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Posted on Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 12:35 p.m.

University of Michigan featured on Colbert Report as a school 'doing it right'

By Kellie Woodhouse

The Colbert Report
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The University of Michigan was highlighted as an example of a college "doing it right" and "challenging" undergraduates during Tuesday's episode of Comedy Central's 'Colbert Report.'

Comedian and show host Stephen Colbert discussed higher education and college standards with guest Richard Hersh, an education consultant and co-author of We're Losing our Minds: Rethinking American Higher Education.


Stephen Colbert talks to higher education guru Richard Hersh.

"You say theres a crisis in education right now where colleges aren't doing what they're supposed to be doing. Who's doing it right out there?" Colbert asked his guest.

Hersh highlighted Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Virginia and University of Michigan as schools that "have cultures that are very challenging."

"University of Michigan as an undergraduate school does some wonderful work with students," Hersh told Colbert.

"And what does that mean?" Colbert asked. "What do you mean the wonderful work? Because there's some things that all students can appreciate when they go to college. You know, gaining 15 pounds and being in an a cappella group. Those are universal. What is like a specific thing that a college might do different?"

Hersh responded:

"That no matter which course they take, or at least for most courses, they're being asked to actually engage in serious thought, lots of reading, lots of writing and getting a lot of assessment and feedback. And where in fact they are challenged all the time, rather than simply taking courses for credit hours and getting a diploma."

A U-M alumnus was featured on a 'Colbert Report' segment on Occupy Wall Street in October.

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Fri, Apr 13, 2012 : 5:03 a.m.

The Michigan Difference!! A good one to be sure. Since Stephen Colbert is a comedian noted for his parodies of the "Conservative Movement" it's certainly no surprise that Conservative Movement Trolls have weighed in with their tiresome litany of japes. Too bad, CMTs, you're losing your battle with civilization just based on the "quality" of your thinking- versus the massive positive contributions of the University of Michigan. :-)

Tony Pradhan

Fri, Apr 13, 2012 : 1:13 a.m.

Ujniversity of Michigan Ann Arbor is a great Academic School Great job---------


Thu, Apr 12, 2012 : 2:49 a.m.

Just saying. I am currently a U of M student graduating in a few weeks. I grew up in southwest Detroit, where as most of you know, education lacks. My act scores for math were extremely low, but luckily I had decent writing/reading skills thanks to one amazing teacher. I was at the top of my class, but at the bottom of U of M's average. I was the first student from my high school to be accepted to U of M. My sister will be the second. I was given a chance. For the first 3 years at U of M, I had to find a tutor for all of my math and science courses, but I held on. U of M was not easy for me, it challenged me in every way possible, but now I've been accepted to Harvard graduate school. If it hadn't been for my professors, I wouldn't be where I am now. They helped me get through the impossible. U of M continues to pick top students, and if you are given a chance, you will have to study your ass off like I did. ***sorry for the terrible writing, but I have finals to study for! I just wanted to support a great school.


Thu, Apr 12, 2012 : 12:46 p.m.

Congratulations to you! Your story made my morning. You are obviously a determined person, and it is wonderful that UM gave you an opportunity and the means to achieve, but the hard work was all yours.

Jeff Renner

Thu, Apr 12, 2012 : 3:13 a.m.

Hooray for you! Go get 'em at the Michigan of the east. And best wishes for your sister as well.


Thu, Apr 12, 2012 : 3:03 a.m.

Best comment so far, by far. Congrats, Life, on your accomplishments, and good luck at Harvard.


Thu, Apr 12, 2012 : 12:29 a.m.

I am not a venom spewing Michigan "hater", nor do I partake in rapid genuflection to the point of being considered a scynofant. I am a M grad and have a parent that is a Professor Emeritus. Even if it was only on "Colbert", the author Richard Hersh is a recognized expert on higher education. His compliment is well taken. He has done several articles for Atlantic available online (and cheaper than the $67.30 his book is going for on Amazon). For those that continue to just keep whistling a happy tune past problems and potential solutions, I suggest reading some of his articles. You may find that some of the "haters" have been pointing out similar areas for improvement.


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 11:06 p.m.

How come you guys rarely report all the great news out of EMU? On April 1st our Information Assurance club got 1st place in Information Security Talent Search (ISTS). Where was the news coverage when EMU researcher Frank Fedel won top prize from NASA design competition on March 16th?


Thu, Apr 12, 2012 : 1:07 a.m.

For the same reason they do not report news about WMU, NMU, MSU,... How come does not cover U-M?


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 11:57 p.m.

I don't think there is anything organized about how the coverage happens. It would be great if someone (like you, maybe) would post notices about EMU. There is the community wall, or you could email tips to the reporting staff. They'd probably welcome the help and the EMU beat would be better covered.

Marshall Applewhite

Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 10:01 p.m.

As someone who began at an out of town school and ended up transferring into U of Michigan, I can say this is absolutely true. The school I began at did a decent job of educating students, but an intelligent kid could still get As with a very minimal amount of effort. There are areas of undergrad I think UofM could improve on, but increasing students' capacity to do work and forcing them to think outside the box are certainly things they do exceptionally well(contrary to the local Ann Arbor population).

Michael K.

Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 9:49 p.m.

