University President Mary Sue Coleman unveiled several
initiatives for the future of the University yesterday, ideas she
referred to as the “Michigan
Difference.”

“We will focus on the difference our University will make in the
future as it has made for almost two centuries, both on the lives
of our students and in the world beyond our campuses,” she said,
addressing an unusually large crowd of about 150 people at
yesterday’s Regents’ meeting.

Coleman emphasized building a more integrated academic community
where students and faculty are intricately connected to each other
and to the outside world. Throughout her speech she consistently
referred to the importance of developing relationships with
businesses and other private institutions, especially in the face
of a state budget crisis.

“Budgetary constraints do not call for timid measures,” Coleman
said.

She added that her initiatives are not definite plans, but
guides for the administration, faculty and students in their
endeavors.

Specifically, Coleman said she will pursue the creation of a
center for the study of ethical issues in the public domain. With
increasing reports of misconduct in the corporate world, college
sports and the media, the University should focus its efforts on
studying the ethical problems of our world, she said.

The University will seek to increase “team-teaching” efforts and
multi-disciplinary paired courses for which the Office of the
Provost will supply funds.

As the nation’s healthcare system becomes increasingly more
complex and unsustainable, Coleman suggested the University create
a “prototype for new approaches to rational and affordable
healthcare.”

With a high-ranking hospital, doctors, a health insurance
company and health policy experts, the University is in a unique
place to be a leader in healthcare policy, she added.

“We ought to be modeling for the rest of the country because we
have it all here. We have all the pieces,” she said.

In the coming years, changes may be made to residence hall life.
After an extensive nationwide search, Carole Henry was chosen as
the new director for University Housing.

“It’s a great time for me to be joining the University,” she
said.

Over the next few years, the University may open new residence
halls focusing on apartment-style housing and renovate existing
halls. Students and administrators said they are excited about
possible changes to the University’s dining services and the
learning communities for residence halls.

In the future, Henry said she will consider creating a
marketplace dining experience where students can see food prepared
in front of them.

“It’s exciting to see what she’ll come up with,” said Amy
Keller, Residence Hall Association President.

Keller, an LSA junior, also mentioned efforts to bring tutors
into the residence halls and allow for more group study. The
University may consider opening 24-hour community learning
centers.

The University also started a new learning community this year
called the Adelia Cheever program “to prepare women for leadership
in a global society,” according to the University Housing website.
The program is housed in the Helen Newberry Residence Hall and
includes recommended coursework and in-hall workshops.

Coleman said in the future the University will evaluate its
financial aid programs to reveal any financial barriers to student
enrollment.

About half of students at the University have parents who make
more than $100,000 a year, according to a report published
yesterday in the New York Times. Nationally, the number of students
coming from families with incomes in the top quarter rose 9 percent
in 15 years. In 2000, 55 percent of students came from this income
bracket.

As part of the new undergraduate application, the University
will allow applicants to report their parents’ income, an attempt
to include socioeconomic status into the admissions process.

Coleman affirmed her commitment to the life sciences and to the
newly-created

Life Sciences Institute. In the future, she said she hopes to
integrate the life sciences “more seamlessly” into the other
natural sciences, humanities and the arts. The University may also
add neuroscience as a “new pillar” of the life sciences, she
added.

Before attending the meeting yesterday, University Regents
toured the Frieze Building to view its physical condition. Many
administrators and students have been concerned about the state of
the building, some parts of which are more than 50 years old.

Regent Andrea Newman (R – Ann Arbor) decried the condition of
the building and said there is serious thought of either renovating
the building or razing it and building a new one.

“Something needs to be done if we can do it,” Newman said.
“There’s obviously a cost factor. But you have a lot of space
there, and you could utilize the space much better.”

She added that the building in its current condition could hurt
the University in recruiting students and faculty.

The Regents also approved design plans for the new Depression
Center. Coleman mentioned the center in her vision speech as an
example of a contribution the University could make to society.

The administration approved increases in housing rates for the
2004-2005 academic year. Students living in residence halls and
Family Housing apartments will pay an average of 4.9 percent more
for room and board. Part of this increase will cover new fire alarm
systems to be installed in Fletcher, Mary Markley, and Vera Baits I
and II residence halls.

The meeting took place in the Pendleton room of the Michigan
Union instead of its usual location in the Fleming Administration
Building to accommodate the size of the crowd.

Coleman said she hopes her initiatives will guide the University
despite a 30-year national trend of declining support to
state-funded universities.

“You need to have vision,” Coleman said. “It’s going to help us
in making priorities and in deciding what we’re going to cut and
what we’re not going to cut.”

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