Ford’s first gift in 1913 (an engine), was just the beginning of a transformational partnership that has had a significant impact on the global economy and engaged more than 50 units across all three U-M campuses. Since that first gift, Ford’s commitment to U-M’s students, collaborative research, and our community has grown exponentially.
In 1955, Ford’s $1 million contribution to the Phoenix Memorial Project established the Ford Nuclear Reactor at U-M, advancing the peaceful application of atomic energy in our world.
Two years later, $6.5 million and more than 200 acres of land from the Ford Estate gave rise to the University of Michigan-Dearborn (home today to more than 9,000 students and 500 faculty members). In the 1970s Ford was a founding partner in the Center for Sustainable Systems at the School for Environment and Sustainability. It has shown unwavering support for sustainability initiatives at U-M in the decades since. And in the late 1990s, a $9.3 million commitment for a five-year College Relations Sponsor Program grant at U-M benefitted arts and culture, engineering minority programs, and the Center for the Education of Women, to name a few.
These are just a few of Ford’s philanthropic contributions to U-M in our first 200 years, and the mobility company’s commitment to the University of Michigan doesn’t stop there. Collaborative research partnerships between U-M and the Ford Motor Company are unparalleled across many disciplines on the Ann Arbor and Dearborn campuses, and Ford remains a top recruiter of the next generation of leaders. As a founding partner in Mcity, Ford is collaborating with the university, industry, and government organizations to lead the transformation to connected and automated vehicles.
A leader in innovation and new technology, the company has provided for research spaces, professorships, and programs across campus. Ford’s commitment to education, collaborative spirit, and future orientation have helped to propel U-M forward in research and education.
In 2017, the University of Michigan’s latest collaboration with the Ford Motor Company heralded an invaluable partnership for U-M’s third century. The four-story, 140,000-square-foot robotics facility slated for North Campus will be named the Ford Motor Company Robotics Building. This is in recognition of a $15 million gift from the company to the College of Engineering. Ford also has previously agreed to establish an on-campus research laboratory on the fourth floor of the new building.
Ken Washington, Vice President, Research and Advanced Engineering and Chief Technology Officer at Ford says, “Ford’s co-location on the Ann Arbor campus will only enhance the extraordinary pipeline of talent. Our investment will also enhance our already strong collaboration in autonomy and robotics by establishing an enduring footprint to propel our research partnership forward. Together, we will continue our leadership in advancing mobility.”
The Ford Motor Company Robotics Building is a compelling testament to our enduring partnership. This year, we celebrate more than 100 years of partnership with the Ford Motor Company and acknowledge their unprecedented corporate contributions at the University of Michigan.