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Regents discuss high endowment return at monthly meeting

By Paige Pearcy, Daily News Editor
Published October 19, 2012

The University’s Board of Regents faced a hefty agenda at its annual Flint campus meeting at the on Friday, from discussion of the annual endowment report to approval of renovations to the University’s Softball Service Building.

After opening remarks from University President Mary Sue Coleman, in which she encouraged voter participation on Election Day, the board delved into discussion on the University’s endowment, which yielded a higher return than many fellow colleges, before approving honorary degree recipients for winter commencement and discussing the pending NHL Winter Classic game in the Big House, among other items.

During the meeting, Regent Katherine White (D–Ann Arbor) spoke on the investment report for fiscal year 2012, noting that the University’s endowment had one of the highest returns in comparison to those of other universities.

“Distributions for the University of Michigan endowment increased for the ninth straight year despite a slight decline in the total value of the endowment to $7.7 billion for fiscal year that ended June 30, 2012,” White said.

White attributed the decrease in the overall value of the endowment to spending made from the funds, derived from transfers and gifts.

White added that the endowment’s long-term performance is of particular interest because it is substantially higher than the S&P 500 — an index of stock market prices based on major companies — 10-year return.

“The endowments annualized 10-year return … is 9.6 percent and that is ahead of the custom benchmark by 2.1 percentage points and is well ahead of the well- known S&P stock index which has gained 5.3 percent annualized over the same 10 year period,” White said.

Honorary degree recipients approved

The regents also approved the six honorary degree recipients for winter commencement, including commencement speaker Raynard Kington, the president of Grinnell College.

Michael Boyd, Molly Dobson, Cornelia Kennedy, Joschka Fischer, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Raynard Kington, will receive honorary degrees in December after being selected by the Honorary Degree Committee from a list of potential recipients.

Dee Dee Bridgewater, a singer and songwriter from Flint, will receive her degree at the UM-Flint ceremony, while the others will receive their honorary degrees at the ceremony in Ann Arbor.

Of the recipients, three are University alumni — Dobson, Kennedy and Kington. Kington, Coleman pointed out at the meeting, is a “double-alum” as he received his undergraduate degree when he was 19 and his M.D. when he was 21 from the University Medical School, under a joint program that no longer exists.

Kington, who will deliver the keynote address, is the first African-American and openly gay president of Grinnell College. Formerly, he was the deputy director of the National Institutes of Health.

Softball facility to be rebuilt and updated

Upon a proposal from Timothy Slottow, the University’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, and Athletic Director David Brandon, the regents approved a $4 million demolition and rebuilding of the University’s Softball Service Building.

Slottow said at the meeting the project will be funded by Athletic Department resources.

No schematic design for the structure was presented at this meeting. However, with the approval of the regents, Integrated Architecture will begin designing the building.

Regents discuss temporary liquor license for Winter Classic

Though the start of the NHL season is still pending due to an ongoing lockout which has caused games through at least Nov. 1 to be cancelled, the regents discussed logistics for the upcoming Winter Classic, slated to be held in the Big House on Jan. 1, 2013.

The issue at hand was how a liquor license would be obtained. Slottow reported that Sodexo, the food supplier for the event, would be able to apply for and obtain the license.

However, should the event be postponed until next year, the board discussed that in addition to obtaining a separate liquor license, the entire contract for the event will have to be renegotiated.

Regents approve re-appointment of Architecture and Urban Planning Dean

In the consent agenda portion of the meeting, University Provost Phil Hanlon proposed the re-appointment of Monica Ponce de Leon as the Dean of the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning.

Ponce de Leon was first appointed in 2008 and will now be serve her second of the two allotted four-year terms for deans.

Hanlon said Ponce de Leon holds high standards for the college and has been progressive in her methods as dean.

“She’s put in place innovative incentives for interdisciplinary research and creative practice as a way to address complex environmental, economic and societal challenges,” Hanlon said.

January regents’ meeting to be held in Los Angeles

Instead of holding its planned meeting on Jan. 17, Regent Denise Ilitch (D–Bingham Farms) announced the board will instead hold a two-day informal session on Jan. 17 and 18 in Los Angeles.

Ilitch said the meeting is important because with decreased state financial support, California is the second largest out-of-state donor base and has the second largest alumni base, next to Michigan.

“This special informal session will take place … so that the board can meet with major donors, alumni and thought leaders in higher education who are based in California,” Ilitch said.


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