Fall 2019 Welcome Letter

Colleagues and Friends,

Welcome to the Center for Academic Innovation: a home for the University of Michigan’s growing, global community designing the future of learning through collaborative research, innovation, experimentation, and iteration. This letter comes at a time of exciting transition as we evolve from an Office to a new Center and expand our model of academic innovation to benefit learners everywhere.

Over the last five years, we have championed academic innovation across campus to advance learning, facilitate problem solving, foster equity and inclusivity, and increase access and affordability. Few experiences have been as rewarding as seeing the U-M community come together to extend academic excellence, expand our public purpose, and discover new frontiers for teaching and learning. Our community of innovators has rallied around a campus-wide call to examine how teaching and learning can be enhanced by unprecedented access to digital content, ubiquitous opportunities for connection, and an explosion of data about learners, educators, and their interactions.

Examples of academic innovation in action flourish, and our community continues to expand in important ways. Today, the Center greets faculty members eager to design new teaching and learning innovations; we engage administrators exploring new models for program delivery and design; we empower students seeking applied learning experiences through our fellowship programs; we support researchers who ask new questions and imagine new collaborations; we welcome faculty and staff who seek out events and learning communities to explore new terrain; and we are inspired by colleagues from other institutions and industries while we exchange knowledge and form creative multi-institutional partnerships.The work of our Center is enriched by each of these different perspectives.  

Our legacy at U-M is one that combines a powerful engine for innovation with a fundamental commitment to our public purpose. We are committed to the discovery of what’s next and steadfast about sharing what we learn. We are seeing positive impact across higher education as organizations like ours develop new capabilities in curricular innovation, in educational data and research, and in the design of tools for learning. The educational and societal problems we hope to solve require leadership from a great public research university, yet these problems are far too large and complex for any institution to solve alone. We are convinced that the future of higher education depends upon deep collaboration between institutions. Rather than looking at the world in terms of zero-sum competition, we believe that the most successful path for higher education is built upon interdependence. 

In the year ahead we will look for new ways to bring stakeholders together to advance a much needed nationwide network for academic innovation. We must find more and better ways to support one another through partnerships around research, pedagogy, design, and new business models. Our most important educational challenges – access, affordability, agility – require the complementary strengths of multiple institutions.

We need your help to design a future that meets the needs of all learners. Participate in our Academic Innovation at Michigan (AIM) event series. Read our impact stories and share your own. Engage with us through new research and innovation partnerships.

Thank you in advance for being a part of a growing nationwide network for academic innovation. We are looking forward to an exciting 2019-20 academic year and many opportunities to work with you to shape the future!

Go Blue!

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