Santa Ono sits at a table as he gets interviewed.
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The University of Michigan’s Board of Regents met at the Riverfront Center on the U-M Flint campus Thursday afternoon to discuss alcohol sales at Michigan sports stadiums and approve plans for a new Center for Innovation in Detroit, as well as several new faculty appointments.  The Board met at the Center to fulfill their tradition of meeting at the Flint campus once a year.

Ono began the meeting with his opening remarks, including an acknowledgement of the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. Members of the U-M campus community, including Students Allied for Freedom and Equality, responded to Ono’s Oct. 10 statement on the Israel-Hamas war by organizing a sit-in at the President’s House on Oct. 13. 

Ono said he recognizes how ongoing violence has impacted the campus community and said the University will continue to prioritize campus safety.

“It has been a difficult two weeks for many in our community, indeed, around the world,” Ono said. “Here in Flint, in Ann Arbor and in Dearborn, campus safety is, and always will be, our highest priority … We hope for peace, and mourn the loss of lives in Israel and Gaza.”

In the public comments section of the meeting, U-M Flint senior Aceil Shamieh said, from her perspective as a Palestinian American with family in Gaza, she believes the University should be doing more to support its Palestinian and Muslim students. Shamieh said she thinks the University should divest from all companies aiding the occupation of Palestine and officially condemn violence against Palestinians. 

“I want to remind you that a Palestinian life is a human life,” Shamieh said. “We as students call upon President Ono and the Board of Regents to urge for divestment from companies directly aiding the occupation of Palestinians, and to offer an unapologetic, long overdue condemnation of the last 75 years of colonial violence.” 

Ono then recognized Michelle Casey, who the University recently hired as the inaugural head of the Office of Ethics, Integrity and Compliance — an office that was announced at last year’s Flint meeting. Casey currently serves as the executive director of the state of Illinois’ Executive Ethics Commission, and will begin her role with the University in January.

Regent Denise Ilitch (D) presented the annual Presidential Review as part of the Personnel, Compensation and Governance committee report. Ilitch highlighted Ono’s accomplishments in his first year as president, and remarked on the impact of his leadership style.

“(Ono) established a culture of listening and feedback, transparent and engaged decision making as a hallmark of his leadership style, and an expectation of all leadership team members,” Ilitch said. “President Ono promoted scholarly excellence and academic innovation, in many ways including research. So he really hit the ground running.”

The Board then announced they will increase Ono’s salary in response to his strong performance in the past year. Ono’s salary will increase by 4%, from $975,000 per year to $1.014 million per year, and he will also receive a bonus of $50,000.

Lina Azeim, U-M Flint student body president, addressed the Board to offer insight into U-M Flint’s student identities and needs. Azeim said she believes the University’s leaders should work to learn more about the Flint campus and recognize that the decisions they make have an impact on every U-M campus, especially one as diverse as Flint’s. 

“Today I call on you, our University’s leaders, to not only learn more about the special identities that Flint holds, but to embrace it in how you represent our campus,” Azeim said. “I ask of you to be more present on our campus, include Flint in more conversations and focus on extending Ann Arbor’s wealth of resources to Flint. The decisions made for our campus require the same deep consideration for the impact they hold on Ann Arbor’s campus.”

The Board then approved Law School professor Kyle Logue to serve as the interim dean of the Law School beginning Jan. 1, 2024 and ending when a permanent dean is found. Logue has worked as a professor at the University since 1993.

Athletics Director Warde Manuel then addressed the Board to request approval for an estimated $14 million in renovations to the Schembechler Hall team locker room. Manuel also requested approval for an expected $11 million in renovations and expansions to the William Davidson Player Development Center. All funding will come from donations to the athletic department. The Board unanimously approved the renovations. 

Manuel also asked for approval to apply and maintain Class C liquor licenses for Yost Ice Arena, Crisler Center and Michigan Stadium. The liquor licenses would legally allow alcohol to be purchased at the three venues. Manuel also asked for approval to begin the implementation of alcohol sales at Yost and Crisler starting this season. The board approved this unanimously.

Manuel said a vote to preemptively approve the implementation of alcohol sales at Michigan Stadium will be delayed until the Board and Athletic Department can review data from implementing alcohol sales at Yost and Crisler. 

“The board will vote on the implementation of the Class C liquor license for Michigan Stadium at a later date, after careful consideration and review of data and the experience at the other two venues,” Manuel said.

Following these decisions, the board also approved agreements related with the construction and development of U-M Center for Innovation in Detroit. Specifically, they approved a $100 million gift agreement with the project donor Stephen M. Ross, a donation of 2.08 acres of land made by the Olympia Development of Michigan to build the center, the purchase of an additional 1.18 acres to build a parking structure and the hiring of architectural firm Kohn Pedersen Fox to design the building.

Regent Mark Bernstein (D) said the project demonstrates the University’s commitment to innovation, and will positively impact the city of Detroit.

“The action we have just taken — approving the construction of the University of Michigan Center for Innovation in Detroit — elevates our commitment to Detroit and the state of Michigan to a new level,” Bernstein said. “This center will advance innovation and talent-focused community development to propel job creation and inclusive economic growth by stimulating economic development in the city of Detroit.”

During the public comments section of the meeting, Callum Carr, U-M Flint archivist and Lecturers’ Employee Organization-Galleries, Libraries Archives and Museums member, said they believe the University is not sufficiently listening to faculty feedback about the Flint Transformation Project

“You don’t know Flint and you don’t know our community,” Carr said. “And with the consistent dismissal of faculty feedback it indicates that you are unwilling to learn. I know I’m in no position to demand anything so I will resort to our only option. Please, please allow us to have meaningful input into our campus.”

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