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UM president on competing with Silicon Valley, solutions to state’s infrastructure woes

University of Michigan president Mark Schlissel
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
UM President Dr. Mark Schlissel says he wants university research to inform the state's legislative priorities and address longterm societal needs.

The Mackinac Island Policy Conference wraps up today. One of the people who spent some time on the island this week was University of Michigan President Dr. Mark Schlissel.

Stateside's Lester Graham spoke with Schlissel about what he wanted to get out of his time there, as well as the role of higher education in addressing statewide legislative priorities.

In line with Governor Rick Snyder’s focus on infrastructure this year, the University Research Corridor  —made up of UM, Michigan State, and Wayne State Universities — released a report ahead of the conference. It focused on institutional contributions to four major infrastructure priorities: water, mobility, energy, and communications.

Collectively, the consortium has conducted $1.64 billion in research to address issues ranging from water erosion around the Great Lakes, to autonomous mobility, to industry transitions from fossil fuels to cleaner energy options.   

Schlissel told Stateside one of the consortium’s goals is to ensure that Michigan – not Silicon Valley - remains the capital of innovation  in human mobility. He said the group aims to provide pragmatic research that addresses long-term societal needs.

While research and public policy may operate on “different timelines,” Schlissel said he is confident that his participation at Mackinac this week strengthens the consortium’s partnerships and research. It also helps him do better work as the “leader of a public university designed to serve the public,” Schlissel added. 

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