With first director, Semester in Detroit gears up for inaugural program

BY BETH WITTENSTEIN
Daily Staff Reporter
Published September 3, 2008

Corrections Appended: This article originally said that Residential College Prof. Stephen Ward will teach a theater course as part of the program. Ward will teach a course on history of Detroit and partner with the Mosaic Youth Theater to produce a play at the end of the term. The article also said that University alums in Detroit will mentor program participants. The arrangement is a three-person network between University alums, University students and a Detroit high school student.

The Semester in Detroit project, a program which will intertwine a community-based internship and an urban studies course, moved one step closer to sending students to the Motor City.
Craig Regester, the recently appointed associate staff director for the program, began work Tuesday and is enthusiastic about the program’s goals.

“It will provide an opportunity for students that seriously want to immerse themselves in the city in a way that wasn’t possible until now,” said Regester.

Regester already set up a listing of courses and additional information about the program online. Students will live in Wayne State University residence halls and have access to the school's facilities.

University professors and administrators from several different schools and departments have worked together over the past year to launch the program including Ginsberg Center Director Margaret Dewar, Residential College Director Charles Bright, LSA Asst. Dean Evans Young and Lester Monts, Senior Vice Provost for Academic Affairs.

Regester said the group has contacted more than 300 Detroit-based organizations in hopes of placing University students in internship programs.

The program will offer three elective courses for program participants — “Detroit Connections,” taught by Nick Tobier, an assistant professor in the School of Art and Design; a creative writing course titled “Writing in Detroit” taught by RC Lecturer Lolita Hernandez and a Detroit history course taught by Residential College Prof. Stephen Ward. Ward and his students will collaborate with Detroit’s Mosaic Youth Theater to produce an oral history production at the end of the term.

Regester said he plans to add more elective choices for students in the program.

He said he'd also like to see the Semester in Detroit program involve an extracurricular mentorship program in which University students can meet regularly with a University alum living or working in the city and a Detroit high school student.

“On a small scale,” Regester said, “that sort of mentorship program will encourage more young people to consider college in general.”
A group of seven or eight student organizers will recruit other University students to the program over the next several weeks. Their goal, Regester said, is to get 25 students to enroll in the program’s first semester.

University alum Rachael Tanner, who launched the program last year, originally contacted Regester after talking with Ward, who said he recommended Regester because of his work with non-profit community programs there.

“I think Detroit is an absolutely fascinating place to be,” Regester said. “It illuminates to anyone who spends any time there the tremendous cultural importance and the tremendous amount of need in the city.”