07/29/19

Ashley McCloskey went from a dance undergraduate to a fundraising professional with the MA in Arts Administration.

Ashley McCloskey was in the final year of her undergraduate dance program when a summer residency in New York City helped her decide that pursuing dance as a career wasn’t the right path for her future.  

As she finished her bachelor’s degree, Ashley’s professors pointed her in the direction of arts administration, a field in which she could integrate her knowledge of the performing arts with her organizational and interpersonal skills.  

An advertisement for the MA in Arts Administration program at UM-Flint prompted Ashley (who was living in Ann Arbor) to visit campus. A conversation with faculty made it clear that this was the right program for her, and Ashley began taking courses while working full-time at a brokerage firm. Classes were held at night on campus, and the flexibility of part-time enrollment meant that she could continue working while earning her degree.

“I liked that all of my professors were actually working in the field, not just teaching in a classroom,” Ashley explains. She points to a grant writing class taught by the former executive director for the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs John Bracey as a prime example of the practical instruction she received as a UM-Flint Arts Administration student.

It was Ashley’s last class in the program that truly set her down her current path. ADM 510: Fundraising and Planned Giving opened Ashley’s eyes to the world of non-profit development. Her job at the brokerage firm meant she was knowledgeable about many of the financial intricacies that go hand-in-hand with charitable giving. For Ashley, it became clear where her skills were best suited.  

After earning her master’s degree from UM-Flint, Ashley took a position as the Assistant Director of Annual Giving at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens & Nichols Arboretum in Ann Arbor. She has since become a major gifts officer for the Ross School of Business, meeting with potential donors to help advance the school’s mission.

The transitions from the performing arts, to a botanical garden, to business school development may seem drastic, but Ashley believes there are more similarities than differences, and that the skills she gained from the MA in Arts Administration program have translated in each step of her career.

“Yes, there are a lot of differences—my offices are different, the people I meet with are different. But they are all trying to make the world a better place, just using different avenues. That is what I am passionate about.”

When looking back on her experience at UM-Flint, Ashley acknowledges that working full-time in Ann Arbor and taking courses in Flint took some sacrifices, but they were well worth making.

“Whatever is important to you, you have to find time for it. I knew I had something more to offer the world, and UM-Flint helped to do that,” Ashley says.

Interested in learning more about the MA in Arts Administration? The program director, Nicole Broughton, can be contacted at broughn@umich.edu. You can also access the application online.

07/23/19

Notes from the Dean: Summer 2019

Hello, Alumni and Friends of CAS!

I hope you are having a wonderful summer! The College has remained a hub of activity this season, with preview days for prospective students, orientation for new students, building renovations and projects underway, and ongoing coursework, internships and research experiences across our many departments and programs.

In late June we received the notable announcement of our new Chancellor-elect Dr. Debasish Dutta, who will serve as the eighth chancellor of UM-Flint effective August 1, 2019. In my early conversations with Dr. Dutta, I have been heartened by his clear commitment to the mission of UM-Flint and his passion for providing the highest quality programs for our students. I look forward to working with Dr. Dutta to advance CAS and the University of Michigan-Flint and you will certainly hear more about this in the future.

Along with a new chancellor, summer also brings us many new students. Summer orientations allow us to meet the newest scholars and families in the CAS community. CAS faculty, advisors, and staff come together on these days to welcome these future alumni, connect them with resources, and help set their first course schedules at UM-Flint.

While these students prepare for their studies, we continue our efforts to ensure they are provided with the best service and education. As just one example, I recently returned from a 7-day trip to Germany to strengthen our partnerships with two Universities – Bergische Universität Wuppertal and the University of Greifswald, where students participate in international research exchanges, internships in industry, and comparative teaching practice. I had the good fortune to meet and interact with 11 UM-Flint students who were spending their summer in Germany and they were definitely soaking in the opportunities to learn about new cultures. This summer saw a group of UM-Flint pre-service teachers visit Greifswald and the coming year will bring additional German students and faculty to UM-Flint for conferences and study.

