scientists, and more. 

There are so many things that make me proud to be a member of the U-M community and to lead the team at CAI. Our Student Fellow program is near the top of the list because it exemplifies everything we stand for, including engaging learners to shape the future of learning and creating equitable, lifelong educational opportunities for learners everywhere.  

Congratulations to our 2023-24 cohort of Fellows. We can’t wait to see where you will go next.

Go blue!

James DeVaney
Associate Vice Provost for Academic Innovation
Founding Executive Director of the Center for Academic Innovation