The only reason most people live near Ann Arbor is because it is a college town, with all of the great cultural amenities that go along with that. We're it not for Ann Arbor we would have left the state in 2008 with the collapse of the Michigan economy. It is incredible to see all of the angry,mostly old, mostly men hating at everything on this site. Pretty pathetic.


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 8:48 p.m.

His show is on Comedy Central and is mostly satrical and comedy written. Why anyone would take any of his comments and guests seriously is beyond me.


Thu, Apr 12, 2012 : 3:38 p.m.

Oh yeah? Sputter . . . sputter . . .

Unusual Suspect

Thu, Apr 12, 2012 : 1:57 p.m.

Satire and humor CAN BE shortcuts to larger truths. And then there's Colbert.


Thu, Apr 12, 2012 : 12:24 p.m.

Satire and humor are shortcuts to larger truths, my long-eared friend.


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 8:32 p.m.

As a current undergrad student that is about to graduate, I can verify that I work my ass off and very challenged. Most of the faculty works very hard to inspire students and help. If it were not for my advisers working with me I would be in a far worse place. As far as its sole topic being money Big Dog, every business is about money. And all that money the university brings in goes right into the local economy. Between the school itself, the hospital, sporting events that increase business for small local stores, Ann Arbor is only successful because of how successful the university is. For anyone that does not agree with Hersh then you should file an application, see if you can even this great university and take a class or two for yourself.


Fri, Apr 13, 2012 : 4:38 a.m.

Dave, thank you for confirming what thousands of Michigan alumni know: this university MAKES YOU WORK and enables serious thinking about serious subjects. The trolls here are typical NON-graduates of the University of Michigan. I'm sure many trolls want to deny your assertion about Ann Arbor's success, but it doesn't take a college degree to see the clear (and huge) connection between this city and its resident university. U of M has spent ~ half a billion dollars in the last 5 years on construction projects alone. What other cities can boast such a boost to the local and state economies? I married a U of M grad here in A2 37 years ago -when she held a prestigious job at ISR. Our daughter graduated from U of M 14 years ago - just as I always PREDICTED she would - on a full academic scholarship and with two majors in the sciences. It's worth noting that, if not for A2 schools being so good (in association with the U of M), our daughter might not have even been accepted. So there's all the tie-in needed. Best wishes to you and congrats on your graduation. I hope you will find as our daughter has that a degree from U of M pays big dividends in career and in life.


Thu, Apr 12, 2012 : 3:40 p.m.

I am sorry for my satrical reply to your post.


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 7:40 p.m.

and then there are athletes egghead


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 7:36 p.m.

everybody is entitled to their own opinion i guess.


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 6:13 p.m.

Sounds good. Here's more national attention for Michigan, not so nice though. Rachel Maddow skewers MI state Republicans' tricky maneuvers in Lansing:

Usual Suspect

Thu, Apr 12, 2012 : 1:31 a.m.

Rachel Maddow? Huffington Post? Wow.


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 7:42 p.m.

Rachel Maddow's opinion has as much value as a piece of toast. The only the thing Maddow skewers is common sense.


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 5:55 p.m.

Hail to the Braggarts.......blah, blah, blah.......big bunch of nothing......

Dr. Fate

Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 6:35 p.m.

You mad lil bro?

Dog Guy

Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 5:43 p.m.

Hersh held up his end of the conversation with Colbert, but with "University of Michigan as an undergraduate school does wonderful work with students." he topped Colbert in comedy. Not in decades of social gatherings have I heard anyone on the U of M faculty mention students; their sole university topic is money.


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 7:30 p.m.

sorry you didn't get in, sir, but your comment is just malarky.


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 5:25 p.m.

Congrats once again to UM .... now watch the local UM haters come out to spew their venom.


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 8:53 p.m.

YpsiVeteran, who's congratulating anyone for a "decent" education? Michigan is being praised for an outstanding education. When I needed a police officer and they've done an outstanding job, I thanked him profusely. When a grocery store does an outstanding job--really fresh produce, finding ways to make the experience more efficient, etc--I recommend that store to my friends. Every university (or almost every) will challenge its students, but Michigan is being praised for doing it really well and providing an outstanding education. That's not something that's easy, nor is it something that can be done without a huge amount of effort to support it. Thus, it seems to me like it's deserving of praise.


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 6:23 p.m.

M, apparently you don't see how it works. Basketball is not the U's core function. Education is. Congratulating them on something that's extracurricular is appropriate. Get it now?


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 5:37 p.m.

Holy moly YpsiVeteran. Replace "university" and "education" with literally any other activity, and you can see why your argument is bunk. Is "venom" the only explanation you can come up with for the fact that congratulating the university's basketball players for winning the game is like congratulating a cop for responding to a traffic accident or congratulating a grocery store for selling groceries? The fact that many basketball players are failures doesn't mean UM should be "congratulated" for actually doing its job. See how that works?


Wed, Apr 11, 2012 : 5:29 p.m.

Is "venom" the only explanation you can come up with for the fact that congratulating the university for providing a decent education is like congratulating a cop for responding to a traffic accident or congratulating a grocery store for selling groceries? The fact that many colleges are failures doesn't mean UM should be "congratulated" for actually doing its job.