In May, construction began in earnest on our long-awaited addition to the Murchie Science Building. While the construction has certainly altered pedestrian and automobile traffic on the East side of campus, closing the circle drive between the Recreation Center, the University Center, and the Murchie Science Building for the duration of the project, we cannot wait to see the building materialize. We are already planning for innovative teaching and learning opportunities that the new facilities will provide. We are slated to occupy the building in the next 15-16 months, with classes expected to be scheduled there beginning in January 2020.

As we look forward, Go Blue on the Bricks takes place on Friday, August 16, from 6-9 p.m. on the University Tower patio (formerly the First Merit Bank building) during the Back to the Bricks Cruise ‘n’ Concert. I will certainly be in attendance and look forward to seeing you at this celebration of the Maize and Blue and our city of Flint.

Have a great rest of your summer, and thank you for your continued support of the College of Arts & Sciences!

Sincerely,

Susan Gano-Phillips
Dean, UM-Flint College of Arts & Sciences

07/15/19

Three Things Michelle Wieland Values About Her Experience with the MA in Liberal Studies

In Fall 2018, Michelle Wieland earned her MA in Liberal Studies from the University of Michigan Flint. A resident of Fort Wayne, Indiana, Michelle was looking for a liberal studies program that could help her explore and understand the society in which we live. In her thesis, Michelle provides an analysis of disparities present in American culture, particularly through the lenses of race and gender. It was a transformational experience for a life-long learner like Michelle, who credits her experience “with a change of perspective on life.”

Here are three reasons Michelle values the MA in Liberal Studies at UM-Flint.

The online courses were both rigorous and meaningful.

Michelle is quick to point out that taking courses online brought out the best in her.

“Online discussions made you grow because your writing had to be clear and concise. Being able to read and consider your classmates’ thoughts is also invaluable. I was a bit scared at first, because your writing is open for your peers to comment on, but I loved it because it felt like everyone brought their best every time.”

The professors provided guidance and support.

Michelle explains that faculty in the program talk about the thesis paper from the very beginning. That was a bit unnerving for her, since there were so many possible topics to explore! However, completing the core classes helped solidify her ideas and her professors helped each step of the way.

“I was so inspired by how professors could provide us with information, ask us to think about it in different ways, and then be interested in what we had to say,” Michelle says. “I realized I’ve got this great support system; they would provide gentle corrections and solid guidance.”

The program helped change her perspective on life.

“Prior to the Liberal Studies program, I spent a lot of time just believing what I had been taught and I was raising my family teaching them the same things,” Michelle says. “These classes really helped to open my eyes to see an entirely different way of considering our world. Electives like Women in Work allowed me to peel back the layers of our society and consider that information with the foundation set by the core classes.”

Interested in having transformative experiences like Michelle did in the MA in Liberal Studies program? The application is available online. The program director, Dr. Jan Furman, can be contacted at jfurman@umich.edu.

07/10/19

Scholarship and support: Arahshiel Silver’s experience with the MA in Liberal Studies

After finishing a bachelor’s degree in history “better late than never,” Arahshiel Silver knew she wanted to continue her education and began looking for a master’s program that fit her needs. She considered many factors when choosing a program, but most importantly, she was looking for the flexibility to pursue the research that motivated her. The Liberal Studies (MA) in American Culture program at UM-Flint proved to be the perfect opportunity for Arahshiel to explore her interests.

Arahshiel liked the fact that the program was offered through the University of Michigan Rackham School of Graduate Studies. She liked that, as a non-traditional student working full-time, she could take her courses online.  Most of all, she liked that she was encouraged to carve her own niche and add to our shared understanding of the world.

“I went to my professors at one point during my thesis process, and said that sometimes I don’t feel like my thesis is contributing anything,” Arahshiel explains. “They said that if I am generating new knowledge and putting something out there that hasn’t been done before, then that’s what matters.”

Professors like program director Dr. Jan Furman work with Liberal Studies students to ensure the program is meeting their needs and helping to achieve their goals.

