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Welcome to Michigan

The theme for this past "As I See It" competition and the accompanying FunPage was "Welcome to Michigan!" And we welcome you, by introducing you to a variety of people and places that you might appreciate even more when you realize the history you embraced when you committed to being a student at and in Michigan. Hopefully you can make the most out of your time at Michigan, and achieve acclaim by using these resources and role models before you.

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The state of Michigan alone is not just a hotbed of movie activity; the University of Michigan has looked inward to boost a culture of screen arts and cultures on campus. This article from 2010 details the efforts of multiple Michigan alumni and the campus itself to foster a more comprehensive film representation at U-M.

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Michigan is not used just as a filming location, but also as setting for movies like Clint Eastwood's Gran Torino. Set in Highland Park, Michigan, this movie has been recognized as one of the top 100 movies produced to date, was nominated for a Golden Globe, and has received numerous other accolades.

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Some movies feature U-M while being set elsewhere, like 1983 film "The Big Chill." This fictional movie follows a small group of U-M alumni that gather for a weekend following their former classmate and friend's suicide. The director, Lawrence Kasdan, paid subtle homage to his alma mater throughout the course of the movie. In addition to a great plot starring an A-list cast (Glenn Close, Kevin Klein, Jeff Goldblum, Mary Kay Place, and others) the constant references to U-M will keep you entertained for the entirety of the film.

Do you recognize this famous actress, singer, and dancer? This famous media figure is none other than U-M alumna Madonna Ciccone. Originally from Bay City, Michigan she received and U-M from 1978-1979 on a dance scholarship prior to moving to New York City where she would eventually distinguish herself as a singer. From 0:33-49 of this clip, hear about a 2008 update where she was recognized by her hometown and inducted into honor started by a fellow U-M attendee

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What do these puppets have to do with Michigan? Both U-M and this cast of Broadway musical Avenue Q have benefitted from the musical stylings of U-M graduate Jeff Marx ('93). Once a member of Michigan's Men's Glee Club, Jeff received a J.D. prior to meeting Robert Lopez with whom he created the concept and score for one of the longest running musicals on Broadway. Most recently, Avenue Q was hosted on U-M campus by the Ann Arbor Civic Theater! To see more about how Avenue Q was created and Jeff Marx's time in Ann Arbor, see this video

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Musician Iggy Pop was once roaming the U-M campus exploring all of its academic and co-curricular opportunities. While he never received a degree from the University (he attended only from 1963-64) and dropped out, Iggy Pop was inspired by a musical performance he saw The Doors put on at U-M. Most recently, Iggy Pop returned to campus to put on a performance for current students last year. Here's a clip from his performance at local Ann Arbor music venue The Ark on April 19, 2011

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Jules Belkin: The Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Fame might be located in the home state of our longstanding rival, The Ohio State University, but it is the brainchild of a U-M alum. Jules Belkin ('53) received a business degree from the University, which he would eventually utilize as a big-time promoter and producer in the music industry. He and his wife have been active members of the board since the Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Fame's inception in 1983. To read more about his life, see this website

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Greetings from Michigan: In 2003, musician Sufjan Stevens released a concept album entitled "Greetings from Michigan" that literally sang the praises of the Great Lakes State. It includes such numbers titled like "Say Yes! To M!ch!gan!," an alternate version of the tourism slogan used by state officials. In the first of 50 such planned albums, Stevens provides a broad overview to the geography and population of the state of Michigan in this homage. To listen with the lyrics, watch this video:

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The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor has existed since 1837, but it was not until the early 1900's that the University as we recognize it began to take shape. Due to the historic impact that the classical central campus held, every effort was made to preserve the integrity of the original construction of the buildings while upping the utility and the capacity the campus could support. Detroit-based architect Albert Kahn was responsible for the design of majority of these renovations, including the addition of Angell Hall and neighboring buildings.

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University of Michigan is noted for the continued support and allegiance of its extensive alumni network to the school. Dan Dworsky, class of 1950, is no exception. As player on the U-M football team from 1945-1948, he won 2 national championships, and since has contributed to U-M success on the basketball court. In 1967, his design for a new basketball arena came to fruition, and it was later renamed for his former football coach and then current-Athletic Director "Fritz" Crisler.

Him as starting right guard

Updates to the basketball programs

Eero Saarinen: Michigan is distinguished in the sense of pride and unity it represents as a state. U-M has upheld this dedication to homegrown talent, and selected Bloomfield Hills-native Eero Saarinen to develop the master plan for North Campus upon its acquisition in 1952. In addition, Saarinen designed several buildings housed in the area, including the School of Music. As a result of Saarinen's leanings and the time period in which it was built, it It has a more modern feel than its more classical counterpart, Central Campus.

