At the University’s Board of Regents meeting Thursday, several renovation projects and appointments were approved, including an updated plan for the Intramural Sports Building and the confirmation of a new University chief financial officer.
Renovations to athletic buildings
The regents approved a budget increase for the renovation of the Intramural Sports Building. The budget for the project has now been extended from $18.7 million to $21.4 million. The additional funds will be used in part to build more group exercise rooms, add perimeter drains and install air conditioning.
The additional funding will be provided by investment proceeds and the Student Life Student Fee for Facility Renewal.
E. Royster Harper, vice president for student life, who included mention of the renovations in her report to the regents, said preserving the building is important. At the time it was constructed in 1928, the facility was the first collegiate intramural sports building in the country.
“The project will preserve the history of the 87-year-old iconic facility,” Royster said. “It will also promote the health and wellness of our students, faculty and staff.”
LSA senior Jacob Light, a member of Building a Better Michigan and a Residential Adviser, said during public commentary he believes the renovation will be a worthwhile investment. Building a Better Michigan is a student advisory group for the University’s unions and recreation buildings.
“I invest time and energy into these projects so that my first-year residents, students that I give campus tours to, my younger brother and future generations of Michigan students have access to quality exercise facilities,” he said. “We renovate in the hopes of giving the IM building the opportunity to be self-sufficient in years to come.”
Harper said the project’s planning has involved feedback from approximately 2,000 students, faculty and staff members.
The original renovation plans included new racquetball courts, locker rooms, and group fitness and weightlifting rooms. Updates to plumbing, staff office rooms, wireless networking and wiring, exterior window replacement, masonry repairs, as well as lighting improvements and a gym floor replacement are also planned.
The renovation is scheduled for completion in fall 2016.
The board also approved the demolition of a South State building formerly owned by publishing company Edwards Brothers Malloy. The demolition is intended to create additional land for the construction of a $168 million athletic complex approved by the regents in September. The $2.4 million price tag is included in the projects total $168 million budget.
The additional land will both provide for future stormwater management and reduce wetland impact during the complex’s construction.
The demolition process for the building, which was vacated in December 2014, is slated to begin in April 2015, and will be completed by Summer 2015.
Academic calendar revisions
The regents discussed an action request submitted by University Provost Martha Pollack suggesting changes to the winter 2016 academic calendar to accommodate the Jewish holiday of Passover as well as Greek Orthodox Easter.
This conversation also expanded to discuss recent outcry from students regarding the fall 2015 academic calendar, which currently has exams scheduled to end Dec. 23.
These dates would effectively shorten winter break by four days compared to this year’s break, and could force out-of-state students to travel home on Christmas Eve.
More than 5,000 students have signed a petition created Monday to change the fall 2015 dates. The petition was originally circulated by members of a classroom group project titled “Crush the Calendar.” Several members of the group attended the meeting.
Kinesiology sophomore William McPherson spoke to the regents during public commentary on behalf of the group.
He said the late exam schedule would hurt many students due to the high cost of airline prices and overcrowded airports on days near Christmas Day, as well as cause international and out-of-state students to potentially miss Christmas due to extended travel time.
“We believe that any exams on such a late day will have negative repercussions on students, faculty and families,” McPherson said.
The group has proposed changing the calendar to either shorten or eliminate the Fall Study Break in October, or begin classes before Labor Day.
“We would appreciate the opportunity to work alongside with the Board of Regents in an effort to find an academic calendar that works both for the administration and the student body,” he said.
In response, Pollack said beginning classes before Labor Day wasn’t feasible.
“Beginning classes before Labor Day simply won’t work, especially this year, for a number of reasons,” she said. “I think it is important to understand that the reason the last day of finals is so late this year is because Labor Day moved earlier and earlier and earlier, and this year it was September 1st and next year it falls on September 7th.”
However, she said the regents would consider shortening or eliminating Fall Break if a majority of students agreed.
