Detroit Public Schools accelerates innovation planning with top international experts from U-M Ross School of Business


Michigan Ross faculty have experience with Fortune 500 companies, local, state, federal and international government agencies

Detroit Public Schools and top international management experts from one of the country’s highest ranked business schools have partnered to accelerate the district’s strategy planning and reinvent and transform the district’s business operations to support high achieving schools.

DPS this week has brought on board senior faculty and organizational leadership and development experts from the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. Under the guidance of U-M professors, a new tailored executive leadership program will both speed up and work to sustain the district’s efforts to re-engineer, synchronize and align all of the District’s performance-driven operations. Michigan Ross faculty are offering the project pro bono to DPS.

“Michigan Ross shares a common bond with our colleagues of the Detroit Public Schools and that is our belief that a quality education is transformative,” said Alison Davis-Blake, dean of the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.  “We applaud DPS for making a commitment to ongoing leadership development and strategic planning for their future, and the future of their students, and are proud to offer our expertise to support this partnership.”

These faculty members have successfully worked on turnaround models with such diverse organizations as Oracle, Bank of America, the National Intelligence Agencies, U.S. Army General officers, Prudential, Pfizer and the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, along with dozens of others.

As part of the partnership, the DPS leadership team under Emergency Manager Darnell Earley has committed to:

  • Create a high performance environment;
  • Provide the tools, resources and technology to accomplish work activities;
  • Utilize comprehensive performance management in a clear and transparent decision process, and;
  • Recognize and reward behaviors that reinforce a lean, agile performance-driven culture.

Led by Dr. Kim Cameron, the William Russell Kelly Professor of Management & Organizations in the Ross School of Business and Professor of Higher Education in the School of Education and a team of Ross School senior faculty, the work will include teams of DPS senior leaders along with teachers, principals and staff identified as “positive energy innovators” spending extended sessions at the Ross School and in Detroit with follow-up visits to DPS by Ross faculty throughout Earley’s 18 month tenure at DPS.

Professor Cameron holds a Ph.D. from Yale. His past research on organizational virtuousness, downsizing, effectiveness, corporate quality culture, and the development of leadership excellence has been published in more than 120 academic articles and 15 scholarly books. Cameron served as Dean at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University and is the co founder of the Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship at the University of Michigan.  Cameron is also an integral faculty member of the Ross Executive Education Program, which offers open enrollment and custom programs to executives and companies on a host of leadership and management issues.

“We’re in an upward trajectory with recent successes in terms of academic progress as evidenced by last week’s release of greatly improved graduation rates that show we are closing the gap with the state of Michigan, along with enrollment stabilization, and new programs,” Earley stated. “But we must re-engineer the services that the District provides to schools and families to focus on academic success, first and foremost, and to ensure that this progress not only continues, but accelerates. We must also take successful programs and continue to replicate them.”

In restructuring, DPS will partner with additional universities and other key stakeholders and develop comprehensive funding strategies to support this important work. DPS will also continue to focus on a review of all contracts, policies and procedures, including the key areas of central office administration, special education, curriculum and instruction, grants, and staffing models, as well as non-core programs.

“The bottom line is that all players in the Detroit education market must not only improve individually, but also work together to create an efficient and effective public education delivery system in Detroit. We must never forget that a strong public school system is essential to the future of Detroit, Southeast Michigan, as well as the State of Michigan,” Earley said.

The partnership with the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan will help guide implementation of Earley’s 10-Point Management Plan that is moving the district toward long-term financial stability and educational competitiveness. The District’s Michigan Ross partnership will also complement the work DPS staff members have done as a part of their participation in the reform recommendation efforts being led by The Coalition for the Future of Detroit Schoolchildren. Since the inception of the Coalition, senior DPS executives have participated, assisted and taken a leadership role, in conjunction with other educators and stakeholders, in framing the issues and the resulting recommendations in the areas of support services, academics, governance, special education and finance. Their collective, 100-plus hours of service to the group’s subcommittees is in addition to the major roles that DPS principals, teachers, parents and staff have played in shaping the Coalition since its formation in late 2014. Earley also met and talks regularly with Tonya Allen and other Co-Chairs of the Coalition.


About Michigan Ross

The Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan is a vibrant and distinctive learning community grounded in the principle that business can be an extraordinary vehicle for positive change in today's dynamic global economy. The Ross School of Business mission is to develop leaders who make a positive difference in the world. Through thought and action, members of the Ross community drive change and innovation that improves business and society.

Ross is consistently ranked among the world's leading business schools. Academic degree programs include the BBA, MBA, Part-time MBA (Evening and Weekend formats), Executive MBA, Global MBA, Master of Accounting, Master of Supply Chain Management, Master of Management, and PhD. In addition, the school delivers open-enrollment and custom executive education programs targeting general management, leadership development, and strategic human resource management.

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