2022 in Review: Public Engagement & Impact

Announced in 2016, the Public Engagement & Impact Initiative was established to create a university-wide plan, and encourage a cross-campus commitment, to the strategic elevation of U-M faculty research, expertise, and community engagement work. Through popular programming like the Michigan Minds podcast, the visual exploration of presidential priorities, the creation of a robust network of partnership spanning 19 schools and colleges and the Michigan Medicine system, staff within the Office of the Vice President for Communication have remained committed to identifying more diverse and inclusive stories of impact, leveraging the immense value and wide array of research, scholarship, and community engagement. With hundreds of annual interviews and thousands of yearly posts, like our 200-year-old legacy, the foundation of the University of Michigan’s award-winning social media strategy is rooted in a shared effort to enhance the public good through increasing access to education. In 2022, the results of this work garnered over 592,000 opens and more than 14,000 link clicks to U-M research and stories through the Michigan Impact newsletter, and prompted nearly 44,000 listens of timely faculty expertise on matters of societal concern through the Michigan Minds podcast. 

Below are some of our highlights from 2022: 

Michigan Minds 

Nearing its seventh season, the Michigan Minds podcast continues to be a core component of the Public Engagement & Impact strategy to provide relevant expert insights on timely topics of interest. There were nearly 44,000 downloads and streams of the 65 podcast episodes this year. Featuring 72 faculty members and graduate student researchers from 17 schools and colleges, a vast array of topics were covered in 2022. View the top 10 podcast episodes of the year and visit PublicEngagement.UMich.edu to listen to each episode

Special series

For the past several years, Michigan Minds special series have been an impactful way to convey the depth of expertise at the university by highlighting a diverse array of individuals and their research on topics that can be approached from numerous disciplines, perspectives, and specialities. 

  • International Day of Women and Girls in Science: Through a collaboration with the Office of the Vice President for Research for International Day of Women and Girls in Science, Public Engagement & Impact interviewed five researchers—faculty, graduate, and undergraduate—about their research experiences. 
  • Sustainability: Leading up to Earth Day, a special series was developed to highlight how the impacts of climate change are being felt in Michigan communities. From working with rural Michigan communities on renewable energy development, to studying the Great Lakes water level variability, and to leveraging research to advance environmental policy, U-M experts talked with Michigan Minds about some of the state’s most pressing climate challenges.
  • Nursing and Mental Health: The theme for National Nurses Week in 2022 was ‘Nurses: A Voice to Lead’ — an important signifier of the vital role nurses play in caring and advocating for patients. Acknowledging this, and the numerous studies that found nurses are facing increased stress and suffering, Michigan Minds talks to four U-M School of Nursing experts to explore these issues, learn insight from their research, and ask about ways community members can provide support to the nursing workforce.
  • Disability Employment Awareness: During National Disability Employment Awareness Month (October), the important roles that people with developmental and intellectual disabilities play in a diverse and inclusive workforce are celebrated. It is also a time to acknowledge that there are numerous barriers for individuals with disabilities when it comes to seeking employment. In this series, experts at U-M talked about how they are working to address these challenges and provided resources to help with seeking employment, conducting interviews, and maintaining support throughout employment.

Michigan Impact 

Redesigned and relaunched in October 2021, 2022 was the first full year of monthly distribution of the Michigan Impact newsletter. Interest in the newsletter continued to grow throughout the year as new content features were offered and engaging design elements were incorporated. In total, the newsletter was opened more than 592,000 times in 2022, driving over 14,000 people to U-M websites via embedded links. Michigan Impact consistently provided valuable information about research discoveries, community impact projects, and thought-leadership to legislators, alumni, high school counselors, and other stakeholders across the state. 

A new element of the Michigan Impact newsletter was the addition of Leadership Q&A’s featured nearly each month to reflect on societal challenges, discuss exciting advancements, and highlight their expertise on relevant topics for Michigan communities. A different member of leadership contributed each month, expanding the reach of these thought-leaders and the valuable insights they provide. 

