It sounds almost too good: Earn your liberal arts degree from one of the nation’s highest-ranked universities, while saving tens of thousands of dollars in the process. A new collaborative program between Henry Ford College and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor allows you to do just that.

Transfer Bridges to the Humanities @ University of Michigan creates a path for HFC humanities majors to study at HFC for two years and then transfer to U-M Ann Arbor’s College of Literature, Science, and the Arts to complete their bachelor’s degree.

The HFC side of the program is funded through a $181,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in New York City. The grant spans 3.5 years and will support students before and during the transfer process. It will also strengthen the collaboration between students and faculty at both institutions.

The Mellon Foundation awarded a complementary grant to UM-Ann Arbor, through its College of LSA, to support the same objectives.

The grant will provide support to all HFC students who wish to transfer to UM-Ann Arbor to study humanities, including honors, non-honors, and HFC Collegiate Academy students. The HFC Collegiate Academy is a dual-enrollment program that provides high-achieving students in the Dearborn Public Schools the opportunity to earn an associate degree just one year after earning their high school diploma.


According to Dr. Michael Nealon, HFC Vice President of Academic Affairs, it is not uncommon for community college students to struggle after transferring to major universities, either because they lack solid support or they lack solid academic preparation. This grant will allow HFC and UM-Ann Arbor to establish transfer processes that are collaborative and will enhance the academic success of transfer students.

The components of the grant are:

  • Recruitment support and advising for HFC humanities students who transfer to UM-Ann Arbor.
  • Curriculum support and capacity building before and after the transfer process, including students studying liberal arts, humanities, and humanistic social sciences to seamlessly transfer from HFC’s Henry Ford II Honors Program to UM-Ann Arbor’s Honors Program.
  • Focus on high-impact practices, including undergraduate research, community-based learning, and socially innovative programs.
  • Support to build capacity among faculty and graduate students to effectively employ inclusive pedagogies at HFC.
  • Support for career coaching and rigorous preparation to ensure transfer students are able to make the most of their education in the humanities.

“HFC Collegiate Academy students will essentially have two years of an undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan paid for by the state,” said Nealon. “Underserved students who need academic coaching and assistance will get intensive academic support through the Transfer Bridges program.”

Another way of ensuring a smooth transition between HFC and UM-Ann Arbor is combining co-curricular activities that will offer HFC students opportunities to connect with UM-Ann Arbor students and faculty. The program will also assist students in understanding how a liberal arts degree can help them in their professional lives.

“Ultimately, establishing transfer protocols on both sides will make these two educational institutions stronger, more innovative in teaching and learning practices, and more responsive to the needs of this distinctive population of students. Most importantly, it will provide the opportunity for students to complete a first-rate educational journey,” said Dr. Jennifer Ernst, dean of the HFC School of Liberal Arts and principal investigator of the grant.

According to Dr. Michael Daher, Henry Ford II Honors Program director, the Honors Program offers a curriculum in the Great Works and a deep commitment to experiential, place-based learning, service learning, and undergraduate research. All of these factors will help ensure HFC students’ success when they transfer to UM-Ann Arbor.

“This grant project will underscore the significance of teaching and learning about the humanities in studies that will span the transition from HFC to U-M,” said Daher. “It will build seamless academic pathways and rich, collaborative experiences for students and faculty at both institutions.”

“This is a tremendous opportunity for us here at HFC,” said Ernst. “It is an honor for HFC to be the first community college in the state to collaborate with U-M on this grant. We hope to serve as a model for other community colleges to ensure the proper support services and the proper transfer processes are in place for humanities students to transfer seamlessly to a world-class university.”

Kurt Anthony Krug

Learn more about the program, or enroll for Fall 2018: