The reasoning behind the Strategic Transformation plan

Eleni Batsios, Editor-in-chief

FLINT, MI – UM-Flint is implementing a Strategic Transformation Plan which hopes to combat low graduation rates and increase the university’s relevance.


The goal of the STP has been stated many times across town halls and meetings: the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor wants UM-Flint to be programmatically relevant and financially viable long into the future. But what is the context behind this?


UM-Flint has been facing low student rates for some time now. “Over seven years, we have lost 30.2% of our students. Associated with that is a significant decline in revenue,” says Chancellor Dutta. “In addition to that our graduation rates are the lowest among the fifteen public universities.”


“If you put that all together, this is a serious situation,” says Dutta. 


According to Joe Vainner, director of admissions, cost and employability are becoming more of a deciding factor for graduating high school seniors. “When they’re thinking of which college they go to, they want a college that offers majors with high employability,” says Vainner. This means that there are fewer students going for liberal arts degrees that have less visible career paths.


To combat this trend, UM-Flint is implementing the STP. In an email from the Office of the Chancellor, Dutta said the process is necessary for UM-Flint to develop and implement a plan that positions the university toward a sustainable future with academic strength and financial viability.  Additionally, Additionally, the initiative will allow the university to be better prepared to withstand the disruptive cycles of higher education changes in Michigan. 


High school graduation rates are dropping, which means that enrollment in universities is dropping. 


According to Dutta, “You have more public universities than there is a need for. So we have to think ahead before anyone else does the thinking for us,” said Dutta. 


Dutta plans to get ahead before other universities can. “I’d like to think that we address this issue proactively, hopefully before our competitors do,” says Dutta. “But, I’m not so sure, I think the competitors are thinking the same.”


Above all, UM-Flint and Dutta are thinking of the students. “I think it is incumbent upon us to take hold of our situation and our future for ourselves and create a plan,” says Dutta. “It is our responsibility to the future generation of students. Why does a university exist in the first place? It’s for the students.”