 Arahshiel focused on the anxieties America felt in the 1960s as a result of the rapid technological and scientific progress that had been made in that time. Her approach and choice of topic were informed by the broad variety of courses the program allowed her to take. She points to a children’s literature course and another that explored American television as influences on what her research would become.

“I got to study an assortment of courses, and that interdisciplinarity is so important to me,” Arahshiel says. “The professors really care about their students, and it was so clear that they were very passionate about the content of every class.”

Even outside of standard coursework, a supportive community was there to help Arahshiel achieve her goals. With financial assistance from the CAS Opportunity Fund, she was able to travel to the National Library of Medicine to study the work of scientist John B. Calhoun.

Since earning her master’s degree from UM-Flint, Arahshiel has been working as a Student Records Specialist for Rackham in Ann Arbor, assisting other graduate students to have opportunities and experiences like those that helped her grow. “I love doing research, but I’m also passionate about helping others in their work and solving problems in education,” Arahshiel says.

If you’d like to learn more about where the MA in Liberal Sudies can take you, we are here to help. The program director, Dr. Jan Furman, can be reached at jfurman@umich.edu. The application is also available online.

07/8/19

Mackenzie Thrower found his ‘why’ with the MA in Social Sciences

Mackenzie Thrower (’14, MA ’17) finds fulfillment every day in his work as the Nutrition Program Manager for the Crim Fitness Foundation. He didn’t always plan on serving the community through food education and programming; he thought he would join the military and work in the State Department. Mackenzie’s interest in nutrition education started with a chance discovery in a graduate economics course at the University of Michigan-Flint.

While earning his MA in Social Sciences, Mackenzie took Dr. Adam Lutzker’s course ECN 566: The Global Economy. Tasked with exploring a particular sector of the economy, Mackenzie chose food & agriculture. It wasn’t long before he saw the implications of food issues in almost everything he studied. In a sociology class dealing with equity, concepts like food justice spurred his interest.

We talked about how the Black Panthers had a program for food access. I found that interesting. I started realizing how entrenched food is with power,” Mackenzie says.

After completing his master’s coursework, Mackenzie began work with the national non-profit Food Corps, embedded in the Crim Fitness Foundation. Thanks to that experience and the problem-solving abilities nurtured during his UM-Flint education, Mackenzie was offered a full-time position and eventual promotion with the foundation.

Mackenzie teaching a cooking class at the Flint Farmers Market.

Mackenzie sees the interdisciplinary education found in programs like the MA in Social Sciences as invaluable in both his professional and personal life.  “The program draws on sociology, international relations, history … it spans many traditional disciplines that contribute to a well-rounded professional,” he says.

Mackenzie developed that mindset as a UM-Flint undergraduate, selecting the interdisciplinary major of Spanish and International Studies.

“Having a broad education allows me to engage clinicians, community members, government officials … I’m never going to work with just one discipline, so I need to be able to speak to many different subjects.”

In his position at the Crim Fitness Foundation, Mackenzie oversees the food education and programming for close to 20 Flint-area schools. He encourages his coordinators to be accessible role models for students, setting an example to be active with the process of growing and cooking healthy foods. He thinks accessible educators and mentors with whom you can build a relationship are crucial, and he found that during his time at UM-Flint.

The relationship I had with my professors is honestly one of the biggest draws of the program,” Mackenzie says. “You’re on a first-name basis with your professors, I could drop by Adam’s office today and talk with him for a half-hour. You don’t get that at many institutions.”

Mackenzie found an experience at UM-Flint that allowed him to explore complex issues through the powerful lens of the arts & sciences. Because of the university’s community-centeredness, he was able to take his learning into practice, and found a career that nourishes his commitment to positive social change. UM-Flint contributed not only his professional toolkit but also his professional desire. In his words, “I found my ‘why,’ and that’s what motivates me each day to see changes through in the long term.”

Interested in learning more about the MA in Social Sciences? The program director, Dr. Adam Lutzker, can be reached at alutzker@umich.edu. You can also start your application online.