Regents discuss construction plans on Ann Arbor campus

Friday, July 19, 2019 - 11:02am

The University of Michigan Board of Regents discuss campus construction at the Richard L. Postma Family Clubhouse Thursday.

The University of Michigan Board of Regents discuss campus construction at the Richard L. Postma Family Clubhouse Thursday. Buy this photo
Danyel Tharakan/Daily

The University of Michigan Board of Regents met at the Richard L. Postma Family Clubhouse Thursday afternoon for the fifth meeting of the calendar year. At the meeting, the board discussed Ann Arbor campus planning.

University President Mark Schlissel opened the meeting by thanking UM-Flint Chancellor Susan Borrego for her work at UM-Flint. Borrego, who has been chancellor since 2014, will finish her term at the end of July and be replaced by Debasish Dutta.

“Chancellor Borrego, as we bid you farewell, I want to thank you for your leadership and commitment to the University, the region and the people that your campus serves,” Schlissel said. 

Borrego thanked the board for their support of UM-Flint. She said UM-Flint has remarkable students, faculty and staff.

“I think the UM-Flint campus is a remarkable place to be, and it’s been an honor to be there,” Borrego said. “I look forward to what happens for it and with it in the future.”

Schlissel recognized six new distinguished professors. He then discussed the board’s efforts to examine the relations between the three University campuses, which he said the board promised to consider at last month’s meeting in which five speakers from One University spoke regarding the campaign’s goals.

“The board, the chancellors and I are always engaged in discussions about how to promote the longstanding excellence of each of our campuses and the success of our students,” Schlissel said. “Following the board’s guidance from when I was hired, we’ve worked to expand synergies and contribute to the unique missions and priorities of our three campuses.”


University planner Sue Gott gave a presentation on the ongoing and future renovation projects on the Ann Arbor campus. Gott said the goals of the project include enhancing campus life, emphasizing sustainability, honoring tradition and strengthening connectivity.

Gott focused her presentation on plans for North and Central Campuses. Currently, more than eight University buildings are under construction, including the historic Michigan Union and the LSA building. Gott said the University looks to expand development on North Campus.

“Our largest land area of our campuses is North Campus,” Gott said. “ … It is really, out of our five campuses, the place where we will want to continue directing growth and new development opportunities in our future.”

Future plans include moving the School of Dance and School of Information onto North Campus, rebuilding the Fleming Administration building and constructing a new School of Pharmacy.

Plans are also in place to construct a new residence hall on Central Campus to replace Mary Markley Residence Hall. Gott said the University plans to repurpose Mary Markley as an additional medical center.

“There may be real benefit for supporting our clinical mission by repurposing this site long-term for another patient care use,” Gott said.

Gott said property purchased on South Fifth Avenue would be a great location for a new residence hall. The location is slightly closer to the Diag than Markley.

An additional new residence hall on North Campus will also replace Northwood housing. When renovations are complete, Gott said approximately one third of students living on campus will reside on North Campus.

“As we continue to see us reach the end of the useful lives of our Northwoods facilities, we would like to develop that area more densely as we replace those units,” Gott said.

Gott also mentioned the addition of a more efficient and sustainable transportation system between North and Central Campuses. Gott said the University bus system took approximately 8 million annual trips this past year, and riding between the campuses can sometimes take up to 25 minutes.

Though possibilities are still in discussion, Gott said the University wants the new system to be more reliable, efficient and sustainable.

Following Gott’s report, Isabelle Blanchard, Central Student Government vice president, discussed CSG’s goals for the upcoming academic year. Blanchard said the new assembly will focus on campus sustainability, academic affordability and mental health resources on North Campus.

Blanchard said the assembly also looks to implement tutoring resources across campus that model the Science Learning Center’s tutoring program. This program holds larger study groups and tutoring for larger introductory science courses that emphasize collaboration and discussion.

“For many students, they are often overwhelmed by the rigor of academics at the University and may struggle to find friends to study with,” Blanchard said. “Having a resource to turn to could make their transition to college much easier.”

The board voted to approve the renaming of the Department of Communication Studies to the Department of Communication and Media, effective Sept. 1, 2019. A revision to the guidelines for receiving in-state tuition and the board’s 2021 meeting schedule were also approved.

Read here for an article on public comments during the July 18 Board of Regents meeting.