During its first public meeting since December, the University’s Board of Regents convened Thursday to approve an array of construction projects, including large-scale renovation plans for two University residence halls, as well as to approve the appointment of Martha Pollack, the University’s vice provost for budgetary affairs, as the University’s next provost.
Last month, the regents assembled in California to meet with higher-education leaders and donors in lieu of an official January meeting. As a result, Thursday marked the first official appearance of Regents Mark Bernstein (D-Ann Arbor) and Shauna Ryder Diggs (D-Grosse Pointe) since assuming their positions in January.
Regents approve South Quad design
As the next step in plans to renovate South Quad, the board approved designs for the $60 million project that was passed at its meeting last September.
The project will create a Central Campus dining center, similar to that of the Hill Dining Center that services multiple residence halls. Additionally, the updates would add improvements to bathrooms, lounges, study rooms and music practice spaces. The renovations will mostly focus on the ground floor and first floor, covering in total 106,700 square feet of space. Individual dormitories will not be altered.
“This is a crucial continuation of the residential life initiative phase two,” Timothy Slottow, the University’s executive vice president and chief financial officer said.
Chris Purdy, a project manager for the SmithGroupJJR architecture and engineering firm, presented the schematic design to the board, mentioning that students were involved with its design.
“The planning process for this project thus far starting early last year involved extensive involvement from the students,” Purdy said. “A number of focus groups were held to really gain the students’ perspective on the project and what they would really like to see.”
Slated for completion in the summer of 2014, the bulk of the plan’s cost goes toward structural improvements such as plumbing, heating and a fire detection system.
Helen Newberry, Betsy Barbour and West Quad dining halls are set to close with the inception of the South Quad dining hall.
Regents approve West Quad renovation
To complement the South Quad projects, the board approved a $114.5 million West Quad renovation, which will include plumbing and heating improvements and a new roof for the aging residence hall.
The project will commence in 2014 on the heels of South Quad’s completion. With South Quad’s new Central Campus Dining Center, the West Quad renovation will eliminate the dorm’s kitchen and dining hall in favor of new common spaces and study areas. Built in 1937, West Quad is the third residence hall scheduled for construction as part of the University’s Residential Life Initiative, designed to update facilities associated with living on campus.
“The goals of the program were to ensure that we had state-of-the-art life-safety programs, to upgrade the infrastructure in heritage facilities, to modernize our dining facilities across campus, to introduce different styles of living arrangements and to design facilities that allow for better connection between living and learning,” University Housing Director Linda Newman said in an interview.
E. Royster Harper, the University’s vice president for student affairs, said the renovation will create community spaces similar to the Hill residence halls.
“(West Quad) has been an important community to generations of Michigan students,” Harper said during the meeting. “Our students spend a great deal of time in their campus homes, which are vitally important for their social experiences, to their academic studies and to their personal identity within the University community.”
Harper listed improvements common spaces, temperature control and privacy in community bathrooms as key aspects of the project.
Architectural firm Integrated Design Solutions LLC will draft a proposal to be submitted to the regents at a later date.
Regents approve museum collections transfer to Varsity Drive building
The board also approved plans to renovate the off-campus Varsity Drive building and prepare it to hold dry museum research collections from several Central Campus buildings.
Additionally, the project will relocate related lab spaces and select offices of the anthropology, paleontology and zoology departments currently at the Ruthven Museums Building, the Campus Safety Services Building and the C.C. Little Science Building to the renovated space on Varsity Drive.
“It’s a very large project but it will really simplify and improve the research and accessibility to the collections,” Slottow said.
Funded by LSA, the $27.5-million project is expected to improve administrative efficiency by combining the collections with wet specimen collections currently located in the Varsity Drive building.
Located off East Ellsworth Road between State Street and Stone School Road, the building is currently a warehouse. Renovations will include temperature and humidity controls, as well as architectural, mechanical and electrical improvements to facilitate the new additions.
Architectural firm SmithGroupJJR will design the 71,000 square feet Varsity Drive building renovation. These plans will also be submitted for approval at a future meeting.
Schematic Design for College of Pharmacy renovations approved
The board approved schematic design plans to improve the main entrance and 12,000 square feet of the basement and first floor of the College of Pharmacy Building.
The school’s budget will fund the $2.6-million project and completion is projected for next fall.
In a message to the board, Slottow wrote the project will “address accessibility issues and provide a more welcoming entry.”
University appointments approved
The regents approved the appointment of Martha Pollack, the University’s vice provost of budgetary affairs, to be the University’s next provost.
The announcement was made in January that Coleman would present Pollack for the two year appointment. Pollack will replace University Provost Phil Hanlon, who is leaving the University in July to become the next president of his alma mater, Dartmouth College.
Pollack currently works in Hanlon’s office crafting the University budget, including the general fund budget, as well as helping with the space-saving initiatives to better use classroom space and other projects.
A University faculty member since 2000, Pollack was previously dean of the School of Information.
In her new role as provost, Pollack will oversee the budget as the University’s chief budgetary officer. She will also advise academic affairs as the University’s chief academic officer. She will continue to serve as a professor in the School of Information and the College of Engineering.
Additionally, the regents approved LSA Dean Terrence McDonald to become the director of the Bentley Historical Library when his term as LSA dean is over on Aug. 31. The regents also approved Mark West, the Law School’s associate dean for academic affairs and Nippon Life Professor of Law, as the next Law School dean.
Peter Shahin, Jen Calfas and Paige Pearcy contributed reporting.