DETROIT — Collaborations between the University and the Motor City was the main topic of discussion at the University’s Board of Regents meeting here yesterday.
Three University-affiliated groups made presentations to the Board regarding the importance of the University’s partnerships with Detroit organizations.
The presentations — made by Semester in Detroit participants, researchers working on the Healthy Environments Partnership and graduate students involved in Revitalization and Business: Focus Detroit — all stressed the University’s integral role in improving the city.
In her opening remarks, University President Mary Sue Coleman said it was important to meet in Detroit because many of the city’s leaders are University alumni.
“We are pleased to have so many engaged partners in metropolitan Detroit,” Coleman said. “Together we are all committed to a strong future for our state.”
Student participants of Semester in Detroit, a University program in which students live, take classes and intern in the city for a term, talked about their experiences to the regents. The students explained how their time in Detroit enriched their lives and strengthened their commitment to Michigan.
Charles Bright, faculty co-director of Semester in Detroit, said the program is operating on limited resources. He advised the regents to take a more active role in the program to ensure its sustainability over time.
Later in the meeting, Amy Schulz, an associate professor in the University’s School of Public Health, and Angela Reyes, executive director of the Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation, discussed the Healthy Environments Partnership’s work promoting cardiovascular health in Detroit. The partnership is a collaboration between a number of Detroit groups, the University’s School of Public Health, the Detroit Department of Health and Wellness Promotion and the Henry Ford Health System.
Schulz said the group chose the topic of cardiovascular disease because it is more prevalent in Detroit than in the rest of the country. She explained that the disease’s high diagnosis rate can be attributed to factors that contribute to high blood pressure, such as air pollution, lack of exercise and food and environment stressors, which many Detroit residents face. For example, many people living in Detroit have difficulty finding places to exercise, she said.
“They need not only to do (exercise),” Schulz said, “but places where they can do it and do it safely.”
Schulz and Reyes have worked with community organizations to create walking groups and promote physical activity, Schulz said, the results have been encouraging.
“Based on the preliminary data, people have increased their number of steps,” she said. “And both their systolic and diastolic blood pressure is coming down significantly.”
The presentation by Schulz and Reyes was followed by Ross School of Business graduate students who discussed their involvement in the Revitalization and Business: Focus Detroit — an organization with the primary goal of helping to rejuvenate the city’s business market.
Last year, in an effort to launch the program and generate interest about working in Detroit, the organization hosted a two-day conference in Ann Arbor and Detroit, which hundreds of students attended.
Business School graduate student David McCarty said at the regents meeting that the response to last year’s conference was encouraging.
“I heard my classmates say things like … ‘Wouldn’t it be really great to start a business in Detroit instead of working for an investment bank?’” McCarty said.
The focus of the conference last year motivated people to think about Detroit and its possibilities.
“Everyone knows what the conversation has been about Detroit historically,” he said. “We didn’t want to rehash that. We wanted to focus on the opportunities.”
The group also sponsored a program called Detroit Impact, which paired students with consulting firms in Detroit. Students were asked to explore real obstacles Detroit companies face by working closely with the businesses.
McCarty said that in the future, the group would like to increase student and faculty engagement in the Revitalization and Business Conference and establish programming year round.
After the meeting, University Regent Andrea Fischer Newman (R–Ann Arbor) said she thought the regents meeting in Detroit was a success.
“I think it was really good to have the meeting in Detroit,” Newman said. “A lot of people were excited to be invited to come and be a part of it.”
Regents approve naming of Lawyers Club residences in honor of Charles T. Munger
Members of the Board of Regents unanimously voted to name the north Lawyers Club residences in honor of Charles T. Munger, who recently donated $20 million for the dormitory’s renovation.
The donation will fund updates to the interior of the residences, which will include new heating, plumbing, Internet access, and handicap accessibility.
Timothy Slottow, the University’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, said the donation will significantly improve Law school students’ experiences.
“This gift is transformational,” Slottow said. “The Law School is doing so well thanks to people like Mr. Munger.”
Law School Dean Evan Caminker said he is excited about the renovations because little attention has been paid to other areas of the quadrangle, though time, energy, and resources have been spent on revitalizing academic spaces at the school.
“Mr. Munger recognizes education is a holistic experience,” he said. “This fantastic gift and the project that comes along with us will allow us to completely revitalize the Lawyer’s Club.”
Caminker also said the renovations will allow the Lawyer’s Club to meet the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act and modern building code.
At their meeting, the regents also approved $6 million worth of renovations to the University Hospital. The project will include new recovery and preparatory bays in the Medical Procedure Unit.
Ora Pescovitz, the University’s executive vice president for medical affairs, said the renovations are necessary to update important facilities at the hospital.
“Simply, this will bring us up to standards in the industry,” Pescovitz said.
Announcement of dismissal of lawsuit against the Michigan University, Daily
At yesterday’s meeting, the regents received a litigation report compiled by Suellyn Scarnecchia, the University’s vice president and general counsel, detailing the dismissal of a lawsuit filed against the University and The Michigan Daily by LSA senior Julie Rowe, a former news editor for the Daily.
Rowe, who claims she was falsely accused of plagiarism, filed the lawsuit against the University and the Daily in February 2010. She also filed a separate lawsuit against three now former Daily editors that same month.
The lawsuit against the University and the Daily was granted the summary disposition on Feb. 9, 2011, according to Scarnecchia’s litigation report. The case brought against the three former editors is pending in the Washtenaw County Circuit Court, the report states.
— The reporter and editors who worked on this story are not involved in the lawsuit brought against The Michigan Daily.