UM President Schlissel: "Athletics Isn't Part of Our Mission Statement"

Submitted by sadeto on July 18th, 2014 at 6:16 PM

Interesting article on UM's new president and his perspective on the role of athletics in the university's culture. He didn't have an opinion on the fireworks: 





July 19th, 2014 at 12:12 AM ^

Athletics are part of the very DNA of Michigan.  If that surprises and puzzles you as a University President, you may be better off somewhere else.

Just like the culture of religion is part of Notre Dame, and the military culture is part of Texas A&M.  If those things are alien to you, you may be better off not going to those places.  Because its not going to change just because you showed up.  (And you probably should have resaerched that a little before you took the job.)


Lucky Socks

July 18th, 2014 at 7:41 PM ^

I'm cool with it not being a part of our mission statement, but it sure as hell better be a priority. Part of what keeps the largest living alumni base in the world engaged is our athletics.  I want them to be competitive, and I want them to compete on the largest scale (Power 5 if it comes to that).  




July 19th, 2014 at 1:46 AM ^

Where does the "largest living alumni base" stat come from?  I've heard this before, but I'm not sure how we get that distinction when other universities enroll (and presumably graduate) more students year in and year out.  Is it an alumni club membership thing?  Do Michigan Men substantially outlive the rest of the population?

Anybody know what this is about?

Lucky Socks

July 19th, 2014 at 7:13 AM ^

I can't answer your question with hard evidence (and am too lazy to look it up), but I'm pretty sure it is a fact.  Tons of undergrads + medical school, dental school, other grad schools.  And I know it's a goal of UofM to enroll grad students from other institutions (thus producing a "new" alumnus and not just a milion multiple degree Wolverines).  Like I said, I didn't look up the stats but I do think the sheer volume of UofM undergrads and our ability to attract grad studenst from elsewhere makes it very realistic.

Mostly I just wanted to remind everyone of the Kris Frost quote (former LB recruit) -  "They have the largest living alumni base in the world.  Well except for the University of Phoenix, but that doesn't really count."


July 19th, 2014 at 10:21 AM ^

Michigan claims more than 540,000 living alumni while PSU claims more than 631,000.  PSU graduates 18,000+ a year these days compared to many less for Michigan (I can't find a number, but know it's about 6,000 undergrads and presumably around 5,000 graduate students), so based on that PSU would have actually passed Michigan around 15 years ago.


July 18th, 2014 at 6:33 PM ^

I like how he spoke and his general attitude. I may be reading way too much into it, and I'm sure that his thoughts will evolve, but I could see him being an advocate for going back to a less-commercialized, more traditional game-day experience. I also think that he will continue the tradition of emphasizing education, rather than treating athletes as adjuncts to the University.



July 19th, 2014 at 7:37 AM ^

I'd venture to say that for the former he will and the latter he won't. As Brian tweeted, the fireworks business was a calculated effort by the regents. They seem to do everything behind closed doors, yet took the opportunity to come after Brandon publicly -- at Schllisel's first meeting as Pres. nonetheless.

French West Indian

July 18th, 2014 at 6:37 PM ^

Maybe my dream will come true:  joining the Ivy League!  Or at least it's midwest equivalent. 

There's really no point in competing with the likes of the SEC anymore trying to buy top-tier talent.  It sounds promising that Schlissel is already setting the stage for the future.


July 18th, 2014 at 6:37 PM ^

The university's mission is to be the leading learning and research institution.

Athletics is a nice to have. It should never ever be a priority.

If it becomes a professional sport, the university should not get involved and take the University of Chicago route.


July 18th, 2014 at 8:13 PM ^

a $4m center for athletes to study, get help in as we speak. It also emphasis on post college job placement for athletes. Like it or not some of our best athletes are absolutely embarrassing personality wise as is at any school and nobody would hire some of them due to communication skills. I won't name drop on them. My cousin was a team manager in bball, thought about going into coaching but opted to go into education and hopes to work there after he's done with graduate school. If anything they want to improve our athletes image with this facility.


July 18th, 2014 at 6:39 PM ^

Can we get people in charge that arent one extreme or the other? I realize a University's priotrity should be learning, but athletics at the school with the most big ten titles of all time are pretty damn important.

Everyone Murders

July 18th, 2014 at 6:41 PM ^

Thanks to the OP for posting this.  I think Schlissel has a more balanced view than the thread title implies, though.  Here's the entire "mission statement" quote:

"What I want to be sure of is that athletics exist in an appropriate balance with everything else the university does. Athletics isn't part of the mission statement of the university. We're an academic institution, so I want to work on the appropriate balance between athletics and academics," he said.

This statement shows a sense of proportion that I want our university's leader to have.  So far, so good.  (I like MSC too, and most of the Presidents of recent memory apart from Lee Bollinger.)


July 18th, 2014 at 7:12 PM ^

I also found his approach to the situation rather reassuring, and I especially liked how he seemed to want the input and to gauge the feelings of many people on the issue before really deciding anything. One thing that I thought was very notable is that he asserted his authority among the other statements, which I found rather significant even if it seemed to be done in passing. My hope is that this means there will be some good discussion on establishing the balance that he seeks.