At Thursday’s meeting of the Board of Regents, the University’s top governing body approved a number of renovation and construction projects anda number of honorary degrees to be granted during May’s commencement ceremonies and heard from University President Mary Sue Coleman about the selection of Dick Costolo, CEO of Twitter, as the speaker for the event.

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Click here to see the plans for the Taubman Health Sciences Library.

Coleman began her remarks by recognizing last month’s $50-million donation to LSA. The donation, made by University alum Helen Zell, the wife of real estate mogul Samuel Zell, was used to establish 22 permanent scholarships for a master’s program in creative writing. The contribution marks the biggest donation in the college’s history and the third largest to the University.

“Just as Helen Zell is a thoughtful and engaged graduate of the University, so, too, is Dick Costolo, the CEO of Twitter — the speaker at this year’s commencement program,” Coleman said. “This is a powerful group of individuals that are leaders in business, arts and humanities and philanthropy.”

The big-ticket item on the regents’ agenda was the approval of architectural designs for a renovation to the Taubman Health Sciences Library. The Taubman Health Sciences Library is one of the largest medical libraries in the United States and also holds some of the oldest medical records in the world — some dating as far back as 1470. The $55-million project was originally approved at the April 2012 meeting.

During the renovation, the library will transfer parts of its collection to an offsite location to open up floor space for academic use. The 137,000 square-foot renovation budgets a smaller area for the actual library collection and more space for instructional needs. New additions will include a clinical skills and simulation suite, more computing and study areas, and space designated for faculty and student service.

The Medical School will bear the cost of the project, scheduled to be completed in fall 2015. There will be 72 on-site workers employed during the renovation process.

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo and six others granted honorary degrees

The regents approved six honorary degree recipients in addition to this year’s spring commencement speaker, Twitter CEO and 1985 alum Dick Costolo.

In an interview with the Daily on Sunday, Costolo said he was surprised by the University’s choice of speaker.

“It’s really the single greatest honor I could ever imagine receiving,” Costolo said. “When I grew up as a kid outside of Detroit in Troy, I always wanted to go to Michigan. It was the only university I applied to, and I always knew I wanted to go there.”

The regents also approved six other honorary degree recipients, which will be presented in April.

University alum and philanthropist William Brehm will receive a Doctor of Laws. The co-founder and chair of SRA International, a consulting firm focused on national security, Brehm previously worked at the Department of Defense during the 1960s and 1970s. He has made significant donations to the University, notably an $8-million contribution to renovate the Earl V. Moore building at the School of Music, Theatre & Dance.

The University will honor ballerina and educator Suzanne Farrell this spring with a Doctor of Fine Arts. Farrell currently produces the dance company she founded that’s produced at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

Recipient Rosabeth Kanter, former editor of the Harvard Business Review and a business professor at Harvard Business School, has published multiple books on business leadership and sustainability. She will receive a Doctor of Letters.

From University of Michigan-Flint, former Democratic Congressman Dale Kildee (D) will receive a Doctor of Laws. Kildee served in office for 36 years before his retirement last year.

David McCullough, Pulitzer Prize and Presidential Medal of Freedom honoree, will receive a Doctor of Humane Letters. He is a historian and the author of several bestselling biographies on U.S. presidents and other historical topics.

Jeffrey Sachs, economist and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, will receive a Doctor of Science at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. As a special adviser to the United Nations Secretary General, his work has focused on international development and poverty eradication.

Coleman lauded this year’s honorees for contributions that align with future aspirations of this year’s graduates.

“Their accomplishments speak well to the potential and promise of our graduating class,” Coleman said.

Regents approve South Quad Residence Hall renovation bids and Earl V. Moore Building roof replacement

While South Quad schematic renovation designs were approved last month, the regents approved construction bids and contracts for the project.

With a price tag of $60 million, the project calls for renovation of South Quad’s ground and first floors as well as bathrooms throughout the building, encompassing nearly 106,700 square feet. The design calls for an updated and enlarged dining facility akin to the Hill Dining Center, which serves as a dining hub for the Hill neighborhood.

Additionally, reconfigured study spaces, music practice rooms, and study lounges will foster new spaces for student interaction.

Along with prominent changes to the space, infrastructure improvements will include new plumbing, fire detection and suppression systems, wireless Internet and accessibility improvements. Generating 131 on-site construction jobs, the project is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2014.

Regents also authorized reconstruction of the Earl V. Moore Building roof for an estimated cost of $1.8 million funded by investment proceeds.

The current roof has exceeded its projected life span and is now showing signs of wear, Slottow said in a communication to the regents. The project, which includes improvements to roof walkway surfaces and roofing systems, will be completed by the fall of 2013.

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