At its monthly meeting yesterday, the University Board of Regents approved four construction projects that will together cost approximately $13 million.

The regents approved renovations to the Residential College’s auditorium in East Quadrangle Residence Hall. The renovation will update lighting, stage and seating areas, and is expected to cost approximately $2.1 million.

An additional $1.2 million was given to update research labs in the Environmental and Water Resources Building. The College of Engineering will fund the 8,300-square-foot renovation.

The Regents also authorized a $6.6 million plan to replace 600 feet of utility tunnels in the northwest section of the Diag and 125 feet of tunnels near Lorch Hall.

The Regents also approved the University of Michigan Health System’s plan to add a new cooling tower and new piping and controls for its chilled water expansion system. The $3.25 million project will help meet increased demand during the summer months.

Hospital CEO estimates UMHS’s spent over $320 million on community benefits

Douglas Strong, director and CEO of University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers, updated the regents on UMHS’s community involvement.

Strong said he estimates that UMHS’s spent more than $320 million in 2008 to benefit the community. Of the estimated $323 million, $170 million is credited for uncompensated direct patient care, $11 million for community health programs and $142 million for research.

Strong said UMHS was voted the best large hospital overall in Michigan by patients. The hospital sees approximately 300,000 different patients each year and received about $340 million in federal research money last year.

Strong closed by saying that despite the current economic situation, UMHS is increasing its community outreach.

“It is increasingly difficult in this economic environment to provide the level of benefit to the community that it needs,” he said. “Amidst all of our other demands, we have significantly expanded our commitment to community benefit in recent years.”

Faculty in Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics eligible for tenure

The Regents approved University Provost Teresa Sullivan’s request to grant tenure to faculty members in the Center for Computational Medicine and Bioinformatics.

Over 100 faculty members work in the center, which was created to foster interdisciplinary studies in the two fields and grow relationships with other universities. Faculty members who are granted tenure will report to the dean of the Medical School.

Sullivan said allowing tenure for these individuals would help to recruit the highest qualified faculty for future openings at the center.

“(This) will greatly improve our ability to attract world class investigators,” she said.

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