Regents to review plans to move forward with athletic facility construction

Monday, December 14, 2015 - 3:47pm

During their monthly meeting Thursday, the University’s Board of Regents will review an action request to move forward with the bidding and construction for new athletic facilities and hear a report on divestment from fossil fuels.

Construction on campus:

Interim Athletic Director Jim Hackett and Kevin Hegarty, executive vice president and chief financial officer, have submitted a request to continue the bidding process for construction contracts on The Stephen M. Ross Athletic Campus Athletics South Competition and Performance Project. The design for the project, an approximately 280,000 square foot building which will house men’s and women’s track and field, cross country, lacrosse and women’s rowing, was approved by the regents in May.

It is slated to include an indoor track for 2,000 spectators and an outdoor track for 500 spectators, in addition to a lacrosse stadium.

Funding for the $168 million project will come from Athletic Department resources and gifts, and construction is scheduled for completion by winter 2018.

The regents will also vote on two more construction projects during their meeting Thursday. The first involves a request to the state of Michigan for major renovations to the School of Dentistry. The project is estimated to cost $122 million and includes a 31,000-square-foot addition to provide for additional contemporary research and spaces for patient care. The request is an update to a five-year capital outlay plan submitted to the regents in October.

The second vote will be on creating better reinforcement for the transportation of emergency vehicles in the network of tunnels between University buildings. The project would include the reinforcement of 600 feet of tunnel located near the Dental Building to allow for firetruck access, tunnel waterproofing, the addition of a ventilation system and restoration of paving and landscaping. The project is set to cost $2.4 million dollars with a completion date scheduled for fall 2017.

Fossil fuel divestment:

Additionally, the regents will recieve a report from the Senate Assembly, the faculty governance body, on their support for student-authored resolution asking the Board to appoint an ad-hoc committee to “determine the propriety of the University’s investments in oil and coal.” The report clarifies that this vote does not signify an endorsement but rather support for “open inquiry” into the issue.

The report follows continued hesitation from University President Mark Schlissel toward divestment from fossil fuels. In a recent meeting with the Daily, Schlissel said he would maintain University investment in the fossil fuel industry because he is not convinced altering the University’s investment portfolio would diminish the release of greenhouse gases or promote energy sustainability. Schlissel also voiced his disapproval for divestment in general, saying it was usually merely symbolic in nature.

“The endowment isn’t a vehicle for playing out political arguments,” he said. “It’s there to support the mission of the University, and it’s taken in trust from donors.”