At its meeting yesterday, the University’s Board of Regents approved proposals to continue renovations of Crisler Arena and to install high-definition scoreboards at Michigan Stadium, Crisler Arena and Yost Ice Arena.

As outlined in the proposals, the approved $52 million expansion to Crisler Arena will add an estimated 63,000 square feet, including new public entrances, club spaces, ticketing areas and additional retail facilities. The expansion will also improve disability seating and increase fan amenities.

These additions will mark the second phase of the Crisler Arena renovation project. The first phase of the project — approved by the Board of Regents in October 2010 — addressed high-priority issues like electrical wiring and plumbing.

University Athletic Director Dave Brandon wrote in a press release issued yesterday that the second phase of renovations will modernize the arena.

“Our goal is to create a home court advantage for our teams while making the fan experience memorable from the moment they walk into the arena,” Brandon wrote in the release.

He also said that he is very excited about the LED video scoreboard installations, which will cost an estimated $20 million.

“These new boards will provide our fans with the opportunity for enhanced and crystal clear viewing of not only the event but of replays, announcements, and other fun ways to create game day excitement,” Brandon wrote.

‘U’ to continue strong focus on research this year

In a presentation earlier in the meeting, Stephen Forrest, the University’s vice president for research, summarized the state of research at the University. He emphasized the need for the University to remain devoted to innovation in order to support the state and national economies.

Forrest said the University is ranked in the top tier of research institutions in the nation, placing eighth in the country between 2007 and 2009 for research agreements and business start-ups, and ninth for revenue generated.

The University’s research spending exceeded $1 billion this year for the second year in a row, according to the University’s Annual Report on Research and Scholarship.

University researchers have received about $300 million in federal stimulus funding through more than 500 stimulus research grants from when the funds were made available in 2009 through Nov. 30, 2010, according to a University press release issued yesterday.

Though Forrest praised the University’s high caliber research, he also said there is still room for improvement.

An important part of maintaining a successful research institution, Forrest said, is remaining engaged in the community and forming partnerships with outside groups.

“Universities … have hard walls and hard boundaries to the outside world,” Forrest said. “But (the University) bleeds right out onto State Street.”

During his presentation, Forrest also said the University’s new North Campus Research Complex and the founding of the business center Venture Accelerator and Tech Transfer, are significant developments that help bring research and ideas into the marketplace.

After the meeting, University Regent Andrea Newman (R–Ann Arbor) also said she appreciates the emergence of Tech Transfer — a group that looks for ways to apply University technology to the marketplace — among other University projects.

“It was nice to see the focus on Tech Transfer because that’s so important,” Newman said. “It creates jobs, it helps the reputation of the University and it encourages people to come here.”

In an interview after his presentation, Forrest said that in addition to developing Venture Accelerator, he has assembled a group of entrepreneurial faculty members to further research at the University. He added that though the University conducts prominent research, it isn’t the “top” institution.

“We’re in the middle of getting (Venture Accelerator) settled and it’s a good time to take a breath and look for the next step,” he said. “We understand that we have to move on from here, that this isn’t the end.”

Forrest also said that he feels University students should be involved in research on campus because they support the overall research atmosphere.

“I think students should always be looking for research experiences while they’re here,” he said. “By research, I’m talking about anything, whether it’s social sciences, arts, engineering, you name it. Get involved.”

$1.5 million upgrade to ISR Building and $2.55 million tunnel renovation approved

The regents approved a $1.5 million improvement to the fire suppression system in the University’s Institute for Social Research Building at the meeting.

The installation is expected to be completed in the spring of 2012 and will be funded by the ISR and the Office of the Provost.

The board also approved a $2.55 million budget to renovate utility tunnels underneath Central Campus and Huron Street. The new project is funded by University Utilities and will distribute power to campus from the University’s Central Power Plant.

The construction on the 500 feet of tunnels as well as the replacement of 120 feet of the tunnels is expected to be completed in winter 2012.

Conduct of DPS Police Chief Ken Magee questioned during public comments

During the public comments section following yesterday’s regents meeting, Douglas Smith, a former University professor, submitted a request to be granted access to records involving Kenneth Magee, the executive director of the University’s Department of Public Safety.

Magee is reported to be on a medical leave of absence, but Smith said he believes Magee is on leave because of sexual misconduct allegations.

After the meeting, University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said Magee is presently on medical leave and that there is no investigation into the matter. Fitzgerald declined to comment further on the allegations Smith spoke of, reiterating that there is not an investigation going on.

Smith said he previously submitted a request for records regarding possible allegations or suspicions of Magee, but that the University administration refused to comply on the grounds of attorney-client privilege. At yesterday’s meeting, Smith appealed to the Board of Regents to overturn the denial of his request.

In an interview following yesterday’s meeting, University President Mary Sue Coleman declined to comment on the proposed allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct by Magee.

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