When Debasish Dutta became chancellor of the University of Michigan-Flint in 2019, his first goal was to tackle enrollment, retention and graduation. He lobbied the University of Michigan to provide UM-Flint with the tools to attack this issue. As a result of his leadership, UM-Flint now has access to a pool of $20 million to hire additional recruiters and academic advisers to help students complete their studies and graduate from UM-Flint.
Additionally, he convened a Recruitment, Retention, and Graduation task force to chart a three-year path forward in this area, ensuring that it remains a primary focus for the university. Additionally, Dr. Dutta, who was formerly the chief diversity officer at Purdue University, recognized there was a need to address diversity, equity and inclusion at UM-Flint. He convened the university’s first Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) committee and tasked members with creating a strategic plan to tackle areas where the university was internally and externally falling short. This plan included feedback not only from students, faculty and staff, but also from community leaders in the DEI area.
Dr. Dutta sees the promise of UM-Flint and what Flint can offer to its students. He, with the support of the University of Michigan Board of Regents, is creating the College of Innovation & Technology, which will fill the gap between vocational training and theoretical bachelor’s degree training in engineering and science when it launches next fall.
When COVID-19 harshly impacted the Flint area, Dr. Dutta’s thoughts were on not only the university, but also the greater community. Under his leadership, the university’s faculty and staff immediately pivoted to working remotely, and its students transitioned to online learning. Also, he provided a home for front-line medical professionals. Doctors and nurses were provided a place to stay at the First Street Residence Hall to relieve the stress of possibly exposing their loved ones to COVID-19.