During its monthly meeting Thursday, the University’s Board of Regents approved Timothy Lynch as the next general counsel, effective on Jan. 7.

Though Lynch, the current deputy general counsel for litigation and enforcement at the U.S. Department of Energy, did not attend the meeting, he said in a phone interview after the meeting from his home in Washington, D.C. that he is excited for his new role.

“Michigan is one of the very best educational institutions in the world,” Lynch said. “There aren’t many Michigans out there at all. I don’t think there’s really a better place to go for someone who wants to do work for a $6-billion client that has such a strong public mission. Michigan itself is just a fantastic university and a great cultural place.”

Lynch said his background as a trial lawyer and litigator will play an important role in guiding the University’s legal matters.

“My vision is to make sure the general counsel’s office is providing the University with the kind of high-quality advice it needs to continue to thrive as one of the foremost educational institutions in the world,” Lynch said. “Issues that can come up in the higher education context often make their way to the Courts of Appeals and the Supreme Court.”

He noted his time as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and the University of Virginia will provide valuable experience in transitioning to the field of higher education.

“I’ve learned just as much from the student, if not more, than what I’ve taught them,” Lynch said. “My experience teaching is another reason that I’ve been drawn to higher education.”

Lynch added that he looks forward to raising his family in Ann Arbor. Early in his career, Lynch was a law clerk in Michigan for University alum Cornelia Kennedy, a U.S. Court of Appeals Judge, and he said he has been looking for way to come back.

“It wasn’t a hard choice at all,” he said. “It’s just a fantastic university, and I’m really thrilled to be a part of it.”

Regents hear Union renovation proposal

During the public comments session, LSA junior Louis Mirante asked the regents to consider a proposal to renovate the University’s unions and recreation centers.

Mirante — a member of Building a Better Michigan, an advisory group composed of students and administrators dedicated to promoting and researching campus improvements — said the regents’ opinions will play a critical role in guiding the group’s next steps.

The $60-million plan would consist of a 20-year, three-stage process that would be focused on upgrading recreational facilities and enhancing campus unions. During fall break, the group traveled to Ohio State University, Purdue University and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis to generate ideas for the plan based on the facilities of other campuses. The group has also worked with students on campus to gauge public interest through a series of polls and discussions.

Mirante said working collaboratively with University administrators will be a key part of bolstering the program moving forward.

“We’re really trying to be partners in this going forward,” Mirante said. “I think there is a large probability that this will eventually be successful. It needs to be successful, and I think the regents recognize that.”

Though Mirante is optimistic about the project, he acknowledged that it will likely be a long-term effort.

“I would not expect anything to happen immediately, as it shouldn’t, because this is a large commitment,” Mirante said.

Regents discuss growth of NCRC, approve $17.5-million renovation of NCRC

Nearly four years after the University first purchased the 2.2 million square-foot North Campus Research Center from Pfizer, the building now boasts a staff of 1,700, an uptick from the 1,423 employees in July.

To accommodate for the growing staff and influx of projects, the regents approved a $17.5-million renovation that will account for upgrades to approximately 68,000 square feet of the building. The area will be appropriated for use by the Medical School.

The overhaul comes on the heels of a $13.7-million renovation for a portion of the NCRC used for health services research, and the University has invested a total of $300 million in restoration of the facility, slated to be complete by 2015.

Professors honored by Coleman, vice president Churchill

In her opening remarks, Coleman honored University Math Prof. Stephen DeBacker for his recent recognition as Michigan’s Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation, an organization dedicated to educational efforts.

“He has been a driving force in the department in terms of advancing undergraduate education,” University Provost Phillip Hanlon said.

Hanlon is also a math department faculty member.

Sally Churchill, the University’s vice president and secretary, also asked meeting attendees to take a moment of remembrance for Christopher Peterson, a former University psychology professor who passed away last month at age 62.

“I’d like to send condolences to his family and all of his colleagues and students,” Churchill said.

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