“I am completely willing, and I think the board would be completely supportive, if the student body as a whole wanted to eliminate the study break,” Pollack said. “But we do need to get a sense, not just from a small group of students, but from a large group of students.”
Fall Break was originally proposed in 2001 by the Michigan Student Assembly, now CSG, and approved unanimously by the Board of Regents.
Pollack said she would meet with CSG President Bobby Dishell, a Public Policy senior, to discuss the issue further.
New appointment approvals
The regents approved several new appointments and reappointments at the meeting.
Kevin Hegarty, current vice president and chief financial officer at the University of Texas at Austin, was approved as the University’s chief financial officer and executive vice president.
University President Mark Schlissel announced Monday that he would recommend Hegarty, who held his position at UTA for 14 years. In April, he will take over for Douglas Strong, interim executive vice president and chief financial officer.
The previous executive vice president and chief financial officer, Tim Slottow, held the position for 12 years. He left his post last year to assume the presidency at the University of Phoenix.
During his tenure, Slottow worked closely with University President Emerita Mary Sue Coleman to initiate several cost saving programs, including a strategic sourcing program designed to cut costs by buying supplies in bulk. He also helped launch the Administrative Services Transformation initiative, a controversial program designed to increase efficiency by consolidating department-level employees in a shared services center.
A certified public accountant, Hegarty was formerly the vice president and chief financial officer of Dell Financial Services LP. He serves on the boards of NewComLink and the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce.
Hegarty said the opportunity arrived at the right time for him, as other UTA administrators were also rethinking their positions.
“It’s one of the number one publics,” Hegarty said in an interview with The Michigan Daily. “When we compare ourselves at the University of Texas to other great public universities… the University of Michigan is always near the top, so it’s a great opportunity.”
In an e-mail to faculty and staff Monday, Schlissel thanked Strong for his service to the University as CFO and welcomed Hegarty.
“My recommendation of Mr. Hegarty follows a successful and competitive search process,” he wrote. “I thank the members of the search committee for their thorough efforts leading to this outstanding recommendation.”
The regents also approved Pollack’s recommendation for a new dean of the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies.
Chemistry Prof. Carol Fierke, chair of the department, will take over for Dean Janet A. Weiss.
Fierke is a postdoctoral graduate from Pennsylvania State University. She has published 217 research articles and reviews and received grants from foundations including the National Science Foundation and the American Cancer Society.
In her time at the University, Fierke has received the Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award and the Jerome and Isabella Karle Distinguished University Professor of Chemistry title, among other accolades.
Weiss has held the post since 2005.
“I’m honored to serve the University of Michigan in this important leadership role,” Fierke said in a University news release. “I look forward to working with my new colleagues to further enhance the experience of graduate study for students and faculty.”
The regents also reappointed Daniel Little to his post as chancellor of the University’s Dearborn campus through June 2018. Little has held the position since 2000.
CSG president talks new projects
CSG President Bobby Dishell addressed spoke on a number of issues involving CSG, including student safety and a proposed honor code, as well as a proposal to pay the CSG president.
Dishell said he appreciated University Parking and Transportation Services’ additional funding to the Night Owl bus route, a service created by CSG that runs late at night to help transport students living off campus home safely. The route was initially slated to end this semester, but the funding from PTS has allowed it to continue.
According to Dishell, the route transported 13,000 people in the last year.
At the end of his address, Dishell voiced concerns with the potential for some students to be excluded from running for CSG executive positions based on socio-economic status.
He said both he and his vice president work 30 to 50 hours per week, meaning that for students who need to devote time to work-study or off-campus jobs, the position would be impossible to do.
Dishell asked the board to consider creating some form of reimbursement for CSG executives to allow more students to take on student leadership.
“The current job structure eliminates many students that could potentially do an infinitely better job than I or my predecessors,” Dishell said. “Unfortunately, this means that students of privilege will likely hold these roles until we do something to fix this. And to me, that is not right, just or fair.”