- Associated Press - Thursday, June 2, 2016

MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. (AP) - The leaders of Michigan’s three major research universities said Thursday that Detroit is pivotal to their missions, unveiling a study showing their research cluster generated $958 million in economic activity in the city last year and directly employed more than 8,100 faculty and staff.

Wayne State University is based in Detroit. The University of Michigan and Michigan State University have a physical presence there, with hubs for students and faculty working in the city.

The University Research Corridor, an alliance of the three research schools, conducted $263 million in Detroit-related research over five years, through more than 700 research grants. The universities are engaged in more than 340 programs and initiatives - nearly a third of them focused on improving the ailing K-12 system.

The state’s largest city, where revitalization efforts are ongoing post-bankruptcy, is “critical to the future of Michigan,” Michigan State President Lou Anna Simon said at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s Mackinac Policy Conference, where the report was released.

“The issues are just way too big for any one university to be able to tackle by themselves. It really requires a partnership,” Wayne State President M. Roy Wilson said.

Key initiatives identified in Detroit include Wayne State’s focus on reviving Midtown surrounding its campus; medical school facilities; MSU Extension, which aims to improve nutrition and the availability of fresh foods in the city; MSU’s Community Music School; and efforts by the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health to address higher rates of asthma and cardiovascular disease in Detroit.

University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel said one goal in commissioning such studies every year is to remind policymakers of why adequately funding the schools matters.

“In this era where year after year public higher ed funding is threatened, we think it’s important to keep in front of the public what it is we do for the state of Michigan,” he said. “It’s not just educating their students. It’s doing research and being engaged in the communities that are important for the future of the state so that we benefit all the citizens, not just the students who are on our campuses.”

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Follow David Eggert on Twitter at http://twitter.com/DavidEggert00 . His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/author/david-eggert

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