FLINT, Mich. — Aside from athletics, the University’s Board of Regents discussed several other topics at its monthly meeting Thursday, including ongoing diversity efforts and the University’s annual investment report.

In his opening remarks, University President Mark Schlissel reviewed actions that have already been taken to increase diversity on campus.

“The University of Michigan could not achieve true excellence without leveraging the experiences and perspectives of the broadest possible diversity at all of our campuses,” he said. “This remains a top priority for me.”

Schlissel announced he has formed a leadership committee to consider the changes recommended by the provost’s faculty-led committee on diversity and inclusion. Earlier this month, the committee released a report detailing several potential changes, including the creation of a strategic plan for diversity.

“I look forward to being able to present new strategies to the regents and the entire Michigan community later this year,” he said.

He also said the University is continuing to meet with members of the University’s Black Student Union.

“These ongoing discussions are resulting in very productive consultations,” he said.

Discussions with the administration and members of the Black Student Union earlier in the year resulted in a renovation of the Trotter Multicultural Center while the administration continues to search for a new space for a new multicultural center.

Schlissel noted that two recent University appointees, Robert Sellers, the vice provost for equity, inclusion and academic affairs, and Kendra Ishop, associate vice president for enrollment management, have assumed their roles and started developing new approaches to address minority enrollment and campus climate.

He also cited the University’s Change It Up campaign, which helps students to develop the skills to intervene when they see or hear behavior that is harmful to the campus climate, and the Inclusive Language Campaign kicked off, which kicked off in September, as examples of new programs designed to address inclusion.

Regents approve three capital projects

The regents also approved three facilities-related projects, including the naming of the new Ross School Academic Building as Jeff T. Blau Hall. Blau, a Business alum, currently serves on the Ross School Advisory Board. In 2006, he made a $4 million dollar gift and this year he made an additional $5 million gift to the Business School.

The regents also approved renovations at the Institute of Continuing Legal Education. The 9,000 gross square feet first floor renovations will remodel existing offices, create a conference room and improve heating, ventilation and electrical improvements. The total cost of the project is $1.75 million.

Renovations to the Michigan Memorial Project Laboratory were also approved. The 2,700 gross-square-foot renovation plan will convert an office space into a state of the art laboratory for creating prototype batteries.

Regents receive annual investment report

Douglas Strong, the University’s interim executive vice president and chief executive officer, presented the regents with an annual report on the University’s investments.

The University’s endowment has grown to $9.7 billion in fiscal year 2014, up from $8.4 million in 2013, making it the eighth largest endowment fund among American universities.

According to the report, the University’s fiscal year 2014 investment return was 18.8 percent. That figure is up 10.7 percent from last year. Strong said the increase could be attributed, in part, to new donor gifts as part of the Victors for Michigan fundraising campaign, which was launched last year.

This report marks the fourth year of double-digit investment returns over the past five years.

“This is an indication that markets, in general, have fully recovered from the impact of the financial crisis and the economy is finally emerging from the subsequent Great Recession,” Erik Lundberg, the University’s chief investment officer, wrote in a release.

However, lower rates could be on the horizon.

“While strong investment returns are welcome, such positive performance appropriately needs to be tempered by the recognition that high current returns usually beget lower future returns as markets often get ahead of underlying fundamentals,” he wrote.

In fiscal year 2014, the University’s endowment funded $283 million in operating expenses, an increase of $7 million over last year. The University distributes 4.5 percent of its endowment value for operations.

In an endowment, the principal funds are typically left intact, but the organization often taps into investment proceeds for needs such as operating expenses. The report notes $2 billion is set aside for student scholarships, for example.

Daily News Editor Sam Gringlas contributed reporting.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.