Regents approve health system project, financial report

Thursday, November 19, 2015 - 9:01pm

LSA junior Valeriya Epshteyn argues for fossil fuel divestment at the regents meeting in the Michigan Union on Thursday.

LSA junior Valeriya Epshteyn argues for fossil fuel divestment at the regents meeting in the Michigan Union on Thursday. Buy this photo
Delaney Ryan/Daily


There weren’t any surprises at Thursday’s monthly meeting of the University Board of Regents with the approval of several dozen agenda items, including an expansion to the University of Michigan Health System and the University’s annual consolidated financial report. During Thursday’s session, Schlissel spent time reflecting on the University’s recent campus-wide diversity assembly and heard updates from Central Student Government regarding course evaluations and mental health services.

Schlissel reflects on diversity summit

In his opening remarks to the regents, Schlissel spoke about the University’s week-long Diversity Summit, which was designed to involve faculty, students and community members in substantive dialogue about equity and inclusion on campus.

One takeaway, he said, was that though some comments suggested the University is taking steps in the right direction to make its campus more inclusive, many others suggested that minority students feel discriminated against as a result of their identities.

“We cannot reach our full potential in our University when there are so many among us who are experiencing the University of Michigan community this negatively,” Schlissel said. “We must do better, and we will.”

Schlissel said the University has already begun small efforts to improve the climate with regard to campus diversity — in part by completing renovations to the Trotter Multicultural Center, requiring all students living in residence halls to take the Change it Up! bystander intervention program and piloting an LSA-focused faculty development program for teaching effectively in multicultural classrooms.

Schlissel also said he and E. Royster Harper, vice president for student life, recently had a meeting with members of the Black Student Union to field their ideas for making the campus more inclusive.

“As I said during the community assembly, a plan that is created in the vacuum from the president’s office will not serve to rally the community around a set of shared values and goals and cannot succeed,” Schlissel said.

Regents approve expansion of health services

The University approved the construction of two new facilities to expand health services within the state of Michigan.

The first is a $175 million project to build a new 320,000-square-foot health center in Brighton. The facility is set to include multiple exam and operating rooms, pharmacy and special services to pediatric and adult patients, as well as radiology and diagnostic imaging and comprehensive cancer services, including radiation and oncology.

The University currently operates three existing health centers in the Brighton area — the Brighton Health Center, the Kellogg Eye Center and the Howell Pediatric and Teen Clinic.

Marschall Runge, executive vice president for medical affairs and CEO of UMHS, and Kevin Hegarty, the University’s chief financial officer, submitted the action request for the construction project, in part to expand UMHS ambulatory care. Ambulatory surgical centers performed about 65 percent of surgeries in the United States in 2012, a jump of 54 percent since 1992.

“In order to improve patient access to ambulatory care services, UMHS is both actively improving throughput within existing facilities and seeking to expand its capacity,” Runge and Hegarty wrote in the action request.

The University also approved the construction of a 75,000-square-foot building that will house primary and specialty care, infusion, clinical pathology and radiology services. The $46 million facility is set to open in 2017.

CSG talks course evaluations, mental health summit

CSG President Cooper Charlton, an LSA senior, voiced disappointment with members of the Faculty Senate for voting last month to delay the release of course evaluation data to students.

“The decision made by the Faculty Senate to halt the release of course evaluations to students is not only disappointing but deeply, deeply upsetting,” he said.

Charlton said course evaluations were originally developed by students, for students so they could have accurate information about professors and their classes before selecting courses for a given semester.

Though CSG has met with the Senate Assembly Committee for University Affairs to discuss the eventual release of course evaluation data, Charlton said he was “deeply concerned” with the suggested timeline of the release. SACUA has said a committee to determine protocols for the release of course evaluation data should wrap up by April 2016.

Charlton also lauded the mental health summit hosted by CSG and the Counseling and Psychological Services last week. During the summit, student leaders of groups dedicated to aiding those with mental health problems and disabilities spoke about ways to improve student mental health resources.

“We aim to have a united voice in the fight to destigmatize mental health and look forward to setting in motion an annual event, marking November 15, 2015, as the genesis of a new annual tradition,” Charlton said.

University totals $13.3 billion net worth in 2015

The University increased its net gains by $238 million to $13.3 billion for the 2015 fiscal year. The gifts for the University’s endowment and capital construction contributed $142 million and returns from investments added $35 million.

“These audits were reviewed with the finance, audit and investment committee last month, and today I recommend the University of Michigan fiscal year 2015 consolidated financial statement be adopted by the Board as submitted,” Hegarty said.

Other factors that led to the increase in funds included donations totalling more than $400 million, an increase in returns for the endowment and increases to research awards, according to a press release.

Divest campaign

Student organization Divest and Invest also made a strong appearance during the public comments section of the meeting, touting its recent support from the Senate Assembly as a sign that both students and faculty on campus are in consensus as far as supporting divestment from fossil fuels.

Speakers noted that Stanford has divested from coal, and the University of California school system recently divested from fossil fuels. LSA senior Valeriya Epshteyn made reference to the Nov. 2 talk delivered by social activist Naomi Klein, noting that “the short-term utility” of investing in fossil fuels “is totally negated by the catastrophic global climate change.”