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The University of Michigan Board of Regents convened at the Alexander G. Ruthven Museums Building Thursday afternoon to discuss plans for a new residence hall on Central Campus, University President Santa Ono’s upcoming visit to the Dearborn campus and potential expansions to Michigan Medicine facilities.
Thursday’s meeting marks the final time the Board will meet in 2022. Ono opened the meeting by congratulating Regents Michael Behm (D) and Katherine White (D) for being reelected to the Board.
Ono went on to announce the University’s plan to design and build a new 2,300-bed residence hall for first-year students. The project would be built on the current Elbel Field site – where the Michigan Marching Band practices — as the location for the new structure and would include a dining hall and other student resources. Ono said the project is intended to accommodate the University’s growing student body, with enrollment increasing by almost 10% over the last five years to over 51,000 enrolled students in 2022.
“On-campus housing has simply not kept pace with (the University’s) enrollment growth,” Ono said. “We will initiate the process of hiring an architect to design the first housing that we’ve built specifically for first-year students since 1968.”
Ono moved on to talking about his commitment to engage with the University’s Dearborn campus. He said he planned to visit the Dearborn campus on Friday to hold a town hall to hear input about U-M administration from U-M Dearborn community members. The One University Campaign in particular has been working over the past couple of years to promote equity across all three campuses, including calling for equal funding and asking for U-M administration to consider the unique needs of each campus.
U-M Dearborn sophomore Wasey Rehman attended the meeting as a public commenter and said he plans to attend tomorrow’s town hall and is looking forward to welcoming Ono to the Dearborn campus.
“(Tomorrow) is more than just a visit,” Rehman said. “Tomorrow is a reception to welcome you, President Ono, and (marks the) inception of a new relationship between the Office of the President and (Dearborn students).”
At the meeting, U-M Dearborn Chancellor Domenico Grasso said over 250 students, faculty and staff had registered for the town hall as of Thursday.
After the meeting opened to public comments, members of the Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) spoke about their concerns regarding their ongoing contract negotiations with the University.
GEO president Jared Eno said the University’s Academic Human Resources team has refused to meet with GEO during some sessions of the bargaining process, and no progress has been made on several of their proposals, including increased wages and improved healthcare for transgender graduate employees.
“We’re having trouble getting Academic Human Resources to talk to us,” Eno said. “Since (the first bargaining) session, HR has been unwilling to talk to us about our substantive proposals. Instead, they’ve forced us into weeks of talks about the technicalities of how we bargain rather than what we’re bargaining … We just want to meet and negotiate in good faith.”
Marschall Runge, U-M Medical School Dean and Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, spoke about several new developments at Michigan Medicine, including their recent acquisition of the Sparrow Health System, a Lansing-based healthcare organization which operates several hospitals across Central Michigan.
“This agreement will enable us to further our goals of creating the premier statewide system of highly coordinated care, while expanding our mission as a statewide referral site for most critically ill patients,” Runge said.
Runge also announced that the Michigan Medicine Pavilion will be renamed as the D. Dan and Betty Kahn Health Care Pavilion after the pair donated $50 million to support its construction. The pavilion, which is scheduled to open in fall 2025, will add 154 new beds to the medical campus and will feature new surgical and radiology suites.
“The late D. Dan and Betty Kahn are dedicated to improving lives and this gift is a beautiful legacy of their commitment to service and scientific discovery,” Runge said.
Daily News Editor Irena Li can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily Staff Reporter Matthew Shanbom can be reached at email@example.com.
Daily News Contributor Sam Todd contributed to the reporting of this article.