Parents and Families

Vice President E. Royster Harper

On September 5, 2014, Dr. Mark Schlissel was inaugurated as the 14th president of the University of Michigan.  It was a day of ceremony, inspiration, and affirmation for this great teaching and research institution.  I am confident that the coming years under President Schlissel’s leadership will continue to advance our institutional mission and provide an excellent educational experience to our students. 

[To learn more about President Schlissel, I encourage you to view the inauguration website, which also includes his full remarks, photos, and video highlights.]

President Schlissel’s inaugural address was titled The Power of Ideas and the Value of All Voices. In it he declared:

I firmly believe that we cannot achieve true excellence without leveraging the experiences and perspectives of the broadest possible diversity of students, faculty, and staff. This is challenging work. Not only building a diverse student body, but also creating an inclusive campus climate that is open to difficult discourse.

I wholeheartedly agree with President Schlissel, for the University of Michigan is a special place. Throughout our history, the University has been a place that encourages a wealth of voices – it is what has made us a rich, engaging, and robust intellectual environment.

As part of that history, the University celebrates a long tradition of student activism. Indeed, many of the national movements that led to great social change, and many of the world’s leading intellects on justice, equality, and freedom developed as students here at the University of Michigan.

What experiences and perspectives do your students bring to our community? How will their backgrounds and opinions enrich our campus and our world? And how can you as a parent or family member support them in an exciting and challenging campus climate that can include difficult, even uncomfortable discourse?

In today’s hyper-connected world, we are all at some point exposed to people and ideas we find unfamiliar, difficult to understand, outright disagreeable, offensive, or upsetting. Learning how to engage with such individuals and worldviews, and how to care for ourselves and each other when feeling angry or uncomfortable, are some of the most essential skills the University can teach our students.

In this edition of Family Matters, we provide you with an article entitled Talking About Campus Challenges with some concrete suggestions for facilitating those conversations with busy students – whether it’s a simple check in, or a longer exploration of how they learn, grow, and connect, while standing up for their values and beliefs.

You can be sure that all of us in Student Life, as across the university, are actively involved in the process as well! You may contact this office ( or 734-764-5132) or any of my Student Life  colleagues whenever we can be of service to you. 

E. Royster Harper

Vice President for Student Life


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