Saarinen's contributions to the campus

More works designed by Saarinen

In the time spent on campus, most people will either hear about or see newly constructed residential and academic area, North Quad. This area was designed with the intent to showcase the University's commitment to sustainability. It is often easy to see the consumers' intent in a building's design, but it is rare to gain insight to the producers' thought process. See the evolution of the North Quad and Mason/Haven Halls as conceived by EYP in the student life section of their website:

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Recently, roughly 6,300 new students stepped foot onto Michigan campus as first-time freshman, and the remaining 20,000 undergrads are less than 4 years removed from the uncertainty of navigating high school and the college admissions process. Midwest-native Curtis Sittenfeld spins a coming-of-age story that is neither fairy tale or fable in its attempt to detail the trials and tribulations of the teenage years. At the conclusion of the novel, heroine Lee Fiora returns to her Midwestern roots and enrolls at the University of Michigan.

It is rare that an author both derives professional inspiration on an academic level, and an artistic level from the same settings. Author and alumnus Susan Holtzer proves the exception, with her attendance of U-M, continued residence in Ann Arbor, and continued inspiration of her time locally in her "Mysteries Featuring Anneke Haagen at University of Michigan." For more information on the various books she has written showcasing U-M and Ann Arbor, see this related site:

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In a more contemporary bent, Detroit-native Jeffrey Eugenides both hailed from Michigan and used it as the backdrop for a much lauded novel. Eugenides used Grosse Pointe, Michigan as the location for his debut novel which was recognized as "enjoy[ing] equal adoration from the critical elite and the public at large, a contemporary heir to The Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird."

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Ann Arbor might not be the sprawling metropolis that nearby Detroit is recognized as being, but it offers cultural opportunities comparable to its neighbor. Most recently, in July, Ann Arbor played host to the 42nd Annual Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair which featured dozens of local artists and their wares. These artists and their works are available for viewing at this website

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U-M campus itself is a magnet for artists and exhibitions. One U-M trained artist is Bernard "Tony" Rosenthal, class of 1936, who created and installed the Cube in Regent's Plaza on campus. In addition, Rosenthal's recognition has transcended his alma mater, and taken to the streets of New York, where he has 3 works permanently placed outdoors.

Not only does U-M nurture its students' artistic endeavors, but it attracts critically acclaimed artists and exhibits for students to appreciate and divine inspiration. To that effect, the University has established the University of Michigan Museum of Art at the corner of S. University and State. To check out what is currently on display and various offerings, check out the Museum's website

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In 2010, American Style Magazine recognized Ann Arbor as being the 22nd best Arts Destination in the nation. A thriving local theater helps support the arts community located in the area, which Ann Arbor Civic Theater is responsible for, in no small part. Recently, they hosted "Avenue Q," and will be producing "Death of a Salesman," and "Much Ado about Nothing" on campus for your viewing pleasure!

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Michigan is not just the birthplace of famous actors, actresses, and writers; playwrights have been recently emerging across the state, especially from close by Detroit.. Neil LaBute is just one of these numerous cases, with the majority of his dramas focusing on the popular themes of gender relations, political correctness, and masculinity. In 2003, one of his plays, "The Shape of Things," was adapted as a big screen indie flick starring Rachel Weisz, Paul Rudd, Gretchen Mol, and Frederick Weller.

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Arthur Miller is perhaps one of U-Mich's most distinguished alums in the performing arts world. A graduate of the undergraduate class of 1938, and receiving an honorary "Doctor of Humane Letters" from his alma mater in 1956, this famous playwright is the author of many widely recognized plays such as "Death of a Salesman, " and "The Crucible," which critique society through lenses of different historical eras. In a more pop culture reference, he was once married to Marilyn Monroe, and has a theatre named for him in the Walgreen Center on campus!

Not every media figure hailing from Michigan has cultivated a high brow following... Heather Renee Sweet, now known as burlesque dancer Dita Von Teese, was born in Rochester, Michigan. She studied classic ballet locally prior to securing a solo performance at age 13 and relocating to California where she chose to channel her dance abilities into other artistic outputs.

Some Michigan natives have achieved great success in their fields by showcasing others' talents, like Paw Paw-born choreographer Jerry Mitchell. This versatile choreographer has arranged the dance sequences for Broadway plays such as "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown," "The Full Monty," and "Hairspray" before making the transition to movies like "Drop Dead Gorgeous" set in fellow Midwestern state Minnesota.