UAW-Ford University Records: 1995-2001
Summary Information
Title: UAW-Ford University Records
Creator: UAW-Ford University.
Inclusive dates: 1995-2001
Extent: 1.5 linear feet
Location: Portions located in offsite storage; prior notification required for access.
A distance education program designed to provide "university-style approach to workplace education and training" for Ford auto plant workers. Developed at the University of Michigan the Institute for Labor and Industrial Relations (ILIR), and the UM-Dearborn College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters, the program is now centered at University of Michigan-Dearborn. Records include material on the founding of the program and some curriculum material.
Call number: 03113 Bq 2
Language: The material is in English
Repository: Bentley Historical Library
1150 Beal Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2113
Phone: 734-764-3482
Fax: 734-936-1333
Home Page:
Finding aid created by Joel Blanco, 2001

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

The records (Donor no. 9142) were received in September 2001 through the University of Michigan School of Social Work

Access Restrictions:

The record group is open to research.

Access Restrictions for University of Michigan Records

University records are public records and once fully processed are generally open to research use. Records that contain personally identifiable information will be restricted in order to protect individual privacy. Certain administrative records are restricted in accordance with university policy as outlined below. The restriction of university records is subject to compliance with applicable laws, including the Freedom of Information Act.

Categories of Restricted Records:

  • Personnel related files , including search, review, promotion, and tenure files, are restricted for thirty years from date of creation.
  • Student educational records are restricted for seventy-five years from date of creation.
  • Patient/client records are restricted for one-hundred years from date of creation.
  • Executive Officers, Deans and Directors files . By university records policy in effect as of January 1, 2001, University records generated by the university's Executive Officers, Deans, Directors and their support offices are restricted for a period of twenty years from their date of accession by the Bentley Historical Library. The restriction is subject to applicable law, most notably the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
    • Files restricted for 10 years -- records added to a record group in this category prior to January 1, 2001 are restricted for a period of ten years from the date of creation
    • Files restricted for 20 years -- records added to a record group in this category after January 1, 2001 are restricted for a period of 20 years from the date they were added to the record group.

Restricted files are indicated in the contents list with a restriction note indicating the restriction type and the date of expiration.

  • CR (Client/Patient records, 100 years from date of creation)
  • PR (Personnel related records, 30 years from date of creation)
  • SR (Student educational records, 75 years from date of creation)
  • ER (Executive Officers, Deans and Directors records, 20 years from the date the material added to the record group)

For further information on the restriction policy and placing FOIA requests for restricted material, consult the reference archivist at the Bentley Historical Library or the University of Michigan Freedom of Information Office website at:

To protect fragile audiovisual recordings (such as audio cassettes, film reels, and VHS tapes), the Bentley Historical Library has a policy of converting them to digital formats by a professional vendor whenever a researcher requests access. For more information, please see:


Copyright is held by the Regents of the University of Michigan but the collection may contain third-party materials for which copyright is not held. Patrons are responsible for determining the appropriate use or reuse of materials.

Preferred Citation:

[item], folder, box, UAW-Ford University Records, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan


The United Auto Workers-Ford Motor Company (UAW-Ford) University was an outgrowth of programs in the School of Social Work that provided educational counseling to UAW members in Ford plants. In 1996, following a UAW-Ford collective bargaining agreement calling for "a new program dedicated to a university-style approach to workplace education and training," the Institute for Labor and Industrial Relations (ILIR), and the UM-Dearborn College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters (CASL) responded with the "Work, Technology and Society Program." This distance education program is now centered at UM-Dearborn.

One of the key parts of UAW-Ford University was the development of a liberal arts degree program oriented to the auto industry, with plant-based educational programming and distance learning. This project began in 1997, and by Fall of 1998 courses in a new degree program were being offered on a pilot basis in three auto plants. The plan was to expand the project to additional plants, eventually making courses available throughout the UAW-Ford system nationally. The University of Michigan drew upon the resources of both its Ann Arbor and Dearborn campuses in developing this program.

The process of developing the degree program began with a union-management team from the UAW-Ford National Programs Center and a group of faculty and staff at the university. Plant-level studies were undertaken with local plants while a faculty advisory committee lead the curriculum development process within the university.

