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Advice for Schlissel: more culture

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Today, Mark Schlissel is installed as the 14th  president of the University of Michigan. We welcome him to Ann Arbor. In the time-honored tradition of busybody neighbors, we want to give him some advice. He didn’t ask for it, he might not want it or need it. But we hope he’ll take a few minutes and read it. Ann Arbor’s full of hypersmart, outspoken people. That’s a big part of what makes this place amazing. Enjoy, and join in the fun! 

Robin Agnew at Aunt Agatha’s Bookshop | Benjamin Weatherston

Robin Agnew at Aunt Agatha’s Bookshop | Benjamin Weatherston

Robin Agnew, with her husband Jamie, is co-owner of Aunt Agatha’s Bookshop, which celebrates 22 years in business this September. She is the president of the Kerrytown BookFest, an annual “celebration of the book” at the Farmer’s Market the week after Labor Day. She and Jamie live on the West Side with their pug, Hines, and are the parents of two Pioneer High School graduates.

As a downtown business owner, I can say that our store is helped immeasurably by the depth of talented and interesting folks the university draws. One of my favorites is a tiny, adorable woman who recruits here for the CIA. You’d never know it to talk with her, but all the same, she’s broadened my world, just as I hope I’ve broadened her reading experience.

Speaking of broadening,  my hope for the new U-M president is that the university would perhaps become more engaged in cultural events around town in some way, so that the university is not only known for the seeming billions of football fans who fill our streets on game days.

A few years back the university brought the Royal Shakespeare Company to town for some beautiful productions at the Power Center. That collaboration brought  the town and the university together in a wonderful way; the RSC did performances especially for Ann Arbor public school students, and the company members were all over town, eating and shopping here. More importantly, they raised the level of culture and education for everyone in town, as the shows deservedly sold out.

I was lucky enough to see three of the plays and it’s an experience I’ll never forget. The production of “The Tempest” starring Patrick Stewart was one of the best productions I’ve ever seen anywhere.

When the university presents an immersive cultural experience like the RSC, it raises the bar. We want to learn more. We want to experience more. We expect more.

So, welcome Mark Schlissel. More, please!

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