Category Archives: education

Black History Month is About MAKING History, Not Just Studying History

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass, circa 1870

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.

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Unexpected Reunion with a Mentor

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.

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2016: A Personal Pictorial Review

2016: Another Year in the Can

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…

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2015: A Year of Anniversaries

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

New Dean for U-M College of Engineering: What’s Your Opinion?

u-m-coe-shirt

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.

Thanks!

The prescription for Baltimore: jobs

471381728-1500x1000It 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

The Urban Entrepreneurship Initiative takes a (HUGE) new step!

UEIlogo_withTag.colorAnyone 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

Free Ride to College!

Norma Richards, the author, with Jesse Jackson, the Reverend.

Norma Richards, the author, with Jesse Jackson, the Reverend.

“My kid just got a free ride to so-and-so university!”

I must admit, most times I’ve heard somebody say that, usually at a party or a backyard barbecue or other social gathering, I started seething inside. Why? because I think about the hundreds of thousands of dollars I’ve spent sending my kids to college. I can’t complain, though, because I could afford it, and because my kids had great college experiences. But still, there’s that nagging question: did I really have to spend all that money, or could they , both excellent students, have received scholarship support? If they had, that money I sent to their college could have instead purchased their first home! Continue reading

David Tarver named to U-M Electrical and Computer Engineering Council (ECEC)

Dr. Khalil Najafi, Chair, U-M Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Dr. Khalil Najafi, Chair, U-M Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

The purpose of the University of Michigan Electrical and Computer Engineering Council (ECEC) is to foster excellence in all areas of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) research and teaching, provide strategic guidance to ECE faculty and leadership, and strengthen relationships among ECE faculty, students, alumni and corporations, foundations, and government agencies with ECE-related interests. Continue reading