Several principles set the stage for development. First, there was general agreement that the courses should use Internet technologies with the goal of becoming an online, virtual university. Second, two-way video technology would be used as a transitional approach. Third, courses on CD-ROM and the Internet would be developed as models to be tested for future expansion. Technology was a key instrument for the program. All of the courses were to use computer applications for assignments, access to research collections, class discussion, communications with professors, and other traditional parts of the curriculum.

Student support services was a key area for the implementation of the distance learning enterprise. Three resources for students support services are part of the program: Education Training Coordinators (ETC), Skills Enhancement Program (SEP), and Education Resource Specialists (ERS). The ETCs were in-plant education advisor who aided in recruiting and registering students and provided a range of individualized support. The SEP was an in-plant education center which provides general educational support and assistance with computer skills. Finally, the ERSs were advisors from the University of Michigan who worked directly with the UAW-Ford University program, providing academic advising. They also had a range of administrative and program development responsibilities. The ERSs, working with SEPs and ETCs, formed a network of support staff that engages in active outreach to provide assistance to students.

The UAW Ford University is now a virtual university with a network of accredited colleges and universities that offer courses, certificates, and various degree options using the latest technologies to expand educational opportunities offered to UAW-represented employees.

* Much of the information contained in this history was taken from "Long Summary" in the History and Proposals series, and the University Record article "Units collaborate to offer on-site or at-home courses for Ford workers," October 11, 1999.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The UAW-Ford University record group covers the period from 1995 to 2001 and primarily represents the involvement of the University of Michigan School of Social Work in the development and early administration of the UAW-Ford University and efforts at developing educational counseling and distance education programs. Materials include planning files, CD-ROMs containing examples of curriculum and resources, and various proposals and reports. The records are organized into five series: History and Proposals, Reports, Meetings, Plant-level Studies and Educational Resources.

Subject Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the finding aid database and catalog of The Bentley Historical Library/University of Michigan. Researchers desiring additional information about related topics should search the catalog using these headings.

  • Employees -- Training of -- Michigan.
  • Distance education -- Computer-assisted instruction.
  • Automobile industry workers -- Labor unions -- United States.
  • UAW-Ford University.
  • Ford Motor Company -- Employees.
  • International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace, and Agricultural Implement Workers of America.
  • University of Michigan. School of Social Work.
  • University of Michigan.
Contents List
Request materials for use in the Bentley Library
Container / Location Title
History and Proposals [series]

The History and Proposals series contains correspondence and information regarding the establishment and development of the program. It also contains information about the Smithsonian Award given to UAW-Ford University in 1999. This award is dedicated to persons, organizations and institutions that are leading the information technology revolution. Proposals about budget and continuation activities are also part of this series.

Box   1  
UAW-Ford University History
Box   1  
Distance Learning Presentation; Northwest Ohio College Council April 28, 1995
Box   1  
Correspondence regarding program establishment and development 1996-1997, 1998, 2001
Box   1  
Educating Employees for the Twenty First Century October 28, 1996
Box   1  
Miscellaneous Proposals 1997-1998
Box   1  
Proposed Budget 1997-2000
Box   1  
Proposal for Continuation Activities 1997, 2000
Box   1  
Smithsonian Award Case Study Submission 1999
Box   1  
Smithsonian Award Ceremony 1999
Box   1  
UAW-Ford University Model and Applications January 1996
Reports [series]

The Reports series contains monthly progress reports about the UAW-Ford University development. It also contains evaluation reports from the Fall and Winter terms in the period 1997-1999. Each evaluation report presents an executive summary, findings and recommendations, individual reports and appendixes with data collection, course descriptions and student statistics. The evaluation reports present a complete overview of the development of the program and recommendations to improve it. There are also in this series, research reports, reports on student progress and planning documents.

Box   1  
Evaluation Reports 1997-1999 (5 folders)
Box   1  
Marketing Strategies 2000-2001
Box   1  
Monthly Progress Reports 1998-2001 (23 folders)
Box   1  
Planning Documents 1997-1998 (2 folders)
Box   1  
Report to National Programs Center (NPC) 1998
Research Reports
Box   1  
Benchmarking Activities and the Implications for UAW-Ford University November 30, 1998
Box   1  
Leadership Perspectives, May 6,1999
Box   1  
Renewal Application for Review of Research Protocols Involving Human Subjects 1996-2000
Box   1  
Research for UAW-Ford University Planning: Comparison and Programs, June 30,1999
Box   1  
Statistics and Reports on Students Progress 1997-2000
Box   1  
Status and Accomplishment Summaries 1996-1999
Box   1  
UM-Dearborn Transition Planning Report April 2001
Meetings 1997-2000 [series]

The Meetings series, 1997-2000, contains minutes from the meetings between UAW-Ford National Programs Center (NPC) and the University of Michigan, including meetings with plant representatives.

