Overview: Our moment in time

Who we are, and what we stand for 

As Michigan's only public urban research university, Wayne State University has been dedicated to changing the world from the heart of Detroit for more than 150 years. Founded in 1868 as the Detroit Medical College, Wayne State is today a powerhouse of academic excellence, one of the nation's preeminent urban research institutions, and a thriving home to 13 schools and colleges that advance knowledge across a broad array of disciplines reflected in a diverse range of academic programs. Nearly 25,000 students from down the street and around the world call themselves Wayne State Warriors. They join nearly 285,000 alumni who, as citizens, leaders and doers, live the Warrior spirit in every conceivable vocation.

Our primary focus has always been, and will remain, the success of our students. Our student body represents a diversity of races, cultures and beliefs, and we feel a deep responsibility to ensure every student has access to the opportunities a world-class college education offers. 

Through decades of growth and change, we have been guided by an unwavering commitment to academic excellence. Wayne State's faculty experts bring lifetimes of scholarly and professional success into classrooms and labs each day, sharing knowledge with our students and preparing them to excel in their chosen careers.

We are renowned for our research excellence. As one of only six public, urban universities in the United States to hold the highest Carnegie Foundation ratings for both research intensiveness and community engagement, we never lose sight of the fact that the work done on campus has implications in our own community and in communities worldwide. 

Our home, our campus 

The Wayne State of today looks much different than the one of 153 years ago. What started in a single building in Detroit now encompasses a dynamic 200-acre campus that is home to state-of-the-art laboratories, theatres, galleries, collaborative learning areas, green spaces, restaurants, shops and more. Campus life bustles with activity and opportunity, anchored by more than 500 student organizations, NCAA sports teams, art installations and a thriving social scene. Students from 70 different countries live in our residence halls and apartments, creating a diverse community that helps create engaged global citizens.    

Wayne State is Michigan's only major public urban research university, and we have since our founding been inextricably linked to a city that paradoxically has symbolized both the American dream and urban decline. No matter the city's challenges or opportunities, Wayne State has remained a present and steadfast partner, engaging with the community and its people in ways that leave a lasting positive impact — from educational access to research that solves real-world problems; from neighborhood service to workforce development; from economic innovation to public safety and social mobility. The dazzling diversity of people and cultures — and the spirit and grit that animate them — are mirrored in our university community. We are in and of Detroit, and we are here to stay. Detroit is our home.  

Relentless progress and dedicated people 

In 2016, Wayne State launched its five-year strategic plan, "Distinctively Wayne State," a product of participation and input from across the campus and community, and a plan that still resonates. The campus community's embrace of the plan resulted in notable successes over the past five years, including: 

  • Achieving unprecedented and award-winning improvements in our six-year graduation rates, exceeding our overall goal of 50% by more than six percentage points and more than tripling our African American graduation rate. 
  • Exceeding our Pivotal Moments fundraising campaign goal of $750 million. 
  • Increasing our research grants and expenditures.
  • Increasing freshman enrollment, including attracting the three largest freshman enrollments in Wayne State's history. 
  • Receiving record applications for the School of Medicine, leading to some of the most diverse and inclusive classes of medical students in the country. 
  • Completing the new Mike Ilitch School of Business in the heart of Detroit, made possible by the largest funding gift in Wayne State's history. 

These achievements, and many more, were the result of the dedication and commitment of Wayne State's faculty and staff. 

Undaunted 

A global pandemic in early 2020 tested — but did not break — the Warrior spirit. Wayne State mobilized a cross-campus team to steer the university through this unprecedented challenge, guided by concern for the safety of our campus community and faithful adherence to our mission. 

Our faculty adjusted to new methods of teaching overnight. Our students persevered and advanced. Our research activities continued to expand. Our staff learned to work remotely while balancing new technology with new household challenges. Everywhere, Wayne State's people were heroic: from critical employees who worked on campus and never missed a day throughout the pandemic to students, faculty and staff who found new ways to serve a community beset by illness, fear and anxiety. 

We were tested, but emerged wiser, smarter, undaunted. We are Warrior Strong — and we are stronger than ever.  

Our moment in time 

Now it is time to look forward. Like the city of our founding, Wayne State has weathered profound challenges, seized opportunities, learned from difficulties, shown remarkable resilience, and demonstrated a flair for renewal and reinvention. From the recent challenges, we emerged with renewed spirit, renewed ambition and a renewed commitment to excellence, our mission, our community, our state and each other. Building upon the success and strong foundation of our "Distinctively Wayne State" plan, we began the process of creating our next strategic plan in early 2021 with our Board of Governors, who affirmed our mission, broadened our vision and emphasized in our values the importance of Wayne State's leadership in Detroit's resurgence. Led by a steering committee representing diverse backgrounds, perspectives, positions and experiences, we invited participation from across the campus and community, collecting input and insights that form the basis of a new roadmap to our future: our 2022-27 strategic plan entitled "Our Moment in Time."  

We are Wayne State University. This is our moment.