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Regents Notebook: Purchase of former Pfizer campus by ‘U’ nears completion

BY LARA ZADE
Managing News Editor
Published May 17, 2009

The University’s acquisition of the 174-acre former Pfizer Inc. Ann Arbor campus that was initiated in December will be completed next month.

At Thursday’s Board of Regents meeting in Dearborn, Mich., Timothy Slottow, the University’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, announced that the $108 million purchase will be complete on June 16, after the due-diligence period — which ensures that the site complies with state and federal regulations — ends on May 18.

Consultants hired by the University to assess the site briefed the regents on the condition of the land at the site. The consultants told the regents that they used methods approved by American Society Testing Materials to assess the land and that the overall condition of the land is acceptable.

According to Hank Baier, the University's associate vice president for facilities and operations, the site underwent a radiological review, specifically testing for radon and asbestos, and there were no abnormalities.

There was some minor land contamination in a land parcel not actively used by Pfizer, and the company issued a voluntary clean up. The University and Pfizer are currently working with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to discuss the transaction and how to correct it.

John Cameron, a member of the Dickinson Wright PLLC law firm who dealt with the real estate transactions of the Pfizer acquisition, said that Pfizer representatives were very cooperative throughout the due-diligence period and helped the University reach its goal of completing the transaction in June.

“All along the road Pfizer folks were very cooperative, were working toward the same goal that we were working toward and had a successful consummation in transaction, which we’re going to have in about a month.”

According to Baier, the purchase is expected to produce 2,000 to 3,000 jobs in the next decade.

Provost announces 200 faculty promotions

University Provost Teresa Sullivan announced 200 faculty promotions from the instructional, research and clinical tracks, which she and academic reviewers from various schools and colleges had been reviewing since the fall.

The regents approved 149 cases from the instructional track. Cases from research and clinical tracks are not approved by the regents.

Sullivan said that faculty promotions “are one of the most important activities of the University” every year because the decisions that she and academic reviewers make about promotions “shake the University well into the future.”

According to Sullivan, the selection process begins every fall when academic reviewers from each school and college review faculty members who are eligible for promotion and/or tenure. The schools and colleges then conduct thorough and careful reviews of the teaching and research of each candidate and make a decision about recommending the faculty member for tenure or promotion.

Schools and colleges also gather reviews about candidates’ research from experts outside the University.

Sullivan said that this was the second year that the entire process was handled electronically.

University spokeswoman Kelly Cunningham said that it’s too soon to calculate how much the approved promotions for this year will cost.

Cunningham said that last year the promotions cost about $1.9 million, and because this year’s number of approved promotions is about the same, University officials anticipate about the same cost.

Cunningham added that faculty promotions are a planned part of the budget every year. Last year, faculty promotions composed 22 percent of the general fund.

Regents approve building of new soccer stadium

Regents also approved plans to build a 26,000 square-foot soccer stadium, estimated to cost about $6 million.

The stadium will be located west of the Varsity Tennis Center on South State Street at the site of the three soccer fields added in 2008. Athletic department resources and gifts will fund the project.

According to a press release issued at the meeting, the stadium will add grandstand seating for 2,200 people, two team locker rooms, restrooms and concession stands for spectators and a press area.

Bill Martin, the director of intercollegiate athletics, said in the press release that “the goal is to create a European-style stadium with seating on both sides of the field.”

Martin also stated that some of the seats could be covered depending on costs. Currently, the soccer fields only provide temporary bleachers for spectators.

Greg Ryan, the University women’s soccer coach, said in the press release that the stadium will “benefit our players, fans and will play a key role in helping us recruit future quality student-athletes as we continue to rebuild the women’s soccer program.”

The Michigan architectural firm Jickling Lyman Powell Associates Inc. will design the stadium and schematic drawings will be presented at a future regents meeting.

Law School renovations will accept bids for construction contracts

The Law School Academic Building and Hutchins Hall Law School Commons Addition project will accept bids for construction contracts providing that the bids fall within the approved budget after the regents gave their consent at Thursday’s meeting.

The schematic design of the project was approved by regents at the October 2008 meeting.

The new academic building will be approximately 100,000 square feet and will be located south of the Legal Research building and east of Hutchins Hall, the school’s main classroom building. It will boast classrooms, multi-purpose spaces, clinic work spaces and offices for Law School faculty and administrators.

The addition to Hutchins Hall, which hasn’t been renovated since it opened in 1933, will provide group study spaces, gathering spots for students, and a café.

The estimated cost of the project is $102 million and funding will be provided by gifts, investment proceeds and Law School resources.

Construction of the project is scheduled to be completed in 2012.