The University of Michigan Board of Regents met at the Riverfront Conference Center on the University of Michigan-Flint campus for their October meeting Thursday afternoon. The meeting marked University President Santa Ono’s first Regents’ meeting in the role. The Board discussed the creation of a new central ethics, integrity and compliance office, the proposed transformation of the Flint campus and a new building for the College of Pharmacy.
Ono addressed the Board and attendees as the meeting began. He said he is looking forward to fostering an open dialogue with the campus community in his first few months as president. He also announced his intent to formalize an independent ethics, integrity and compliance office. Though the University has an Ethics, Integrity and Compliance department, it currently convenes under the General Counsel. Ono’s proposition will make Ethics, Integrity and Compliance an independent office that oversees compliance issues and misconduct reports for all three campuses and Michigan Medicine.
Paul Brown (D), chair of the Board of Regents, then commented on the Flint Transformation Plan, which was announced at the September meeting. The plan proposes a large investment in Flint’s campus in order to bolster enrollment and improve Flint’s campus.
“(Flint) wants (the transformation plan) to be successful, but no one wants this to be successful more than the Board of Regents,” Brown said.
Timothy Brooks, U-M Flint Student Government president, also addressed the board, expressing his support for the transformation plan while urging the Board to use new funding to support community involvement on campus.
“(Flint student government) wants to increase our campus outreach to the community to allow (Flint) residents to understand that college can be a viable and affordable path to improve their lives, an effort that we need your help in continuing by placing greater priority on community involvement within (the Flint transformation plan),” Brooks said.
Prior to the meeting, a few dozen community members and supporters of the One University campaign (1U) — a student and faculty coalition advocating for tri-campus equity — rallied at the nearby McKinnon Plaza. Their primary concern was about the Huron Group, a management consulting firm hired by the University to provide data analysis for the Flint transformation plan.
Jacquindre Brown, junior at U-M Flint, spoke at the rally, expressing support for 1U’s efforts to advocate for equitable distribution of funds across all departments, including STEM, arts and humanities.
“The most important goal for me is to advocate for the benefit of students, and if we decide to specialize … that would only do the opposite,” Brown said. “Because the private company that was hired to deal with said specialization, the Huron Group, is known to put major cuts in departments (at other universities) … we have concerns that the same will happen here.”
Terae King, senior at U-M Flint, said the disparity in funding between the Ann Arbor campus and the other two campuses is apparent. In 2019, The Detroit Free Press reported that U-M Dearborn and U-M Flint students received about a quarter of the funding that students at the Ann Arbor campus received that same year. He told the crowd he wants the University to continue working towards equity across all three campuses, after 1U successfully advocated for an expanded Go Blue Guarantee and a University-wide $15 minimum wage.
“Here at UofM-Flint we are critical thinkers, determined, and world changers and that is cultivated in the College of Arts and Sciences,” King said. “Let’s reimagine UofM as a university that equips their students to become leaders in our society. … As we begin to reimagine our campus, let’s make sure that our University remains comprehensive.”
The Board then examined the proposed design for a new building for the College of Pharmacy on the Ann Arbor campus. The building design was proposed in 2020, but plans were put on pause during the COVID-19 pandemic. The building would be housed on Central Campus, on the corner of East Huron Street and Glen Avenue.
The Board voted to approve a request to increase the project’s budget by $20 million, from $121 million — the original budget established in 2019 — to $141 million. Construction for the project is currently set to be completed by the fall 2025 semester.
The Board also voted to approve the creation of a new childcare facility on campus for students, faculty and staff in need of childcare. The childcare center will be located on University property at Cornwell Place and the University will work with an outside partner to design the facility, though they have not announced who the partner will be. Board members said the project is intended to address the need for more childcare spaces on campus, and the center will specifically cater to Michigan Medicine employees who need childcare while they are working.
Several members of the U-M Flint community spoke during the public comment session of the meeting. The speakers included several who attended the rally prior to the meeting who raised signs that read “Three Campuses. One University” while addressing the regents.
Ted McTaggart, dispute chair for the University of Michigan Professional Nurses Council (UMPNC), spoke during public comments, bringing up concerns about alleged violations of the new nurse’s contract. UMPNC protested throughout the summer, claiming the University had failed to bargain in good faith after the union’s original contract expired in June. UMPNC reached an agreement with the University in September, which was then ratified by the union later that month. McTaggart specifically alleged that nurses have been forced to work overtime, a practice prohibited in the new contract.
“Our new contract puts an end to forced overtime, which had been used widely throughout our institution for years at great moral and physical harm to our nurses,” McTaggart said. “Since ratification (of the contract) on October 1st, our union has received numerous reports of forced overtime being used in violation of our new contract.”
Correction: a previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the University’s Ethics and Compliance Office functioned under the General Council and the Office of the Vice President. This article has been updated to reflect that the Office is convened under the General Counsel
This article has been updated to clarify that Huron Group will be providing data analytics for the Flint Transformation Plan and give the location of the upcoming childcare center at Cornwell Place.
Daily Staff Reporters Riley Hodder and Irena Li can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.