Resources every CAS student should know about

It’s time to get back into the routine of attending classes, writing papers, running your student organization, and countless other tasks that come with the fall semester. Luckily, you don’t have to go it alone. As a student in the College of Arts & Sciences, you have plenty of resources to help you have a great fall semester.

Keep reading to see some of the best ways you can stay on track in the 2019-20 academic year.

You Have a Support Hub.

No matter your major, there is a dedicated team of administrative professionals available to support you. They are available Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., to answer your questions and point you in the right direction.

If your major is…Economics; History; Music; Political Science; Theatre/Dance
Your support team is located in 220 French Hall. Click for more information.

If your major is…Africana Studies; English; Foreign Language; Philosophy, Psychology; Sociology/Anthropology/Criminal Justice...
Your support team is located in 326 French Hall. Click for more information.

If your major is…Computer Science/Information Systems; Engineering; Physics; Math…
Your support team is located in 212 Murchie Science Building. Click for more information.

If your major is…Art; Biology; Chemistry; Communication; Geography, Planning & Environment; Bachelor of Applied Science…
Your support team is located in 264 MSB. Click for more information.

For Academic Standards Petitions.

If you have a petition for the Academic Standards Committee, or a petition to readmit, visit the CAS Dean’s Office in 517 French Hall.

Also, if you’re just not sure where a question should be directed, the CAS Dean’s Office is open to you Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Stop by or call 810.762.3234.

Academic Advising.

With professional Academic Advisors and faculty who are invested in your success, CAS has an extensive advising network to help ensure you are on the right track. Contact your support hub to identify the best option to meet your particular advising needs.

Tutoring/Supplemental Instruction.

The Student Success Center has a variety of individual tutoring and group Supplemental Instruction courses to help you during a challenging course. Contact them at 810.762.3085 or studentsuccess@umich.edu to learn more.

Stay Connected with CAS.

See what CAS professors, graduates, and fellow students are up to on social media. Follow the College of Arts & Sciences on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


Research opportunities as an undergrad? Hana Fantin and Dr. Duriancik.

Are you getting enough Vitamin A in your diet? Most Americans are not Vitamin A deficient overall, but Assistant Professor of Biology David Duriancik and students like senior Hana Fantin are exploring how the aging process may affect Vitamin A levels in important immune cells across the human body.

Hana spent her summer as a SURE (Summer Undergraduate Research Experience) fellow. The program offers paid research opportunities for UM-Flint undergraduates. SURE not only provides important experiences and resume-building activities, but it can also replace the need for a summer job for many students.

Working under Dr. Duriancik has been important for Hana, who is a pre-veterinary student and is beginning the process of applying for veterinary school. If not for this research experience, Hana believes she wouldn’t have developed the level of technical skill she has now or been able to ask for an in-depth letter of recommendation. The experience in undergraduate research and SURE fellowship allowed Hana to continue working on professional skills that will translate to any career including veterinary medicine. One example was the opportunity to present her work at Michigan Physiological Society Meeting.

“These research experiences allow students to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills that translate to their future professions in a meaningful way,” Duriancik says. “I like working with young adults and seeing their excitement when something works and providing some guidance when things don’t work as expected.”


Pronounced like straw-six, STRA6 is a Vitamin A transport protein expressed by all human immune cells; it provides the mechanism that allows Vitamin A to move across those cells. Preliminary data show that the aging process may decrease the expression of STRA6, which can lead to health complications.

To further understand this process, Hana and Dr. Duriancik have been investigating where exactly STRA6 binds in the cell. The hypothesis was that STRA6 would bind with lipid rafts in the cell membrane; it does not.

The next step is to discover exactly where STRA6 binds in immune cells. Hana has been creating holo-retinol-binding protein (which Vitamin A travels in the blood bound to) ligand to help discover where STRA6 binds in human immune cells.

“If we can figure out how to get STRA6 expression on these aged cells, then we may be able to overcome some of that impairment in immune function,” Duriancik explains. “This can apply to other disease conditions associated with chronic inflammatory states, like obesity, autoimmune diseases, and even could play a role in informing vaccine strategies.”

To learn more

Students can learn more about becoming a SURE fellow online. You can also see more about the work being done in the Department of Biology.