Box   1  
UAW-Ford NPC and UM 1997-2000 (7 folders)
Box   1  
UAW-Ford NPC, UM and SABCO October 1997
Box   1  
UAW-Ford NPC, UM, Livonia Transmission Plant, Louisville Assembly Plant and Sterling Plant November 10, 1997
Box   1  
UAW-Ford NPC, UM and SAMCO April 20, 1998
Box   1  
UFU Team, Skills Enhancement Program (SEP) Team and UM May 13, 1998
Box   1  
NPC Meeting: Presentation Material September 1, 2000
Box   1  
Orientation Meeting-Walton Hills February 8, 2000
Plant-level Studies 1996-1999 [series]

The Plant-level Studies series, 1996-1999, contains guidelines used for interviews and focus groups. It also includes information about plans to implement plant-level studies in different locations.

Box   2  
Focus Groups Guidelines 1997-1999
Box   2  
Implementation Plan 1998
Box   2  
Interview Guidelines 1997-1998
Box   2  
Orientation Meeting with Local 723/Monroe regarding Local Plant-level Studies 1999
Box   2  
Local Plant Studies Preliminary Reports 1997-1998
Box   2  
Sampling Workers and Survey 1996-1998
Educational Resources 1999-2000 [series]

The Educational Resources series includes information about course offerings, student services and the distance learning program. CD-ROMs from some courses offered in 2000 are part of this series. Each CD-ROM contains a full presentation of the course using video and presentation slides. The media was recorded in Real Networks G2 format. The CD-ROMs are prime examples of the courses and content developed to meet distance education needs and utilize current technologies. The series also includes a videotape about the articulation agreement signing between the Lorain County Community College and the University of Michigan-Dearborn.

Box   2  
Articulation Agreement Signings 1999-2000
Box   2  
Videotape (VHS): Articulation Agreement Signing, Lorain County Community College and UM-Dearborn July 27, 2000
Box   2  
Auto Industry Degree Goals and Potential Course Offerings May 1996
Box   2  
Community Colleges 1999-2000
Box   2  
Correspondence regarding educational programs 1999
Box   2  
Correspondence to students regarding educational information 1998-2000
Course CDs (format: Real Player) 2000 (2 folders)
Box   2  
ENGL 232, Sheryl Pearson
Box   2  
History of Industrial Technology
Box   2  
Sociology 443, James Gruber, Ph.D.
Box   2  
Psychology 320, Pamela McAuslan, Ph.D. D
Box   2  
Psychology 430, Marie Waung (2 optical discs (CDs))
Box   2  
Course Offerings 1998-2001
Distance Learning Program
Box   2  
General Information
Box   2  
Promotions and Brochures
Box   2  
Program Expansion Plan 1999-2000
Box   2  
Project Guidelines for Student Services January 2001
Box   2  
Certificates of Achievement and Registration
Box   2  
Handouts and Brochures
Box   2  
Student Handbook 1999-2000
Box   2  
Student Services, Education Resource Specialists (ERS) and Skills Enhancement Program (SEP) 1997, 1999-2001
Box   2  
Technology Tutorials 2000
Box   2  
Transfer Guide for Associate Degree Students June 2000
UAW-Ford University On-line
Box   2  
Promotional Strategies Guides July 20, 2001
Box   2  
Student Resources
Box   2  
Web Site 2001
Additional Descriptive Data
Related Material

Researchers interested in this program and educational initiatives in auto plants should also consult the following related record groups: University of Michigan School of Social Work-UAW-GM Educational Development Counseling Program, and the University of Michigan Employment Transition Program.

In 1999, UAW-Ford University received a Computerworld Smithsonian Award. The project is part of the Smithsonian Institution's Permanent Research Collection on Information Technology and part of an exhibit on the history of information technology.