By RICKY LINDSAY, Editor-in-Chief
When Ray Metz came to the University of Michigan-Dearborn in 2001, he believed the university had more untapped potential than any he had ever seen.
Fifteen years later, that untapped potential remains, and is one of several reasons that keeps him at the university.
Metz began his tenure as UM-Dearborn’s Vice Chancellor of Enrollment Management and Student Life on March 1. He served in an interim role since January 2015 and was formerly he was Chief of Staff to Chancellor Daniel Little.
Metz spoke to The Michigan Journal prior to UM-Dearborn’s spring break, touching on both sides of his new job, changes that could be coming to the university in the near future and the relationship with U-M Ann Arbor.
Metz said he would like to create a Dean of Students position and a strategic enrollment plan, define the next generation of student life and invest in athletics.
UM-Dearborn would like to hire a Dean of Students “within in the next six months,” according to Metz.
“If we hire a Dean of Students, I think it would be nice if the students had already sort of set an expectation of what they’d like student life to be, so a new person coming in as Dean of Students would try to create what the students would like,” he said. “There’s no question that I want to be supportive of student life, but I think between enrollment management and student life, it’s a big job. I’d like to have a full-time person who is dedicated to really paying attention to the needs of students and doing a great job of that.”
A Dean of Students ties into the future of student life, which Metz believes needs to be “better defined by students” and “defined over a period of time.”
“I’m kind of excited about what the next generation of student life will look like on the campus — what kind of spaces, what kind of organizations, what kind of expectations the students have. I think all of that will sort of change,” Metz said. “I’ve been saying for probably three years now (that) student life will look kind of different on this campus because we’ll have a different set of expectations coming from the students.”
Metz said Little has asked him to work on a strategic enrollment plan, which he anticipates will take nine to 12 months to complete.
“Some of the things I know that are being discussed range from stronger academic qualifications coming in for students. We’ve been down that path for the last 10 years and I think there’s an ongoing commitment to making sure we do that,” Metz said. “And then there’s a number of things that we need to be doing; one of them is technology. We’re one of the few schools around that doesn’t have what’s considered to be a customer relations management software package, which is just designed help to build stronger relationships between high school students, potential students and students who come here.”
Metz also views athletics as an important component to his new position and wants to invest in it.
One way to do this is by adding more sports. UM-Dearborn currently has nine varsity sports, including its varsity club hockey team.
“There’s certainly a number of students who — if we had the programs — would be interested in us that are not interested in us right now because we don’t have those programs,” Metz said. “We hope to add three to five sports in the next three years, so that I think will make a difference.”
Metz said the university is scheduled to replace the Fieldhouse’s court “in the next year.” The Fieldhouse currently has a rubber court that houses volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball and softball and lacrosse practices. He said the court “needs” to be wooden.
Other areas of need when it comes to athletics are the Wellness Center — which Metz said “badly” needs an update “in terms of equipment and support” — and the hockey rink. Metz pointed out storage, boards and zamboni issues that the rink has.
Untapped potential is not limited to UM-Dearborn’s campus, though. Metz believes untapped potential is present with the university’s relationship with U-M Ann Arbor.
Metz said Little has asked him to build a stronger relationship with U-M’s enrollment management because students that don’t get admitted to the Ann Arbor campus may have a future at UM-Dearborn.
“There’s no question that there’s a lot of high-quality students that want to get a University of Michigan degree, and many of them apply to Ann Arbor and don’t get in. Some of them have a future here,” Metz said. “If you look at the Ann Arbor relationship, the regional campuses for other Big Ten schools have a much stronger relationship when it comes to enrollment, and so there’s a huge potential there.
“And we don’t know exactly what will happen, but if there are 20,000 students that are interested in Ann Arbor and don’t get into Ann Arbor, if we had one percent of those students, it would change this campus forever.”