English Prof Kazuko Hiramatsu earns NSF grant to study teaching methods in linguistics

Kazuko Hiramatsu is an Associate Professor of Linguistics in the Department of English.

For Associate Professor Kazuko Hiramatsu, it isn’t enough to be an expert in her chosen field of linguistics. She seeks to constantly improve her teaching methods, and wants to help fellow linguistics professors become better educators as well. A grant from the National Science Foundation will help her to create a community of like-minded scholars dedicated to improving the ways in which linguistics is taught to students.

The $67,000 NSF grant, awarded through the Linguistic Society of America, supports Hiramatsu and co-principal investigator Michal Temkin Martinez of Boise State University in creating a year-long Faculty Learning Community (FLC). The group of 12 professors from across the country will focus on the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning (SoTL) in linguistics. Each participant will explore a particular issue they encounter in teaching the subject; no topics have been selected yet, but there are myriad challenges available to study. For example, how is phonetics, the study of speech sounds, best presented in an online class? And how can you best teach syntactic trees, a very visual concept, to visually impaired students?

One possible topic for the Faculty Learning Community to explore is how best to present syntactic trees like this to visually impaired students.

Hiramatsu first became interested in the benefits of FLCs when she participated in an FLC focused on service learning offered through UM-Flint’s own Thompson Center for Teaching & Learning.

“We set the agenda together; we are equal participants in learning from one another. I love that it’s not hierarchical and not structured around committees,” Hiramatsu says. “Through this FLC, we can become ambassadors, in a sense, for our field. I’ve realized the importance of sharing my learning beyond just my own institution. We could help others rethink what they are doing in the classroom.”

Hiramatsu and her colleagues will meet virtually every two weeks to discuss their work, with two in-person workshops. In the first half of the year, the learning community will study existing scholarship on teaching and learning. The second half of the year will be devoted to projects focused on the individual classrooms of participants. Not only will the group discuss their findings among themselves, but they will also create materials to share with the wider linguistics community, helping to advance teaching methods in both K-12 and higher education.

It’s the kind of work that’s perfectly suited for a UM-Flint professor; directly benefitting local students while having a positive impact worldwide.

“We pride ourselves in being teacher-scholars at UM-Flint, and Dr. Hiramatsu’s work in creating this Faculty Learning Community exemplifies those values,” Susan Gano-Phillips, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, explains. “I look forward to the advances made during this project being implemented both here on campus and in schools worldwide.”

Interested in learning more about Linguistics?

Interested in learning more about the scientific study of language? Consider the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) certificate. In just 15 credits, you’ll be prepared to teach English across the world.

Courses in linguistics being offered Winter 2020:

Introduction to Linguistics
The Structure of English
Language & Culture
American English


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.


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!


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


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.


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.


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.


Shayne Mishler: MPA in Educational Administration Alumnus

Shayne Mishler earned his MPA in Educational Administration (WebPlus) in 2018. The program offers certified educators a path toward a School Administrator Certificate. Built with working professionals in mind, the program provides a flexible, part-time format (over two years, 36 credits) that blends online coursework with monthly classes on the UM-Flint campus the second Saturday of each month.

Read on to see what Shayne had to say about his experiences earning a MPA in Educational Administration from UM-Flint.

What was your motivation for enrolling in the WebPlus Program?

The program was recommended to me by administrative colleagues that previously obtained this master’s degree for an administrative position.  The WebPlus program was enticing because of the mixed mode style of learning. Being the Athletic Director of a district, the time spent at events can be overwhelming.  This program allowed for me to have face to face interaction with professors and peers once a month, and work independently from my office to work on graduate course work.

What has your path been since completing your degree?

I was previously the district Dean of Students for the Montrose Community Schools middle and high schools, but have transitioned to the Assistant Principal/Athletic Director of the Hill McCloy High School.  I continue to run athletics for the district, and have also taken on the duties of being the ALICE Trainer for my district, Emergency Operations Administrator and Security Advisor.

What sorts of experiences were the most meaningful for you during your studies?

