Regents recognize faculty and approve continued sustainability initiative

President Mark Schlissel at the SACUA meeting on April 3, 2017.

President Mark Schlissel at the SACUA meeting on April 3, 2017. Buy this photo
Matt Vailliencourt/Daily

 

Thursday, May 18, 2017 - 11:12pm

Thursday’s meeting of the University Board of Regents saw several faculty appointments, including the vice provost of biosciences, and an extension of the Dow Sustainability Fund.

Central Student Government President Anusha Sarkar, an LSA senior, was also present at the meeting. She addressed the board, highlighting some of the 2017-2018 assembly’s goals for the year, which are also reflected in a memo submitted to the Regents.

The three primary topics she mentioned were the importance of student input in decision-making at the administrative level, the campus climate and student health and wellness. Sarkar added in the memo that the list is not comprehensive, as CSG also aims to “best represent the diversity of this student body’s perspectives and lived experiences.”

Sarkar, with CSG Vice President Nadine Jawad who is a Public Policy senior, hopes to continue emphasizing student voices.  

“As Nadine and I look to create our agenda for the duration of our term, prioritizing and valuing student input is of utmost importance,” she wrote. “Because students are uniquely critical stakeholders at U-M and embody the core of the university community, it is crucial that students’ input is consistently included and prioritized in University-wide decision-making through formal institutional mechanisms.”

With regard to campus climate, Jawad noted the complex political climate, as well as various events presenting bias throughout the year. She wrote members of the University community are in a position to “revitalize the inclusivity” on campus. In terms of health and wellness initiatives, Sarkar highlighted improved health insurance options at the University Health Service, support for mental health and an emphasis on “wellness.”

Recognition and appointments

Seven faculty members were recognized as Distinguished University Professors, including Gordon L. Amidon — a professor of pharmaceutical sciences, whose research has contributed to predicting drug absorption in humans — and Mark D. Hunter — a professor of ecology and environmental biology, whose research includes plant-animal interactions and biodiversity —  among others.

Such honors were established in 1947 to recognize senior faculty members; the recognition goes into effect September 1.

Additionally, the meeting appointed three notable University affiliates. Jonathan Massey was named dean of Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning — an appointment that will go into effect August 1.  

He will succeed Monica Ponce de Leon, who now serves as the dean of the Princeton University School of Architecture.

"Jonathan is a leader in thinking critically and creatively about the relationship between the built environment and political, social and economic change. His work connects the theories and practices of architecture, design and urban planning in imaginative yet practical ways," Courant said in a press release.

Roger D. Cone will become the first vice provost and director of the biosciences initiative; the appointment became effective Thursday. Currently the director of the University’s Life Sciences Institute, Cone will take the position as a second role.

University President Mark Schlissel discussed the importance of this advancement in biosciences-related work.

"Dr. Cone's appointment as our new vice provost and director of our biosciences initiative is the next step in our work to enhance U-M's standing as a powerhouse in the biosciences and a global leader in discovery and societal impact," Schlissel said in a press release. "I look forward to collaborating with him in this new role, along with faculty from across the breadth of our university, in this exciting area of discovery."

Cone will lead a team of researchers in the life sciences, while 30 faculty positions will be added in bioscience areas. Additionally, $150 million of funding will be devoted by Cone’s team to the field.

Preeti N. Malani, currently a professor of internal medicine, will becoming Chief Health Officer — an advisor to the president who addresses health and wellness on campus that operates through the Office of the President — beginning June 1. She will replace Robert Winfield — the University’s first chief health officer who passed away in October 2016.

Renovation

The Regents approved the establishment of a new football performance center in Glenn E. Schembechler Hall.

The 32,000-square-foot renovation, totaling approximately $14.8 million, will be funded by the Athletic Department resources and donors. The space will be used for training, recovery and nutrition facilities, as well as team meeting rooms, administrative space and support staff lockers.

Schembechler Hall is connected to the Bennie Oosterbaan Field House, for which $21 million in renovations were approved by the Regents in February. The project consists of a 32,000-square-foot performance center within Oosterbaan for use by the football program.

This project received pushback at the February Regent’s meeting from Business senior Nate Fisher, president of the men’s rugby team, who asked the Regents to delay the project — saying 31 club sports teams would be inhibited by the renovation.   

“The reduction of Oosterbaan translates to fewer hours of practice to refine skills, fewer scrimmages to prepare against opponents, fewer games and less time to become a team that is capable of upholding the prestige expected of students at the University,” he said.

The two projects together will provide a large performance center for the football program, according to the University Record, and allow the entire team to train at once.

Additionally, two notable renovations were approved in the realm of research. A design for the North Campus Research Complex was set. The $78.5 million project will alter 158,000 gross square feet of space for the Medical School’s web laboratory research growth and construct a 6,900-square-foot infill addition to improve connectivity between the buildings, among other things. The George Granger Brown Memorial Laboratories on North Campus will also undergo a $1.6 million renovation to better facilitate research in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

Dow Sustainability Fund

The Dow Sustainability Fellows Program — established in 2012 with help from the Dow Chemical Company to support graduate and postdoc students at the University who work to further interdisciplinary sustainability — will continue to operate through 2020, after receiving another donation from the Dow Company.

In a press release, Neil Hawkins — Corproate Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer at Dow — noted the importance of the program and its collaborative efforts.

"Dow is pleased to continue funding the Dow Sustainability Fellows Program,” Hawkins said. “There is no other university program like it. This novel program brings together unconventional collaborations—from social work and business to the sciences and arts—to address real-world sustainability challenges.”