I’m writing this on a sunny November Saturday in Ann Arbor while contemplating riding my bike over to The Big House to watch the Wolverines take on the Purdue Boilermakers. I love the James Earl Jones-narrated hype video that plays just before the game. I also love when the public address announcer thanks the crowd for coming to watch the game and announce that game’s attendance. The games I’ve been to (including the 2021 win over the team down south) have always had crowds of more than 110,000. That’s a HUGE number. But the University of Michigan is all about huge numbers. For instance, a few weeks ago I learned that the University of Michigan became the largest university in the state, with more than 52,000 students. The University of Michigan received almost 94,000 applications and admitted its largest-ever incoming class of 7,466 first-year students and 1,414 transfer students. 

And EEB is also seeing some big numbers. We admitted a record class of graduate students this fall, with 27 incoming Ph.D. and Master’s students. As of right now, we have 103 EEB majors. And, the relatively new major, Biology, Health, and Society that we contribute to, in partnership with MCDB, has almost 500 majors. EEB has advertised for two faculty positions in the last couple of years; in total, almost 600 people applied for those two positions. Our Halloween-themed lunch-time seminar on October 31 was the most packed seminar I’ve seen in my three years here.  

Why do I share those numbers with you? I guess it’s because it’s clear to me that there are a lot of people who want to be at the University of Michigan, and in EEB – undergrads, graduate students, postdocs, football fans, and faculty (yes, I think there are some football fans who want to be in EEB). We clearly are doing something that is attracting folks here. But what? And if we can identify the “what,” how can we do more of it? That’s what I’ve spent my first few months as the new Chair of EEB trying to figure out. I’ve been focusing on what we do well, and just as importantly, what we need to be doing better. What you’ll see in this newsletter are some of the things that I think we’re doing really well, like recruiting and retaining exceptional graduate students and faculty. And you’ll also see some things that I think we’re getting better at, like connecting with alumni and forging bridges among the ES George Reserve, the Herbarium, the Museum of Zoology, and students. In future newsletters, I hope to share with you more of the things that we are actively working on improving in our EEB community. 

Until then – 

Nathan Sanders,
Professor and Chair