The University of Michigan Board of Regents met at the U-M Dearborn Campus Thursday to discuss dean appointments, approve updates to the president’s house and more at their May meeting.
Interim President Mary Sue Coleman began the meeting by addressing the recent racially motivated shooting last Friday, in which ten people were killed at a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.
“There is no place for hate or intolerance in our communities,” Coleman said. “This weekend’s tragedy was the worst disregard for fellow human beings. This is why we, as a University community, devote so much energy and resources to upholding inclusion, diversity and equity as institutional values. It is our way to demonstrate our belief in a just and supportive society where all are respected.”
Regent Jordan Acker (D) then spoke on Money Magazine ranking the University as the No. 1 college in the country for value based on affordability, quality of education and student outcomes. Acker said the ranking represents the University’s commitment to affordable education.
“Our work over the past decade to make this moment happen really means a lot to the students, their parents and to the future of what our institution looks like,” Acker said. “I want to say especially the Go Blue Guarantee … that we offer on all three campuses is a really groundbreaking moment in higher education.”
Regent Denise Illitich (D) then discussed the regents’ work to address sexual misconduct. Illitch said Guidepost Solutions, a firm hired by the regents in December 2020 to implement recommendations from WilmerHale’s report on former University Provost Martin Philbert’s sexual misconduct, recommended the implementation of an Office of Ethics and Compliance. According to Illitch, the University of Michigan and the University of Iowa are the only two Big 10 universities without these offices.
“Sexual misconduct remains dramatically underreported, and anonymous complaints are at an all-time high,” Illitch said. “It is critical that we implement this recommendation so our community has a safe place to report.”
Illitch said the regents recently received a memorandum in which University administrators raised several concerns about the implementation of an Office of Ethics and Compliance. In response, Illitch referenced a resolution passed by the Senate Assembly Committee on University Affairs in an April 20 meeting calling for the creation of this office and said the University’s history of sexual misconduct indicates its necessity.
Interim provost Laurie McCauley, who took office earlier this month, then announced the recommendation of Sharon F. Matusik as the next Edward J. Frey Dean of Business at the School of Business, Vicki Ellingrod as the Dean of the College of Pharmacy and Carlos Jackson as Dean of the School of Art & Design. Matusik will begin her tenure on August 1 and will serve a five-year term through July 31, 2027. Ellingrod and Jackson will begin July 1 and serve through June 30, 2027.
All three deans were approved by the regents.
The regents also approved McCauley’s recommendation of Tabbye M. Chavous as the next vice provost for equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer. Chavous will replace Robert Sellers in July and will serve for an initial five-year term through July 31, 2027.
The regents then approved a $15 million update for the president’s residence on South University Avenue and $9.5 million for the construction of a temporary Central Campus Recreation Building (CCRB) on Palmer Field following the planned demolition of the current CCRB after the Fall 2022 semester. Plans to construct a new CCRB were approved during the regents’ March meeting.
The regents also approved a change to their own public commenters policy. The change will increase the number of commenters who can speak at Board of Regents meetings from 15 to 18 and decrease the allotted time per commenter from three minutes to two minutes. The regents moved into the public commenters portion of the meeting in accordance with these new rules.
Rackham student Larson Lovdal addressed the regents on the issue of carbon neutrality. Lovdal emphasized that the University committed to creating and filling the position of special advisor to the president on carbon neutrality nearly a year ago, but little progress has been made in doing so.
“One year ago, the president committed to creating and filling a new carbon neutrality executive leader role in the coming months, and here we stand a year later without even a job description,” Lovdal said. “Students are mobilizing because there’s a clear lack of urgency, an evident lack of senior and strategic leadership in implementing this binding commitment to carbon neutrality.”
Renee Curtis, a nurse and president of the nurses’ union at Michigan Medicine, spoke on the ongoing shortage of nurses and support staff.
“In the ER where I work and throughout Michigan Medicine, nurses face excessive workloads and long hours that directly result from understaffing,” Curtis said. “The regents need to ensure that U of M hires and retains sufficient nurses to end the risks associated with excessive nursing workloads.”
A University of Michigan study published April 20 highlighted the impacts of unsafe and understaffed workplaces for nurses, which were prevalent before the pandemic and exacerbated by its arrival. Researchers highlighted the impact of COVID-19 on nurse retention, concluding that the pandemic was a large contributor to nurses leaving their positions and the worsening staff shortage.
2022 LSA graduate Catherine Hadley spoke on childcare access and equity at the University.
“When I came to campus, I came here knowing that we both made a promise to becoming Leaders and the Best, and I worked hard to uphold that promise through my work,” Hadley said. “I’m asking you today to extend that promise of Leaders and Best into our childcare ecosystems.”
Prior to the regents meeting, childcare advocates held a rally at the U-M Dearborn campus to call on the University to strengthen its efforts toward childcare equity and enroll in the Tri-Share program. Tri-Share is a statewide pilot program in which the cost of childcare is split equally between the eligible employee, the employer and the state of Michigan. Eligible employees are defined as those with incomes between 185% and 300% of the Federal Poverty Line.
In an interview with The Michigan Daily, Hadley emphasized the importance of centering childcare in all University-wide equity efforts.
“Diversity, equity and inclusion, which we talk about a lot on campus, cannot happen if we do not have childcare access,” Hadley said. “When we look at who student caregivers are, they tend to be women and they tend to be women of color. Childcare is essential to the foundation of our DEI and without it, we won’t have a true attempt at creating equity on our campus.”
Rising UM-Flint sophomore Annie Babiasz, a representative for the One University campaign, highlighted recent cuts to academic programs on the Flint campus and called on the University to increase funding for the College of Arts & Sciences.
“I love Flint, and I believe that the Flint campus has a unique opportunity to serve the community and be a beacon of opportunity and enrichment,” Babiasz said. “However, for this to happen, my campus needs robust financial support for programs and education in the College of Arts & Sciences. I’m here today to ask you for that support. Flint deserves to have a college campus with a wide range of course offerings for all of its students.”
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