Regents Notebook: Berenson renaming, endowment increase & C.C. Little
University of Michigan hockey players will suit up Friday evening for the first time on the newly coined Red Berenson Ice Rink. The University’s Board of Regents voted unanimously Thursday to name the rink at Yost Ice Arena after Berenson, who served as the team’s coach for 33 seasons and retired this summer.
The rink will feature his signature through the end of the calendar year, while center ice will change to display Berenson’s name next year. The Board and other executive officers gave Berenson a standing ovation at the meeting.
“Going to Michigan was the best four years of my life,” he said. “I have spent the past 33 years trying to help others achieve their dreams.”
The Board met at the University of Michigan at Flint, and executive officers spent the day in briefings on the state of the campus. Aside from brief comments by U-M Flint Chancellor Susan Borrego at the beginning of the meeting, the lingering water crisis did not figure heavily into the agenda. Robert Barnett, dean of the U-M Flint School of Education, presented a program to launch soon that will train Flint high schoolers to be certified early childhood educators by their high school graduation.
Endowment rises by 13.8 percent
The University’s long-term investment profile grew by 13.8 percent in the 2017 fiscal year to total $10.9 billion, up from $9.7 billion last year. After a dip last year Vice President of Development Jerry May said positive returns on investments and the Victors for Michigan Campaign contributed to the push.
The fund’s performance this year places the University ninth among all universities and colleges in the country, and the third highest public school system — after those of California and Virginia, as confirmed in a press release.
University Spokesman Rick Fitzgerald noted, however, the endowment lags behind private institutions on a per-student basis, ranking 86th in the nation.
“(The University’s endowment is) much smaller than many private school peers, while supporting a much larger number of students,” he wrote in an email.
Distributions to the general fund grew by $21 million to $325 million in the fiscal year. May pointed to Victors for Michigan — which achieved a record high $476 million in contributions this year — as a major source of funding.
Sarkar delivers official statement on renaming of C.C. Little building
Central Student Government President Anushka Sarkar, an LSA senior, used her time before the Board to lobby for efforts to rename the C.C. Little building. The building is named for former University President Clarence Cook Little, also an avowed eugenicist, and has been a site of controversy and protests this semester.
CSG, LSA Student Government and Rackham Student Government have all expressed support for the renaming.
“(Renaming is) a relatively simple way to demonstrate to the campus community that the University of Michigan does not glorify the leaders of our past that would test a good portion of our faculty, staff, and student body,” Sarkar said.
A formal request for the renaming, authored by four University faculty members and one student, is currently before the President’s Advisory Committee on University History. According to a new renaming policy released in January, the advisory board reviews the request and makes an initial decision, passing the proposal to the Board for a final vote. Sarkar implored the Board to consider the petition.
“Proponents of the name often cite the need to preserve our collective history … I recognize this as valid,” she said. “It’s more important to consider the ways in which we engage with our darker historical moments. There is a critical difference between understanding our history and glorifying our worst moments.”
Public comments Thursday all focused on upcoming bargaining between the University and the Lecturers’ Employee Union. The union’s platform requests higher minimum salaries on all three campuses, a dedicated fund for lecturers advancing values of diversity, equity and inclusion and an extension of health care benefits. Lecturers who spoke before the Board on Thursday complained their University salaries were not competitive with positions at local high schools and community colleges.
The largest project the Board approved Thursday was a schematic design for $120 million renovations to the Edward Krause building on North University Avenue. The building, which is adjacent to the Chemistry building currently houses the LSA Departments of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, but the School of Kinesiology will also relocate to Krause following the architectural and mechanical renovations.
The project will be completed in the fall of 2020.