In a presentation to the University Board of Regents on Thursday, Frederick Askari, chair of the Committee of the Economic Status of the Faculty and a clinical associate professor of internal medicine, said approximately 50 percent of the University’s faculty will be eligible for retirement by 2013.

Askari and his committee studied benefits and salaries of employees at the University’s Ann Arbor campus.

The survey reported that the University may face a challenge in recruitment and retention due to an increase in retirement of University employees.

Askari said the issue is a nationwide trend, which is a result of the baby boom generation approaching retirement years.

He added that increase in retirement may cause problems in maintaining faculty salary and benefits at their current level without an additional cost to the University.

“Salary and benefits need to keep pace with our peer institutions in order to be competitive in this arena,” Askari said.

The report stated that many faculty and retirees have realized a loss of net worth due to the downturn in the real estate market, while the faculty and retirees who live in Ann Arbor may have to pay higher property taxes because of the loss of $8 million in real estate taxes that Pfizer Inc. had paid before it sold its property on North Campus to the University. At the same time, many faculty members are coping with losses to their retirement accounts, Askari said.

Despite the economic challenges University employees face, Askari cited the Chronicle of Higher Education’s survey, which labeled the University as one of the “best places to work.”

Robert Kelch recognized for his successes as executive vice president for medical affairs

Robert Kelch, who will be stepping down as executive vice president for medical affairs in September, was honored at the University Board of Regents meeting Thursday.

At the meeting, Regent Andrew Richner (R–Grosse Pointe Park) presented Kelch with a resolution thanking him for his six years of service to the University.

“Under his leadership, the UMHS experienced unprecedented capital growth and expansion,” Richner said.

Richner said Kelch encouraged a work environment that led to “collaboration, teamwork and innovation.”

“These values — focusing on the outcomes that can be achieved through collective intelligence — now permeate every aspect of the health system, from patient care to research to the design of new buildings and serve as a lasting legacy of Dr. Kelch’s vision,” Richner said.

Kelch thanked the regents, executive officers and his wife of 46 years, Jeri, for her continuous support.

“If I have accomplished anything it’s because of Jeri,” he said.

Kelch received medical training at the University’s Medical School. He served as chair of the Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases and physician-in-chief of C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. In 1994 he left the University to work at the University of Iowa.

After serving in health leadership roles at the University of Iowa, Kelch returned to the University when President Mary Sue Coleman appointed him as EVPMA in 2003.

Kelch oversaw the completion of the Rachel UpJohn Building, the Biomedical Science Research Building and the Cardiovascular Center. During Kelch’s tenure, UMHS also purchased the former Pfizer property and began construction of the Kellogg Eye Center Expansion Project and the Children’s and Women’s Hospital.

Regents name Henry Russel lecturer and awardees

The University Board of Regents named two faculty researchers as this year’s Henry Russel Award winners at their monthly meeting Thursday.

The Russel Awards Faculty Advisory Committee selected Cindy Lustig, an assistant professor of psychology, and Patricia Wittkopp, an assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and assistant professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology, to receive the award.

The award, which was established in 1925, is given to junior faculty members for scholarly achievement. It is one of the highest honors given to junior faculty.

Richard Nisbett, the Theodore M. Newcomb distinguished professor of psychology, was named Henry Russel Lecturer for 2010. The Russel lecture will be held March 9, 2010.

Coleman said the University is pleased to acknowledge the accomplishments of the awardees through the Henry Russel awards and lectureship.

“This is a very wonderful honor to give to our senior faculty members, and professor Nisbett is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and he has really transformed the field of social psychology and is one of our most distinguished faculty members,” Coleman said.

Detroit native Henry Russel established the Russel Award and the Lectureship in 1925. Russel received three degrees from the University.

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