Back in 1999, one of Daryl’s first projects at U-M was a road trip. He was newly hired as the Director of Corporate Relations at the College of Engineering and admits he was “naive”. He had come from working in industry in Chicago, and to get a handle on the task in front of him, he took to the road, visiting corporate relations departments at peer academic institutions around the country.
What he heard was intriguing: a whispering of opportunity that was unexplored by any university he visited. Universities had been working with corporations for years, but the efforts were clumsy and inefficient.”Corporate Relations” departments were solely focused on philanthropy, and the broader opportunities for interaction were largely unexplored or uncoordinated. But professionals in the field were starting to talk about a new approach. Weinert brought his ideas back to the U-M College of Engineering and created a five year strategic plan for a “holistic” corporate approach that would encompass research, professional development, recruiting, technology transfer, student projects and philanthropy. The results were impressive, as corporate interactions at the College of Engineering expanded.
Operated successfully at the College of Engineering, in early 2007 university leadership recognized the need for a campus-wide implementation of the holistic approach. That was the seed for what became the Business Engagement Center. In its first year, Daryl managed the fledgling BEC as well as the corporate & government relations program at Engineering. It quickly became clear that the successes at Engineering could be magnified significantly campus-wide, so Weinert eventually shifted his focus fully to the BEC.
Since the BEC’s founding ten years ago, over 100 academic institutions have approached the BEC and Weinert to learn about U-M’s model and its successes. Weinert has consulted with numerous organizations, sharing what U-M learned along the way. “We are considered the gold standard nationally and globally. The number of schools who have come through to kick the tires and learn from U-M is astounding. Many have rolled out similar offices – even calling themselves the BEC. Imitation is the highest form of flattery,” Weinert comments.
They have reason to come here. He continues, “I’m proudest of the results we’ve seen. We’ve had steady growth, even through the economic downturn. That’s an amazing accomplishment. We’ve had record year after record year. And the best is yet to come.”
About Daryl Weinert
In 2012 Weinert expanded his duties at the University of Michigan Office of Research (UMOR) and was promoted to Associate Vice President for Research, where he currently oversees administrative and business functions, including budget and finance, human resources, and communications. In addition, Weinert oversees the operations of the Business Engagement
Center and the Office of Research and Sponsored Projects, which facilitates the administration of sponsored research and other programs at U-M funded by government, industry and other organizations.