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February 10, 1989 - Image 22

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1989-02-10
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'They treat us like a feeder into Ann Arbor. Most people here say
they're going somewhere else, but they're usually staying here.'
-Flint finance senior John Calvert
F lint: A thriving campus
amid' struggling city

'I see it this way - (University President James) Dude
President of the United States, and we're a state - we're
We're all under the same president, but we all have our ox
- Thomas Scharfenberg, Student Govei

O ne of the first things you
notice about the Flint
branch of the University of Michi-
gan is that the whole campus is
'united'. No, not 'united' in the
sense that the students, faculty, and
administration all have a common
cause, but literally united.
All the buildings on the campus
are linked by a system of over-the-
ground cross walks which offer ev-
eryone the option of not wearing a
coat as they traipse across campus in
the Michigan winter. These cross
walks, a new science building, and a
recently completed court yard, McK-
innon Plaza, are some of the many
features that give the Flint campus
its modern exterior.
Surface impressions aside,
though, I was sent to Flint not only
to describe the architecture, but to
explore and discover what makes the
Flint campus tick. So I headed north
on US-23 last week to find the Uni-
versity of Michigan at Flint (which
was harder than it seems because I
lost my directions, but that's a dif-
ferent story.)
The typical U-M-Flint student
lives at home and commutes to
campus. Most students have full or
part-time jobs, and many have
spouses and children. There are
about 6,350 students enrolled this
semester at Flint.
The campus is situated just off
Saginaw Street in downtown Flint,
adjacent to the Flint River. Driving
into town, the city seems reminis-
cent of any Eastern industrial city,
and doesn't show many signs of
economically depressed areas situated
just past downtown. The campus is
one of the bright spots in a town hit
hard by the decline of the American
automobile industry.
"This community expects a great
deal from this university," said Flint
Chancellor, Clinton Jones. The
campus is open on the weekends for
community use for everything from
basketball games to proms.
"There is extraordinary commu-
nity support... Community leaders
consider this campus to be theirs,"
said Provost and Vice Chancellor
Victor Wong. He added that the
community support, "distinguishes
Flint from the other campuses."
Jones, however, cautions those
Flint residents who may view the
University as a way to rescue the
town. "As a bright spot, many want

By Eve Becker
T homas Scharfenberg,
Student Government presi-
dent at the University's Dearborn
campus, thinks that the Dearborn
campus often operates as a separate
entity within the larger University.
"I see it this way - (University
President James) Duderstadt is like
the President of the United States,
and we're a state - we're like Wis-
consin. We're all under the same
president, but we all have our own
That identity, Scharfenberg said,
is one that belongs to a small, but
growing campus which serves a
commuting and working student
About half of Dearborn students
hold part-time jobs, and one-quarter
hold full-time jobs. Most come from
the surrounding Detroit metropolitan
area and live at home to save money.
Many students are older - 60
percent are over 21. Some are the
first children in their family to go to
college. Others are being paid to go
back to school by their employers.
Because of these characteristics,
the Dearborn campus takes on a dif-
ferent flavor than the larger Ann Ar-
bor campus.
"If you know Ann Arbor and
think that's what the University is,
then you don't understand us," said
Chancellor Blenda Wilson, sporting
a maize and blue button that reads,
"Best in Class, University of
Michigan - Dearborn."
"We're not a comprehensive re-
search University as in Ann Arbor,
or a community college as Henry
Ford Community College. We're
defining what we are, and we want to
be the best in that class of universi-
ties," explained Wilson, who began
her tenure as chancellor last July.
That class of universities includes
smaller, mainly undergraduate
schools that serve a regional
population, she said.
"To be the best, we have to be
the best among our kind.... (And) in
that class where we're not best,
we're going to be. We're best in
many areas already."
One of the highlights of the
school, which was founded in 1959
through a grant from Ford Motor
Company, is that many classes are
Becker is an LSA senior and a
former Daily news editor

Fairlane Mansion, the Henry
of the 250-acre Dearborn ca
donated entirely by Ford.

career-oriented. Students, since they
are working to support themselves,
want an education that will draw
connections between school and
"They're hard-working, serious.
They're very good students. What
they want to do is learn," said Vice
Chancellor and Dean of Academic
Affairs Eugene Arden.
"They're not only serious.
Sometimes they're too serious," Ar-
den said. "They have that practical
sense. They say: 'I know what I'm
here for. I don't want to work in the
Rouge River plant. I want to be a
lawyer or accountant, and this is my
way up and out'."
O ne of the major challenges
facing this commuter cam-
pus which empties out at night is
enhancing the extra-curricu lar life of
students. And everyone is aware of
the problem.
Arden calls it a "parking lot
Sheila Coss, news editor of the
weekly Michigan Journal, calls it
"student apathy."
Senior Dominique Wilson, a
biochemistry major who works for a
chemical company in Dearborn's
work co-op program, calls it "busy-
But whatever the label, students
and administrators agree that not
many students participate in extra-
curricular activities, whether that
means attending a speech or joining
a club.

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