During the summer of 2006, the engineering department at UM-Flint was approached by the College of Engineering (CoE) at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. CoE hoped to increase its student diversity by creating a program that would streamline qualified Flint students into Ann Arbor.
According to Motjaba Vaziri, a professor of physics and engineering at UM-Flint, what came from this would eventually be known as the “2+2 Guaranteed Admit Program.” Named after the fact that students would be spending two years studying in Flint and two in Ann Arbor, the program guaranteed admittance into CoE for students who met the requirements.
At the time, Vaziri was serving as the chair of Computer Science, Engineering and Physics at UM-Flint. He was asked to spearhead the project, drafting an agreement between CoE and UM-Flint’s College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) that would allow CAS’ engineering students to do just that.
Requirements for the program included a multitude of courses in math, physics, engineering, computer programming and chemistry to be taken at UM-Flint. Additional courses in humanities and social sciences were required to graduate from CoE, but could be taken at Ann Arbor.
These required courses were intended to prepare UM-Flint students for the rigorous workload in the final two years of an engineering degree at CoE. Additionally, a stipulation inside 2+2’s language stated all required courses had to be passed with a C or higher.
Additionally, applicants for the program had to meet Ann Arbor’s cumulative GPA and cumulative math, science and engineering core GPA minimums.
Vaziri, who originally served as director for all Flint students enrolled in 2+2, knew the agreement forwards and backward. As course descriptions changed throughout the years, he would personally amend any disparities between CoE’s and CAS’ requirements and credit transfers.
“Universities change courses, they change program requirements. So when CoE made those changes, they needed to tell us [2+2] about them. We have to take those changes and make them work for the program,” said Vaziri.
And the 2+2 program did see success for a while. As Vaziri stated, every student who was able to meet the requirements and applied for a transfer to CoE was accepted. “Overall, I loved being a part of the 2+2 program. I felt as though I got a better understanding of basic math, science and language arts principles at U of M – Flint than my classmates in Ann Arbor,” said Kaitlyn Sallans, a former 2+2 student who graduated from CoE in December of 2019.
In late 2016, however, a series of changes to admissions structure in CoE as well as advisors in CAS paired with Vaziri’s departure from the program led 2+2 through a turbulent moment in its history.
Vaziri, who had served as a liaison between CoE and CAS, had stepped down in order to let newly-hired career advisors take control of 2+2. This meant that at least momentarily, communication between CoE and CAS had been disrupted. “The School of Engineering was no longer accepting the students. Applicants went straight to Ann Arbor’s admission offices. They didn’t know about this agreement [2+2],” said Vaziri.
Though Vaziri had personally helped transfer all information regarding 2+2 to the new advisors, complete knowledge of the program was not there and students became frustrated.
In an open letter signed by over 100 students, concerns over changes in the Engineering Department were raised. Although 2+2 was never explicitly mentioned in the letter, other concerns such as the irregularity of courses being offered and the advisor’s lack of “in-depth knowledge” about the degree program grew frustrations.
This lack of communication between advisors and students led to errors regarding what was required of students to meet the program’s outline. Some were unable to meet the grade requirements, took the wrong classes or did not complete their applications.
Following the mounting issues that came from variables such as administrative oversight and student error, a change to the 2+2 program was prompted in the fall of 2019.
In a newly-revised agreement signed on Monday, Jan. 20, 2020 by Joanna Millunchick, the associate dean for undergraduate education for CoE, and Susan Gano-Philips, the dean of CAS at UM-Flint, the 2+2 program was made much clearer.
Whereas the previous program’s language stated there was a “guaranteed” admittance, the new program instead says UM-Flint students have “preferential admission” into CoE.
“What that means is that if anyone … from UM-Flint who applies is going to get a preferential admission over anyone from any other school. So, for example … if there’s one seat remaining and there’s 10 applicants and there’s a UM-Flint applicant there, they get that seat,” said Chris Pearson, an associate dean of CAS.
The new agreement, simply called a Memorandum of Understanding, also stipulates that clear lines of communication between students, CAS advisors and CoE advisors will be established.
Some course and grade requirements were also reworked while others were maintained. Students will still need to maintain a C or higher grade for classes that are transferred to CoE, and any pass/fail classes will not be accepted. AP credits CAS students have at UM-Flint will have to match Ann Arbor’s AP requirements if those credits are to transfer.
Additionally, 16 credits worth of classes must be taken in the humanities and any other liberal arts to graduate from CoE, but are not required for admittance (however, students are encouraged to take them at UM-Flint). Three of those credits must come from the humanities and at least three credits must come from a 300 level or higher class.
The GPA requirement to be eligible for the preferential admissions program is now much clearer. It simply states all applicants must earn a minimum 3.0 GPA in required courses.
Finally, an “effective date” was set for the program, which will continue for five years starting on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020 or if the agreement is terminated by either side.
“The whole point of the program is to provide opportunities for students to go to Ann Arbor that would likely not be able to have that opportunity … and to do that in the best way we can,” said Pearson.