The University’s Board of Regents unanimously approved a revision to Regents Bylaw 5.09 today, which will allow schools and colleges on campus to extend the upper limit of their tenure probationary periods by up to two years.

The vote comes months after University Provost Philip Hanlon publicly introduced the proposal to members of the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs, the leading faculty governance body on campus, and approximately two months after Hanlon introduced his proposal to the University community for feedback.

At today’s meeting, Hanlon stressed the revision to the bylaw would not force schools or colleges to adjust their tenure-clock periods, but would allow each school and college the flexibility to make adjustments if deemed appropriate by the unit’s faculty governing body.

After the meeting, Hanlon said he would be establishing a committee to monitor how the change impacts each school and college to make sure the concerns raised by some faculty do not adversely affect tenure-track faculty.

“I think it’s in the best interest of the University and excellence of our faculty,” Hanlon said. “There are concerns that have been raised, and I’m going to be convening a committee to advise me on how I can provide oversight and monitoring … to make sure those concerns are not realized.”

In an interview after the meeting, University President Mary Sue Coleman said she was pleased with the regents’ decision to amend the bylaw.

“I thought we had a good discussion,” Coleman said. “I, like the provost, am convinced this is the right thing for the institution, and schools can decide what they want.”

Board approves $18.6 million in construction, renovations

The Board of Regents also approved three campus construction projects estimated to cost $18.6 million.

The largest of the projects will renovate 10,000 square feet of the second floor of the Michigan Memorial Phoenix Laboratory and will add 10,000 square feet onto the building for administrative support of the Phoenix Energy Institute. The project is estimated to cost $11.1 million and is expected to be completed in the spring of 2013.

The regents also approved $6.2 million to place a modular data center on North Campus behind the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. The facility, at only 700 square feet, will help Information and Technology Services in its IT rationalization initiative, Laura Patterson, the University’s chief information officer and associate vice president, told the regents.

The Board of Regents also approved a $1.3-million renovation of 12,500 square feet of the University’s Orthotics and Prosthetics Center. The renovation is meant to improve patient and staff safety as well as provide space necessary for growth.

Courant’s contract extended for additional year and a half

An extension to Paul Courant’s appointment as the University’s dean of libraries was approved by the Board of Regents yesterday.

With the regents’ approval, Courant’s contract was extended for an additional one and a half years. His updated agreement with the University will expire on Aug. 1, 2013.

Speaking in support of Courant’s work as the University’s chief librarian, University Provost Philip Hanlon half-joked that he wished Courant would have extended his contract for a longer period of time.

“I would have gotten more time from him if I could have, but that was all he was willing to agree to,” Hanlon said, after which many regents and executive officers laughed.

Regents approve new degree, certificate program in health informatics

The Board of Regents approved a request to establish a new joint master’s degree and certificate program in health informatics at its meeting today.

Following a recommendation submitted by University Provost Philip Hanlon, School of Information Dean Jeffrey MacKie-Mason and Martin Philbert, the dean of the School of Public Health, the regents approved the program, which is aimed at training students to develop a “human-centered approach to the development and deployment of health information technologies.”

Students who complete the new graduate program will be required to complete 52 credit hours of study in the discipline for the degree. However, students in other graduate programs can earn a graduate certificate in health informatics by completing 18 credits of study in the field.

According to the recommendation presented to the regents, officials are hoping to have the certificate program ready for students by the fall and the degree program ready by fall 2012. However, the program must first be approved at the state level.

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