89.1 WEMU

Back To School With U-M President Mark Schlissel: Immigration Impact, Donors & Football!

Sep 5, 2017

University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel (left) and 89.1 WEMU's Lisa Barry
Credit Lisa Barry

As a new academic year gets underway, 89.1 WEMU'S Lisa Barry spoke with University President Dr. Mark Schlissel in his on-campus office about a variety of topics, including the impact of immigration changes, recently raised questions about a major university donor, and, of course, football.


University of Michigan President Dr. Mark Schlissel says they are proud to have served the state of Michigan for two centuries as they celebrate their 200th birthday.  As he begins his fourth year as U of M president, he says it "feels like home now and he's finally getting his hands around the institution with better understanding of how it all works."

He says this is his favorite time of year on campus as there's a great sense of optimism and energy as students move back to campus to begin a new school year.  Schlissel says it's his job to make sure every student who comes to the University of Michigan has an opportunity to thrive and feel safe in a supportive environment and he also feels responsible for making sure the 50-60,000 people who work for the university feel well taken care of as well.

In addressing questions about immigration issues, the University of Michigan president pointed out that 20% of the outstanding Michigan faculty were born outside of the United States, and he wants them to feel welcome and supported.

In response to a recent Detroit Free Press exposé on major donor Stephen Ross's tax practices in donating property to the University, Dr. Schlissel says he can assure current and future donors that all proper procedures are being followed.  He added that the University was examined and they cooperated with the legal process which found no found no evidence of wrong doing on behalf of the University.

The "Go Blue Guarantee" begins in January at U of M, and the university president says the goal of the new free tuition program for in-state students who qualify is to make sure people feel they can afford to attend the University of Michigan.  And he also noted that they provide a lot of other types of financial aid to students from many different income levels.

When questioned about the necessity for a college degree, Dr. Schlissel said he want to be "unambiguous and completely clear that a college education is worth the price" and added society-wide data shows college graduates earn much more through their lifetime than non-college graduates.

He called University of Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh a "larger than life person who treats student athletes very well" and said he has learned that intercollegiate sports and football is a vibrant part of the University of Michigan.

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— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at lbarryma@emich.edu