University of Michigan Board of Regents introduced Domenico Grasso as UM-Dearborn’s new chancellor on Friday afternoon at the Fieldhouse.
Grasso succeeds former UM-Dearborn Chancellor Daniel Little, who stepped down last year after 18 years.
“I join with others who proudly claim roots in the group of common Americans who strong desire it is to have a productive and fulfilling life, and to leave our world better than we found it,” Grasso said. “This has been the compelling narrative of our United States that neither lineage nor wealth are necessary to determine its success.”
Grasso took the opportunity to lay out his goals for the University’s future, such as doubling the student population within five to ten years, and pushing graduation and retention rates up to 70 percent. UM-Dearborn currently has 9,468 undergraduate and postgraduate students.
The ceremony featured many speeches, including Henry Ford III, UM President Mark Schlissel, Regents Ron Weiser, Paul Brown and Ruth Simmons, who delivered the inaugural address.
“It’s a pleasure for me, because Chancellor Grasso is one of the finest men I’ve met in my long career in higher education,” Simmons said during the address. “In an age in which more than ever we need highly capable, ethical and empathic individuals to lead universities through a period of challenge and change.”
UM President Mark Schlissel praised UM-Dearborn’s commitment to sustain the university’s pledge of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. He also recognized UM-Dearborn graduates for bolstering the local economy and enhancing communities that are in need of vocally engaged leaders.
“Chancellor Grasso has enhanced this essential aspect of our university including his core values, diversity, inclusion and community engagement,” Schlissel said. “In viewing the potential of a diverse and well qualified student body, who may lack privilege but do not lack ambition in setting the campus apart. This is a very special day for all of us.”
As manager of corporate strategy at Ford Motor Co., Ford III highlighted the partnership between the University of Michigan and Ford to help provide a safer and cleaner transportation system.
He said the research relationship between is critical to further develop rapidly advancing technology and innovations to enable the promise to increase the availability of intelligent vehicles.
“I am so grateful and thankful to have a partner like the University of Michigan-Dearborn right here in our backyard to tackle these problems with,” Ford III said. “I’m also proud to say that we currently have several thousand alumni for UM-Dearborn working at Ford.”
Grasso was appointed UM-Dearborn chancellor and an executive officer last August, and also serves as professor of public policy and administration and professor of sustainable engineering at UM-Dearborn.
He has an extensive background that includes serving as Provost at the University of Delaware as well as a Dean at the University of Vermont.
For his education, he received engineering degrees from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (B.Sc.), Purdue University (M.S.) and the University of Michigan (Ph.D.).
Grasso hopes to use this experience to bring bold changes to campus, an endeavor he acknowledges he can’t complete alone.
“Achieving these goals and creating a strong and vital future for UM-Dearborn is a collective enterprise, a group endeavor,” Grasso said. “Without doubt, there remain many exciting and revolutionary advances which we will witness in our lives. Equally certain is that the challenges and opportunities we face will require our collective genius, imagination and resourcefulness. Working continuously to provide an uncommon education, we will contribute meaningfully to the heroic saga and destiny of the common individual and make a difference—not only for our state, but for our nation and our world.”