The University Insider is The Daily’s first faculty and staff-oriented newsletter. This weekly newsletter will give U-M faculty and staff the ability to see the most important issues on campus and in Ann Arbor — particularly those related to administrative decisions — from the perspective of an independent news organization. It will also provide a better understanding of student perspectives.
At the University of Michigan’s Board of Regents’ September meeting, Jerry May, the University’s vice president for development, announced that the University had raised a record-breaking $476 million from 130,000 donors in fiscal year 2017, which ended June 30.
“We not only had one of the best summers that we’ve ever had, but we had the best year in terms of cash and private support,” he said.
May also provided updates on the progress of the University’s Victors for Michigan fundraising campaign, saying it had raised $4.24 billion from 346,000 total donors so far.
Of those donors, 8,700 were students and 20,100 were faculty, staff or retired University staff or faculty. The campaign has raised $979 million for student support so far, just short of its goal of $1 billion –– and the campaign, University President Mark Schlissel pointed out, still has 16 months before its scheduled end date of January 2019.
Schlissel also thanked May for his work with the campaign and effectiveness in fundraising in general, saying the University’s supporters and competitors often passed along praise of May to him.
“You really do make blue go,” Schlissel said.
Construction and Renovation
Several of the regents debated raising the cost threshold for construction and renovation projects not requiring regent approval from $1 million to $3 million. Kevin Hegarty, the University’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, proposed the measure, which ultimately passed 5-3, saying $3 million was still a relatively low threshold.
“Projects that fall in the $1 million to $3 million dollar cost range are typically of a routine, capital maintenance nature,” he said. “Things like replacing air conditioners, replacing heaters, replacing damaged or failed drain lines, doing building repairs, street repairs, etc.”
Several regents opposed the measure, however. Regent Shauna Ryder Diggs (D) said she felt a fiduciary responsibility to students to require stricter procedures for approval, citing rising tuition costs.
“I’m not in favor of this proposal because I think the $3 million limit is too high,” she said. “This is not about trust –– I trust the executive officers –– this is about how I feel about oversight of public dollars, particularly when the limit is reaching the same amount of money that I hope for for tuition increase.”
Regent Ron Weiser (R) was one of the regents in favor of raising the threshold, saying the ability to expedite the approval process could ultimately end up saving the University money on construction contracts.
“Having some knowledge of construction, because of the shortage of labor and contractors, the cost of projects can go up if they can’t fit them in a certain time period,” he said. “So for these kinds of projects, quite often, if we can’t move quickly, the price is going to be quoted at a higher rate, because by the time we get back to them they might not have the time periods available to make them.”
The regents also approved schematic designs for 24,000 square feet of renovations to the Schembechler Hall football performance center, which will include a state-of-the-art treatment and recovery facility, hydrotherapy pools and administrative spaces.
Plans for renovations to the Oosterbaan Field House, which include replacing lighting, practice surfaces and the roof of the facility, were approved in February.
Citing the large size of the football team, the goal of the renovations is to provide a more unified space where all athletes can practice simultaneously.
Schlissel, Sarkar welcome students back to school
President Schlissel welcomed the regents back for the first meeting of the academic year and expressed his concern for all those on campus affected by Hurricanes Irma and Harvey.
“I want to express my sympathies for those in the University community affected by recent natural disasters,” he said. “All of the students from Texas are safe and sound here on campus.”
Schlissel then announced the formation of a search committee for the next University of Michigan-Dearborn chancellor, which will begin with two Dearborn campus town halls Sept. 29 and Oct. 2. The committee consists of wide range of faculty and professors, stemming from all three University campuses.
As with all executive officer selection processes, the procedure will remain confidential until Schlissel provides his recommendation to the Board of Regents.
The regents also received their first report from LSA senior Anushka Sarkar, president of Central Student Government.
While Schlissel did not address the recent defacing of the Rock, which was covered with anti-Latino and pro-Trump graffiti, Sarkar noted the importance of calling out forces that threaten the well-being of University students, no matter how controversial they may be.
“I want to emphasize the importance of speaking out in the face of happenings simply beyond the campus that impact our Michigan community,” she said. “When forces beyond the confines of the University of Michigan campus threaten any member of the University of Michigan’s community, it is our collective responsibility –– every person at this table –– to support, protect and stand in solidarity with the students who are being impacted. I will also note that supporting, protecting and standing in solidarity with members of our Michigan community who are being threatened by these forces sometimes means pushing the envelope and being outspoken in your support.”
Sarkar also mentioned several CSG initiatives for the upcoming year, including “Know Your Rights” workshops following the recent DACA decision, alcohol-free tailgates on high-risk game days and increasing first year student involvement in student government.