By STANLEY E. HENDERSON, Vice-Chancellor of Enrollment and Student Life
In response to the Michigan Journal article on The Union at Dearborn student housing project last week, it is important to note that the University of Michigan-Dearborn has had extensive experience working with Urban Campus Communities (UCC). As a result, we have come to know the UCC partners as committed, experienced, and successful developers fully capable of meeting the standards of safety and well-being we expect for the students who will live at The Union. They have a track record of successful commercial developments far larger and more complex than The Union.
This knowledge comes not only from our own interactions with UCC but also from a thorough review and negotiation process conducted through the University of Michigan’s Offices of Real Estate and General Counsel in Ann Arbor. No issues of concern came out of that process, and the university has clearly delineated requirements and standards that UCC must meet in The Union project. Even though we would not own or operate the housing, we wanted to be sure we could recommend it to our students as a safe and positive housing experience.
It is also important to note that we have committed to lease nearly 15,000 square feet of programming space in the complex. The University of Michigan is very careful to ensure that appropriate standards are met in any space leased by any university entity. We are very confident that UCC meets those standards.
We also became convinced during the negotiation process with UCC that the company’s principals shared our commitment to providing outstanding service and experience to students. In fact, the broken water pipe at UCC’s Midtown Detroit project, mentioned in the MJ story, provides ample evidence of that. While we appreciated the fact that UCC promptly disclosed the accident to us as the result of human error—not of shoddy construction or design—what impressed us the most was the commitment and care they took in promptly placing every resident of that project in alternative housing. In fact, that was prominently mentioned in the MJ story. Sometimes what you do when things go wrong gives a clearer picture of how you will operate when things are going well. We liked what we saw.
Far from being a risky venture, The Union at Dearborn will be a lynchpin in UM-Dearborn’s future development. Giving the option of a residential experience for UM-Dearborn students will provide increased opportunities for their growth and development. UCC is helping to transform our campus and our students’ experience.
We enthusiastically encourage students to consider The Union at Dearborn. The quality of both the building and the service students will receive will reflect UCC’s own brand of Michigan Excellence.
Stanley E. Henderson
Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management and Student Life