Nancy Schlichting of Henry Ford Health System. Paul Anger of the Detroit Free Press. Paul Hillegonds of the Southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority. These are just a few of the Detroit-area business leaders who deepened their understanding of the city and region through the Detroit Orientation Institute at Wayne State University.
Dormant since 2013, Wayne State is revamping and re-launching the Institute with a half-day event, Immerse Detroit, on Oct. 29 from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The information-packed morning will begin with a bus tour through Detroit neighborhoods and destinations, including Midtown, Downtown, the riverfront, West Village, the Heidelberg Project, Eastern Market, the Avenue of Fashion and Palmer Park. Participants will engage in conversation with community leaders along the route, including Dan Carmody (Eastern Market Corp.), Josh Elling (Jefferson East Business Association), Linda Walter (MDNR's Outdoor Adventure Center) and Kim Tandy (Detroit Dept. of Neighborhoods).
The interactive event will conclude with lunch and a group dialogue -- "Your Detroit? My Detroit? OUR Detroit!" -- led by Pulitzer Prize-winner Stephen Henderson of the Detroit Free Press. Joining the discussion will be Maggie DeSantis (Eastside Community Network), Laura Hughes (Strategic Staffing Solutions) and Dan Kinkead (Detroit Future City).
The Detroit Orientation Institute first launched in 1991 in response to recommendations in the Detroit Strategic Plan, a project of the Detroit Renaissance business organization and Mayor Coleman Young. At the time, media coverage of the city was viewed as particularly negative and inflammatory. The Institute originally aimed to offer the media an objective, balanced view of the city. Its reach soon expanded to the business community. Many of today's business and community leaders completed the Institute's intensive three-day course -- whether they were new to the city or not.
"Even after living in Detroit for five years, I found the DOI to be a very meaningful learning experience," observed Nancy Schlichting, president and CEO of Henry Ford Health System, at the time.
"The Detroit Orientation Institute has always been about building a deeper understanding of and challenging assumptions about Detroit," observed Ned Staebler, vice-president of economic development at Wayne State University. "The narratives about Detroit are changing. This is the perfect time to rekindle the dialogue and draw on Wayne State's ability to gather leaders who impact culture, politics, development and progress here."
Today, the Institute engages business, community, media, nonprofit, political, civic and student leaders in immersive events that illuminate Detroit and foster connections. Participants visit the city's neighborhoods and key institutions, interacting with change-makers as they dig deep into the region's history and current landscape. Groups are small and participatory, with long-time leaders and newcomers together exploring contemporary issues and opportunities. For more information, visit doi.wayne.edu.
Event: Detroit Orientation Institute: Immerse Detroit
Date: Wednesday Oct. 29
Time: 8 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Location: TechTown, 440 Burroughs St., Detroit 48202
Wayne State University is a premier urban research institution offering more than 370 academic programs through 13 schools and colleges to nearly 28,000 students.