Faculty image James J. Duderstadt President Emeritus and University Professor of Science and Engineering University Administration

Dr. James J. Duderstadt was President of the University from 1988 to 1996.

Dr. Duderstadt received a B.Eng. in electrical engineering with highest honors from Yale University in 1964 and a M.S. and Ph.D. in engineering science and physics from the California Institute of Technology in 1967.  After a year as an Atomic Energy Commission Postdoctoral Fellow at Caltech, he joined the faculty of the University of Michigan in 1968 in the Department of Nuclear Engineering, rising through the ranks to full professor in 1975.  Dr. Duderstadt became Dean of the College of Engineering in 1981 and Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs in 1986.  He was elected President of the University of Michigan in 1988 and served in this role until 1996.  He currently holds a university-wide faculty appointment as University Professor of Science and Engineering, directing the Millennium Project, a research center exploring the impact of over-the-horizon technologies on society.

Dr. Duderstadt's teaching and research interests have spanned a wide range of subjects in science, mathematics, and engineering, including nuclear fission reactors, thermonuclear fusion, high-powered lasers, computer simulation, information technology, and policy development in areas such as energy, education, and science. He has published extensively in these areas, including over 20 books and 150 technical publications.

Dr. Duderstadt has served on or chaired numerous public and private boards including the National Science Board; numerous committees of the National Academies including its executive committee and the Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy; the National Commission on the Future of Higher Education; the Nuclear Energy Advisory Committee of the Department of Energy; and business organizations such as the Big Ten Athletic Conference, the University of Michigan Hospitals, Unisys, and CMS Energy.

He currently serves on several major national boards and study commissions in areas such as federal science policy, higher education, information technology, energy sciences, and national security including the NSF’s Advisory Committee on Cyberinfrastructure, the Glion Colloquium (Switzerland), and the Policy and Global Affairs Division of the National Academies. He also serves as a non-resident Senior Fellow of the Brookings Institution and on the advisory boards of several colleges and universities.

Millennium Project Website:  http://milproj.dc.umich.edu/





Students and faculty members tend to take the staff of a university pretty much for granted.  While they understand these are the people who keep the trains running on time, who provide them with the environment they need for teaching and research, most view staff as only the supporting cast for the real stars, the faculty.  When staff come to mind at all, it is usually as a source of complaints.  To many faculty members, service units such as the Plant Department, Purchasing, and Internal Audit are sometimes viewed as the enemy.

Yet, with each step up the ladder of academic administration, my wife and I came to appreciate more just how critical the staff was to both the functioning and the continuity of the university.  Throughout the university, whether at the level of secretaries, custodians, groundskeepers or the rarified heights of senior administrators for finance, hospital operations, or facilities construction and management, it became clear to us that the quality of the university’s staff, coupled with their commitment and dedication, was actually just as important as the faculty in making Michigan the remarkable institution it has become.  In some ways, even more so, since unlike many faculty members, who view their first responsibilities as to their discipline or perhaps their careers, most staff members are true professionals, deeply committed to the welfare of the university as their highest priority, many dedicating their entire careers to the institution.  Most staff members serve the university far longer than the faculty, who tend to be lured away by the marketplace. This was impressed upon me twice each year, when the president would host a banquet to honor staff with long-term service–20, 30, even 40 years.  In a very real sense, it is frequently the staff that provide through years of service the continuity of both the culture of the university and its commitment to excellence. Put another way, it is the staff, as much as the students, faculty, or alumni, who perpetuate the institutional saga of the university.

Beyond their skill, competence, and dedication to the university, there was also a remarkable spirit of teamwork among staff members. We found ourselves working with them not so much as supervisors but rather as colleagues, and in time we began to view our presidential roles as more akin to those of staff than faculty, in the sense that our first obligation was always to the welfare of the university rather than to our academic discipline or professional career.

While intensely loyal to the university, staff also require pastoral care from the president, particularly during difficult times such as budget cuts–sometimes involving layoffs–or campus unrest. Anne and I always gave the highest priority to events that demonstrated the importance of staff to the university and our strong support for their efforts. Whenever launching a major strategic effort, such as the Michigan Mandate or the Michigan Agenda for women, I would meet with numerous staff groups throughout the university to explain the effort and seek their advice and counsel. We made it a point to attend or host staff receptions, for example, to honor a retiring staff member or celebrate an important achievement. And, while we understood the central role of faculty in determining the quality of academic programs, we felt it was important that the president always be seen, in word and in deed, as committed to the welfare of the entire university community–students, faculty, and staff–in a balanced sense.



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