Fall is almost upon us, and so it is time for the next edition of my University of Michigan class, “Urban-Focused Entrepreneurship.” In this class, students learn to create a for-profit business model to solve an important urban problem. The process begins with students engaging an urban community and its residents and leaders to identify a problem-solving opportunity. Students will continue to engage the community to determine and validate an important problem, and will work further with the community in order to test and validate their solutions. For many of the students, this is their first experience working with an urban community, and they almost always say that they come away richer from the experience.
This Fall, we will be connecting the students with community leaders and organizations who can help them identify community improvement opportunities, and who will be available for follow-up discussions and feedback. You can help make this an even more enriching experience for the students in one of two ways:
Suggest an organization that is immersed in an urban community who my students can contact and work with.
Suggest a community improvement opportunity, or “problem,” that you would like to see addressed in your own (urban) community.
You can send your suggestions in the comment section (below) or via e-mail to email@example.com. Stay tuned to this blog and to my Facebook (davidtarver) and Twitter (@davidtarver) streams. We’ll be providing brief updates and pictures throughout the coming academic season. If you are interested in attending our demo day at the end of the term, indicate this in the comments section.
I’m joining the team at Wayne State University, where the work will indeed be 24/7 and 365!
As of July 17, 2017, I have accepted a senior administrative position with Wayne State University (WSU) in Detroit, Michigan. The position is Senior Counselor to the Provost for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. In this role, I will provide guidance and overall strategic direction to the University in areas of innovation and entrepreneurship, and will administer initiatives designed to foster and enhance the campus-wide entrepreneurship ecosystem. This is a new position at Wayne State, and I will be responsible both to the university provost and the vice president of economic development.
I am excited about this new role at Wayne State because I am passionate about using the power of innovation and entrepreneurship to enhance the quality of life in cities. Wayne State’s urban location, together with its diverse student population, make it a unique and ideal place to identify important problems and foster the creation of sustainable, scalable solutions. I look forward to working with the talented students, faculty, and staff of Wayne State to facilitate a world-class environment of innovation and business creation.
I will continue to teach my course, “Urban-Focused Entrepreneurship,” at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. The next edition of that course will begin on September 6, 2017. In addition, I also intend to continue in my volunteer role as board president of the Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative (UEI), the organization I founded in 2014. Due to my responsibilities at WSU, we will be adding resources to UEI so that we can continue to execute and enhance our Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium and other programs. We will have more announcements on this front shortly.
Those who know of my history and ongoing association with The University of Michigan may be surprised that I would engage in so important a role with Wayne State. While I cherish my Wolverine heritage, I relish this opportunity to advance the mission at Wayne State, which is Michigan’s only urban research university. I intend that our work at WSU will provide a platform for others to engage in the revitalization and well-being of Detroit and other cities, and in that sense my work there will definitely be a win-win.
As a young person coming of age in the 1960s, I learned a smattering of black history in school. We studied, however briefly, black icons like Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, Harriet Tubman, and George Washington Carver. Though clearly important, these people often seemed frozen in amber, because my contemporaries and I were witnessing new history being made in the black struggle every year. The tumultuous 1960s inspired us to believe that we could make history, not merely study it. This year we find ourselves celebrating some heretofore unknown history makers: the women whose story is told in the movie Hidden Figures. We examine anew the themes of the 20th century black liberation struggle expressed by James Baldwin and retold in the movie I am Not your Negro. These stories inspire us, but they also challenge us to add our own chapters to the black history narrative.
Jim Spaniola and me at French Laundry Fenton, more than 45 years after our time in the Ceramic Circuits Lab.
More than forty-five years ago, I began my college education at General Motors Institute (now Kettering University) in Flint, Michigan. This was back in Flint’s glory days, when world-class industrial production as well as ground-breaking research took place right in the midst of the city. My co-op sponsor was the AC Spark Plug Division of General Motors. My first assignment at AC was in the Engineering Research Center, which was located at the corner of Averill Avenue and Davison Road. I felt lucky and excited to have what seemed like a plum first assignment.
It is hard to find the words to describe all that has transpired in 2016. I have so much to say, but where shall I begin? In many ways, for me and my family, 2016 brought many new accomplishments and blessings, but as we exit the year, I feel an enormous sense of foreboding and concern. I’ll have more to say about that later, in a different post.
I admire my friends who have written eloquent essays and family updates at the end of each year. I can’t match what they have done, so I’ve decided to share some pictures and just a few words to capture some of the highlights of my life in 2016. If you were connected to any of these happenings in any way, I thank you for sharing the journey. Here we go…
2015 was a year of anniversaries – some happy, some sad, some bittersweet. As each anniversary came and went this year, I made a mental note, but didn’t otherwise recognize it. Doing so distracted me from the flow of daily events, and besides that, it made me feel old. However, sitting here on the eve of the eve of a new year, I feel like collecting and recognizing these anniversaries. If you were a part of any of them, you know how special they were. Continue reading →
The University of Michigan College of Engineering is searching for a new Dean. The second and final term of the current dean, David Munson, ends next June, and the search for his successor is well underway. I am serving on the search committee, and we’ve received a lot of input from people in and around the College. As an alumni community search committee member, I’m interested in hearing as broad a range of opinions about the attributes the new dean should have. What do you think the priorities for the next dean should be? What attributes would you most like to see in the selected candidate? You can let me know by posting a comment here, or by sending me a private e-mail. In any case, I’d appreciate hearing from you.
It was hard to watch the images coming out of Baltimore last week. Seeing Freddy Gray’s life cut short, a man who was the same age as my own son, was tragic enough. The ensuing protests, the riot, the wall-to-wall media coverage, the talk about urban hopelessness, lack of opportunity, poor education – all of this was unsurprising, if not downright predictable. This is a story that is getting very old, about a situation for which solutions exist, solutions that are not even being attempted. That is precisely why the story is so hard to watch. Continue reading →
Anyone following my activities this past year knows that I have been consumed with the creation of something called the Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative. Ever since returning to my home state of Michigan in 2007, I have been struck by the need to connect the intellect and resources of our entrepreneur communities with the needs, passion, and insight of people in our urban communities. Continue reading →