Program History

A number of events and changes within the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) in the 1970s and 1980s have shaped what is currently the Comprehensive Studies Program. There were four major ones:

• The creation of the Opportunity Program by the U of M in 1964.

• The creation of the Coalition for the Use of Learning Skills (CULS) in 1970 in response to Black Student Demands in the first Black Action Movement strike (1968).

• Two reviews of the CULS in the 1970s by LSA faculty committees which recommended the consolidation of all services for underrepresented minority students and other
students who would benefit from these services in 1983. This meant that both
the Opportunity Program (OP) and the CULS would be consolidated so that Opportunity Awards, tutoring (both small group and one on one), co-sponsored Departmental and CSP course sections in key foundational areas, e.g., English and Mathematics, would be under one umbrella. The Office of Undergraduate Admissions would continue to identify “OP” students and place them within this new support program or within the Summer Bridge Program starting in 1975.

• An Increased budget (outlined in the Steiner-Royster memorandum in 1987) which would allow for the hiring of full-time lecturers (instead of GSIs) to teach additional “gateway” subjects (identified by the Yates memorandum prior to the consolidation), i.e., Biology, Chemistry, Economics, English, Physics and Spanish.

The Opportunity Program

The Opportunity Program became “an integral part of the University” in the 15 years after its inception.  The idea was to recruit minority students since these students were historically under-represented in the University of Michigan student body.

By 1970, the Opportunity Program was comprised of 7 full-time Academic Advisors who helped students register for courses and provided a variety of counseling advice of an educational and personal nature. The advisors were noteworthy for their ability to establish and maintain an excellent rapport with each of the students they were assigned to support from matriculation until graduation. The Opportunity Program also provided tutoring which helped students who encountered academic difficulty in a number of natural science courses such as Biology, Chemistry, etc. 

The Coalition for the Use of Learning Skills (CULS)

It was a protest, starting in 1968 and culminating in 1970, which created the CULS which emerged from a proposal written by U of M Arthur Thurnau Professor J. Frank Yates, Executive Director of the Center for Educational Outreach and Adjunct Associate Professor of Psychology, William “Nick” Collins and Wade Boykin, Director of the Developmental Psychology Graduate Program at Howard University.

The CULS offered co-sponsored courses in English and mathematics, e.g., Introductory Composition, Argumentative Writing, Essay Writing, mathematics 105 (data, function and graphs),and mathematics 115- 116 (Calculus I and II). CULS also offered small group tutorials and one on one tutorials in a number of subjects such as Organic and Inorganic Chemistry, lower division Biology and Genetics, Physics 125 and 140.  The consolidated CSP/OP program (prior to the name change to CSP) provided all of the services and courses formerly offered by both programs for approximately 1800 students in the early 1980s.

Administrative  Structure and Leadership

When CULS and the Opportunity Program were consolidated in 1983, the thinking at the time (by the CSP Executive Committee) was that CSP would need two Directors: an Administrative Director and a Faculty Director. This administrative model persisted until 1989 when the current administrative structure, i.e., with one Director and two Associate Directors, was instituted.

The Summer Bridge Program (SBP)

In 1975 CULS, in the college of LSA, created the Summer Bridge Program (SBP). This program was designed to give students-- primarily in-state minority students from inner-city high schools—an opportunity to attend the University of Michigan during the summer to achieve a solid academic foundation for success in the fall term. The idea of the SBP was that it would be “a bridge” between high school and the university which would strengthen the students’ academic foundation in reading, critical thinking, writing, mathematics, note taking and study skills and knowledge of the university’s computing environment. Over time, the SBP has grown tremendously; the 2013 class, for instance, has 217 students and today’s target population is approximately 250 students. 

The Steiner Royster Memorandum (1987)

By 1990 CSP offered Biology 152, 154; Chemistry 130, 210; English 125, 225; Mathematics 105, 115, 116; Spanish 101, 102; and University Courses 150, 210. Full time career lecturers dedicated to teaching and required by their positions to spend more time with students outside class comprised the instructional staff of the unit. Another very unique feature of the CSP’s courses is the idea of intensive courses requiring more time, but making sure the students master the subject matter.

CSP Today

CSP now provides services to over 2,500 undergraduate students. ).  In keeping with the original intent of CSP, classes are still small with an average class size of 22 students. The CSP Staff is comprised of 10 Academic Advisors and 20 faculty.  More recently, CSP provides academic and counseling advice to students in the M-STEM  Academies, e.g.,M-BIO, and Michigan Learning Communities such as the Lloyd Hall Scholars and WISE (Women in Science and Engineering).