The challenges of making the undergraduate experience at the University more than the usual routine of classrooms and libraries will fall to Lester Monts, who was appointed Wednesday as senior counselor to the interim president for the arts, diversity and undergraduate education.

“They”re the three areas of emphasis in the Bollinger administration which are not fully represented at the president”s table,” said B. Joseph White, who will become interim president when Lee Bollinger leaves the University at the end of the semester.

Monts, who will retain his position as senior vice provost for academic affairs when he assumes the new position Jan. 1, said most students show involvement and interest in the arts in their college applications, but these interests often fall by the wayside when students enter the University.

“I want to see undergraduates involved to the nth degree,” said Monts, who is also a professor in the School of Music. “We want to enhance the quality of the undergraduate experience here on the campus, and we can do that by taking a good look and providing a follow-up to the work of the President”s Commission on the Undergraduate Experience.”

“As I looked over things, it occurred to me we need closer counsel and advocacy and support for the arts and diversity and undergraduate education, and Lester just seemed to me a perfect candidate to do that,” White said.

The University has a reputation for challenging its students academically, but often does not do enough to tap their artistic talents and cultural backgrounds as well, Monts said.

The University and Ann Arbor have a rich cultural and artistic environment, Monts said. The problem is that not many students take advantage of University Musical Society-sponsored events or even know what the Life Sciences Orchestra is.

“We also want to make certain that our students have the best possible opportunity to participate and experience the arts and culture that come to our campus on an annual basis,” Monts said.

This will include collaborating with the different colleges and schools within the University as well as individual groups, such as the Arts at Michigan Program, he said.

As for diversity, Monts said the University needs to maintain its position at the forefront of the drive for diversity.

“We want to highlight and fold into the campus environment high level activities and events that inform us about the broad range of issues facing diversity in higher education,” he said. “I see myself as sort of a coordinator of these things.

Monts added that he would look to the University”s deans, students and colleagues in the provost”s office for ideas.

“What I”m hoping for is what I call “yes-able” propositions good ideas put forth as proposals to which we can say yes to,” White said.

Monts will take on the new position in addition to maintaining his current post.

“Lester Monts has a big leadership job currently,” White said.

“That work is going to continue. This role is one of working closely with me as president of the University to ensure that we maintain continuity and momentum in the areas of the arts, diversity and undergraduate education. I think that the Bollinger administration has done a very good job of launching important initiatives, of which these are three.”

While the position is not an executive office, Monts will make reports at the monthly University Board of Regents meeting.

White added the post is not permanent.

“I think that Lester and I had agreed that we would just take it a step at a time,” he said, adding that once a permanent president is found, Monts may advise that person on how the office functioned during the interim presidency and a final decision can be made from there.

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