On Thursday, the University’s Board of Regents met and approved the funding and schematics for multiple million-dollar construction projects, including a new $2.8-million marquee outside of Michigan Stadium.
University Athletic Director Dave Brandon came to speak on behalf of the request to approve the marquee.
He said the marquee will be 21 feet above the ground at 27 feet high and 48 feet wide. It will be located on East Stadium Boulevard between Crisler Arena and Michigan Stadium and will also be visible from Main Street. Brandon said it will have speakers, but the speakers will likely only be used on game days.
“(It’s a) pretty cool communication tool to really promote our student athletes and our coaches, our events and all the things that are associated specifically with Michigan Athletics,” Brandon said.
And yet, University Regent Denise Ilitch (D–Bingham Farms), expressed that she had received e-mails from the concerned members of the community. She suggested that the board might also be used to promote non-profit organizations or other segments of the University.
Brandon responded, saying he would consider it, but that the University should be mindful in using the marquee.
“We have to be careful how we manage that, or it will turn out to be a community billboard as opposed to the investment we’re making, (which) is on behalf of our fans and student athletes,” he said.
The Athletic Department had another request unanimously approved by the Regents to appropriate $9 million from the Athletic Department for a renovation and addition to the museum portion of Schembechler Hall, to be completed in the winter of 2014. The project will add 7,000 square feet to the building, renovating the existing 7,000 square feet.
The schematics for a $34-million parking structure on Wall Street, which were initially approved a few months ago, were approved unanimously by the board as well.
The structure, which will have 725 parking spots, will be completed in 2014 and will be funded by parking resources.
Timothy Slottow, the University’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, explained that parking resources amount to the capital fund generated from the approximately 27,000 parking spaces on campus, among other forms of revenue.
Regent Katherine White (D–Ann Arbor) said the Wall Street parking structure — which has been discussed for several years — drew wide criticism from the community over its aesthetics when first proposed in 2008.
“We had a lot of e-mails and phone calls, and people were very upset about us building a parking structure down there,” White said.
But she added that this time, people have been much more positive.
“It sounds to me, from what I’ve seen and heard, that a lot more was taken into account to make the parking structure a little more amenable to people living there,” White said.
The Institute of Social Research also sought to re-approve the budget for renovations on budgets from $23 million to $29 million.
Slottow said that $15 million of the $29 million is coming from a grant from an agency within the National Institute of Health.
“The grant is a real feather in ISR’s cap because NIH does not generally make grants for capital renewal — usually (they’re) for research,” he said.
Earlier in the meeting, the board listened to a 10-minute presentation by George Alter, a University professor and director of Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research, a subset of the ISR. Alter gave a description of the ISR, which researches a wide variety of topics ranging from politics to drug use to consumer trends and income dynamics, among several others.
Lastly, the regents approved the schematics for a new 78,000-square-foot School of Nursing building.
“It’s been in planning for over a decade,” Slottow said. “This is basically the result of 10 years of planning and saving to do the project. We’re ready to actually get it done.”
The reports section of the meeting was relatively brief and focused on the research report.
During the research report, the meeting temporarily took on the air of a physics lecture when Stephen Forrest, the University’s vice president for research, explained the University’s involvement in the discovery of the Higgs boson particle at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN.
“(The University is) one of the largest teams at CERN, and it played a pivotal role in developing the statistics that led to what’s now looking like the discovery of the key particle,” he said. “Michigan played a very, very significant role in this activity.”
University President Mary Sue Coleman took time in her remarks to congratulate the University Autonomy team — whose autonomous boat recently won a national competition — and the University Solar Car team, which currently leads the American Solar Challenge in an endurance race across the nation.
Correction Appended: A previous version of this article misidentified the number of parking spots in the Wall Street parking structure. There are 725 parking spots, not 530.