At Thursday’s meeting of the University’s Board of Regents, Regent Shauna Ryder Diggs (D) announced that the board will participate in a private session in January in lieu of its regular monthly meeting.

The regents have held private, strategic planning sessions in January for the past three years. A private session was held in California in 2013, New York in 2014 and Ann Arbor in 2015. This year’s session is slated to be held in Detroit.

Before 2013, a regular meeting open to the public was usually held in January.

“Holding an annual strategic planning session has proven very useful to the regents and to the University,” Ryder Diggs, who chairs the board, said at Thursday’s meeting.

University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said the board had the opportunity to interact with other leaders in higher education from different parts of the country during previous strategic sessions.

“This is really an opportunity for the board to do some strategic thinking in a less formal atmosphere where there’s no decisions being made,” he said. “It’s just sort of a blue sky kind of session.”

During their 2014 trip to New York, the board met with leaders from several colleges on the East Coast, including William Bowen, Princeton University professor emeritus, Yale University President Peter Salovey, Michael Johns, retired executive vice president for health affairs at Emory University and Edward Miller, retired executive vice president for health affairs at Johns Hopkins University.

Johns was chosen last year to serve as interim chief executive officer of University of Michigan Health System through March.

The board’s trip to Los Angeles in 2013 involved meeting with Robert Birgeneau, former chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley, Stanford University President John Hennessy, Robert Berdahl, former president of the Association of American Universities and Dan Russell, a top Google research scientist.

Fitzgerald also said the strategic planning sessions serve as opportunities for the board to interact with University alumni. The board’s meeting in New York was accompanied by a fundraising dinner at Lincoln Center. At this year’s strategic planning meeting, the regents will interact with alumni in Detroit, an area heavily populated with University alumni.

There are almost 60,000 alumni in the greater Detroit area, one of the highest concentrations nationwide.

As he enters his second year, University President Mark Schlissel has also focused on strengthening the University’s connection to the city of Detroit. At an Amazon press conference in the city this past September, he emphasized the University’s annual student-led Detroit Partnership Day, in which 1,500 students participate in projects across the city. In August, he hosted an event commending the work of students and interns in the city.

The next regular regents meeting will take place Dec 17. 

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