President’s Awards for Public Engagement 

The President’s Awards for Public Engagement each year recognize U-M faculty members’ commitment and contributions to significantly impact society through national and state leadership service and efforts to address the challenges our communities face every day. This year, U-M honored Marisa C. Eisenberg and H. Luke Shaefer with the presidential awards for public engagement. From helping lead the state of Michigan’s public health response throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to leveraging research to advance social policy that provides crucial assistance to families in need, Eisenberg and Shaefer embody the University of Michigan’s commitment to public engagement and impact and dedication to addressing challenges facing our communities.

Public Engagement & Impact works closely with the Office of the President to elevate the importance of faculty public engagement and celebrate the individuals who are dedicated to fulfilling the university’s mission to serve the people of Michigan. Public Engagement & Impact strategizes and develops promotions in collaboration with the Office of the President to encourage nominations for the awards, and creates articles, videos, and promotional materials to announce the award winners each year. 

Advancing accessibility 

Public Engagement & Impact has always been committed to amplifying diverse efforts and work to create a more inclusive community. In 2022, we identified numerous opportunities to elevate individuals on campus—faculty members, student life leadership, and graduate students—who through their work to advance disability justice enhance accessibility in all environments are demonstrating why Wolverines are referred to as the Leaders and Best. 

Public Engagement Faculty Fellowship 

The Public Engagement Faculty Fellowship, an effort steered by the Office of the Vice President for Research along with numerous partners, in partnership with public engagement units across campus, continued to foster faculty engagement at U-M throughout 2022. Public Engagement & Impact worked in close collaboration with the cohort of faculty fellows and mentors by serving on the advisory board and speaking at numerous studio experience sessions. Public Engagement & Impact also works with participants to develop and promote community-engaged approaches, playing an important role in helping faculty conduct effective public engagement work.

Michigan Road Scholars 

Connecting faculty and communities increases knowledge and understanding of educational systems, economic issues, and societal challenges. The annual Michigan Road Scholars Tour returned in 2022 to connect faculty and communities and increase knowledge and understanding of educational systems, economic issues, and societal challenges. As the five-day traveling seminar for faculty throughout Michigan came to an end, Public Engagement talked to several of the 16 faculty who participated to hear about their experiences, interactions, and outcomes of conversations. 

Image of faculty standing on stairs for a photo

Veterans Day 

Lt. Col. Church is a professor of military science with the Wolverine Battalion and the chair of the Army Officer Education Program. He graduated from U-M with a Bachelor of Arts and commissioned from the U-M ROTC program, and has since held numerous roles throughout the past 19 years. He was born in Kentwood, Michigan, which is near Grand Rapids. He is also a member of the Match-E-Be-Nash-E-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians, also known as the Gun Lake Tribe. Church and Master Sergeant Tom Hance met with Public Engagement & Impact to talk about how the U-M Army ROTC program trains students to become second lieutenants in the US military, what the cadet experience is like, and also to discuss what Veterans Day means to them and how the campus community can honor veterans. From this collaboration, Public Engagement and UMSocial also then worked with cadets directly to create a video that encourages students to say hello when they see a member of the ROTC in uniform rather than ignore or avoid them. It also led to the highlight of a ceremonial Eagle Staff raising at the final Michigan Football home game, which was spearheaded by Church and included members of the Gun Lake Tribe, in honor of Native American Heritage Month. 

External Media Spotlights 

With daily social media promotions of faculty who provide insight in national and local external media outlets, Public Engagement & Impact continues to elevate the expertise of researchers and experts across the institution as well as emphasize the importance of communicating this information with our communities. Be sure to follow U-M on Twitter and connect with us on LinkedIn to keep updated on the topics and issues U-M faculty are weighing in on and how their work is addressing societal challenges around the world.

By Erica Colaianne