Central Michigan University President George E. Ross' State of the University address this afternoon was not his first, but it was certainly his most historic.
Ross — CMU's 14th president — delivered his address on an important day in CMU's history: the very day the university began, 125 years ago.
And while his speech honored CMU's past, it also focused strongly on leading today and igniting the future.
"We look forward always, ever mindful of our history, of a culture that sets us apart and of preparing students to forge remarkable careers and lives," Ross said.
Ross addressed how the university continues to uphold the legacy that started in 1892 when it began to meet the needs of the state and its students. He also noted that the state of CMU is a positive one.
"I assure you, the state of Central Michigan University, in 2017, on our 125th anniversary, is great. We are a strong, vibrant, major, national university," he said.
Ross recognized several individuals throughout his address, from successful alumni such as Emmy award-winning journalist Lem Tucker, to CMU's current students, to faculty and staff for their dedication to the university.
Bold news for CMU's future
Ross also announced two new and expanding efforts launching this fall at CMU.
The first will cement premier external partnerships as one of three imperatives in
CMU's updated strategic plan.
Ford Motor Co. and
Quicken Loans as CMU's first two premier business partners.
Ross said these partnerships would be mutually beneficial.
"CMU students and graduates will have prime access to internships and jobs, thereby addressing gaps in our partners' talent pool," he said. "Our students and faculty also will be positioned to help our partners solve essential challenges through research and capstone projects. It's a win-win proposition."
Ford has ranked CMU among its top recruiting institutions in the world. The corporation employs nearly 1,000 CMU alumni and sponsors the university's Baja race team.
CMU is one of Quicken Loans' top three university recruitment partners across the country. More than 420 alumni are employed in the Quicken family of companies, and dozens of CMU students intern with the company every summer.
Birgit Behrendt, vice president of global programs and purchasing operations at Ford Motor Co., and Jim Livingston, vice president of talent acquisition at Quicken Loans, were present at the event and were recognized by Ross.
"I'm really honored to be able to have this privilege on behalf of Ford to receive this first prestigious award," Behrendt said after she joined Ross on stage. "It will continue to strengthen our relationship for recruiting in manufacturing, in IT, in purchasing — recruiting outstanding talent and future leaders to jointly put our stamp on the world. It has never been more exciting to be a part of the automotive industry, to be a part of Michigan, and we love that CMU is a part of our future leadership."
"This is a family; you hear that just listening to Dr. Ross speak today," Livingston said. "At Quicken Loans, that's the way we look at ourselves — as a true family and a true team. That's what you have here at CMU and it's special; you can feel it. I just want to say thank you from everyone at Quicken Loans."
The second initiative expands leadership development for all students.
A series of programs and experiences across campus will formally cement leadership experiences as part of the educational journey for every student.
"Our students will identify personal values, explore diverse viewpoints and consider the impact of their actions. They'll participate in volunteer activities and develop their own sense of purpose," Ross said. "This emphasis on leadership upholds the qualities and culture that have been 125 years in the making and differentiates a Central Michigan University education."
The leadership initiative also supports CMU's strategic plan as part of Imperative 1 – Nurturing Student Success.
Celebrating 125 years of meeting needs
The State of the University address is one of a series of events and initiatives throughout the 2017-18 academic year celebrating CMU's 125th anniversary.
A webpage about the anniversary, highlighting CMU's proud past and promising future, will be updated throughout the year.