University President Mary Sue Coleman delivered her annual update to the faculty’s top governing body yesterday, at the Senate Assembly’s monthly meeting in Palmer Commons.
Coleman touched on a wide range of issues, including the University’s announcement that it would purchase the former Pfizer Inc. complex on North Campus, its budget planning, and its recently completed fund development effort, The Michigan Difference Campaign.
Talking about the University’s budget, Coleman said everything is on schedule and should be ready to present to the University Board of Regents in June.
Coleman said the University is continuously working to improve, despite tough economic times.
“I’m not satisfied trying to just keep us where we are,” she said. “We have to come out of this recession stronger than we went in.”
Coleman indicated she is optimistic about how state funding and stimulus money will help the University next year.
“With everything else going on, what we do in terms of educating our students is absolutely critical,” she said. “We do believe the University of Michigan will be well-positioned.”
Although the University may receive additional money from the federal stimulus package, Coleman said the University would not use that money for recurring expenses.
“We will not pay ongoing expenses of the operating budget — that will have to be paid forever — with one-time money,” she said of the stimulus funds.
Coleman stressed how important faculty members were to the success of the Michigan Difference campaign. The campaign, which ended at the end of last year, set the record for the largest fundraising effort of any public university in the United States.
“As I review what’s happened in the campaign, I am always reminded of the participation of the faculty and how much of our faculty … made what I consider to be unbelievably generous donations to the University,” she said.
Coleman also discussed the University’s plans to purchase the Pfizer’s former Ann Arbor complex, saying the purchase will advance the University’s mission and will help stimulate the economy.
“(This will) permit the University to do things it couldn’t even have dreamed of,” she said. “(It will) change the shape of the University.”
University officials announced in December they would purchase the former Pfizer complex on North Campus. The University is currently in the due diligence process in considering exactly what to house in the facility. The closing on the Pfizer deal is also expected to be announced in June, barring any unanticipated complications.
Another new addition to the University that Coleman discussed is the recently formed film office. The new office will handle the influx of requests from film studios to film on campus, as a result of the state’s 40-percent tax incentive for the film industry.
Coleman specifically talked about the recent filming of Betty Anne Waters — starring Hilary Swank and Minnie Driver — that filmed on campus over spring break. The filming allowed hundreds of students to serve as extras and learn more about the film production process, she said.
On March 25, the University will launch a new website to highlight the University’s accomplishments and ongoing work, Coleman said.
“(It will be) a one-stop shop (with) easy to find information about events that are of interest … particularly to people involved in some of our funding,” she said.
— Shruti Gandhi contributed to this report.