Meeting each month with our professors and colleagues was far and away the best part of the program. Developing relationships, partnerships, and friendships that have continued after graduation with peers from many different types of educators. Each course offered its own unique view of educational administration. The program evaluation experience has provided the most concrete change in my district. The research, review and modifications to my program review have enhanced and energized the district’s CTE programming. The design and implementation was built upon week by week allowing for small incremental moves that revealed great results by the end of the school year. Sharing our thoughts, feelings and ideas with each other, and supporting one another through tough situations made the course work more than graduate work, but working on life together. Each and every professor gave of themselves in class, on Blackboard, and through emails and phone calls to provide the best advice or answer they could during the process. 

Would you recommend that your fellow educators enroll in the WebPlus program?

I would absolutely recommend the WebPlus program for graduate work.  Coming into the program, I thought back to my other degrees and the experiences that I had during undergraduate and master’s work previously. The first day of classes, I felt like I was being treated as a professional that was bringing my experiences with me to add to the course. The materials and course work were robust, but not overwhelming.  Setting timetables and managing weekly assignments was advised and provided structure. The old saying is, “You will only get out of it what you put into it!”, and that is so true. I absolutely enjoyed every time we got together as an entire group. A wealth of knowledge and experiences being able to share and compare. 

Ultimately, this degree is educationally specific, but is diverse enough for me to apply it towards a career beyond my time in education. I was able to take advantage of the library on main campus and celebrate graduation in the “Big House” with the other graduates from the University of Michigan. I was supremely blessed to share this experience with my peers and continue working with the students in my district.

Ready to take the next step? The application is available online. If you’d like to learn more, contact the program director, Dr. Patrick O’Donnell, at padonnel@umich.edu or 810.766.6628.


Jason Leppelmeier: From Philosophy Undergrad to Data Engineer with the MS in Computer Science & Information Systems

Jason Leppelmeier earned his MS in Computer Science & Information Systems in April 2019

Jason Leppelmeier only applied to one program when he was ready to earn his master’s degree—The MS in Computer Science & Information Systems at the University of Michigan-Flint.

Two factors stood out to Jason when he was making a decision:

  • He could to complete his coursework online or in-person, which was important since he often traveled for work.
  • The UM-Flint program offers a “fast track” option for learners who don’t have a Computer Science/Information Systems bachelor’s degree.

Jason originally studied philosophy, with designs on philosophy graduate school. But, as Jason relates, “life happened” and he worked on factory floors for several years after graduating. He knew that a master’s degree would help him grow in his career, and Jason was able to complete the UM-Flint MS in Computer Science & Information Systems while working full-time servicing scientific laboratory equipment around the country.

Cyber Classrooms record every lecture and allow distance learners to get the full classroom experience.

“Since Computer Science courses are offered both for distance-learners and on-campus students, I liked that I could tell prospective employers that I did exactly the work remotely as on-campus students,” Jason says.

Jason earned his master’s in April 2019, but he took the next step in his career before even finishing his degree. In November 2018, Jason started as a Data Engineer at Aunalytics, a data consulting firm based in South Bend, Indiana. He develops data pipelines that are used in AI and machine learning systems. His experience with the MS in Computer Science & Information Systems was instrumental in gaining this position.

“When I started interviewing in industry, employers were most concerned with my understanding the fundamentals and the deeper theory behind them,” Jason says. “If I could show that I had some experience with applying my learning, they felt like I’d be able to do that with their systems.”

Jason had plenty of opportunities for applied learning while completing his master’s. In his artificial intelligence class, Jason developed a speech recognition system for Arabic digits which was 94% accurate. In a data mining course, Jason developed a system which could identify whether the sentiments of a tweet toward an organization are positive or negative. Professors that are available for questions and brainstorming—like Dr. Michael Farmer in artificial intelligence and Dr. Halil Bisgin in data mining—were invaluable resources for Jason.  

“In interviews, the first thing employers wanted to know was about what projects I completed and what my role was, so having professors that can guide you was very important,” Jason says. “The class sizes and accessibility of professors were always positive things for me. I was surprised at how much my professors were willing to help.”

Interested in getting started on your own path to success? The application for the MS in Computer Science & Information Systems is available online. You can also contact the Program Manager, Susie Churchill, at vissers@umich.edu or 810.762.0916.