The University’s Board of Regents will meet this month for a strategic session closed to the public to discuss topics concerning the future of higher education.
Regent Denise Ilitch (D) wrote in an e-mail interview the meeting would focus on a diverse range of initiatives.
“We will be discussing Academic Excellence and its evolving direction, the Biosciences, Challenges confronting the higher education business model, Diversity at UM, UM Health System and Athletics,” Ilitch wrote.
The meeting is also intended to recognize the one-year anniversary of the selection of University President Mark Schlissel, who was appointed by the regents to succeed President Emerita Mary Sue Coleman in January 2014.
Additionally, Ilitch said the sessions will give the board the opportunity to orient incoming Regent Michael Behm (D–Grand Blanc), who was elected in November 2014. Behm replaced outgoing regent Julia Darlow (D), who chose not to run for reelection.
This is the first of the strategic sessions to be held in Ann Arbor. In 2013 and 2014, the regents traveled to California and New York, respectively.
In California, the regents met with Google research scientist Dan Russell, Stanford University President John Hennessy and Robert Berdahl, former president of the Association of American Universities.
During last winter’s trip to New York, the board met with leaders from several East Coast higher education institutions, including Bill Bowen, Princeton University president emeritus; Peter Salovey, president of Yale University; Edward Miller, and Michael Johns, retired executive vice president for health affairs at Emory University. Johns was eventually tapped to serve as the University of Michigan Health System’s interim chief executive officer after the departure of former UMHS CEO Ora Pescovitz.
The trip also included several development events, including a dinner fundraiser at Lincoln Center. The events cost $90,000 and were paid for with Office of Development funds.
Regent Katherine White (D) wrote in an e-mail interview that the meeting is local this year because they will not be meeting with external higher ed officials, as they’ve done in the past.
“This meeting is internally focused and we will neither be meeting with outside speakers nor traveling outside the state of Michigan,” White wrote. “Instead, this session is to give the Board an opportunity to have long-term strategic sessions with our new President, Dr. Mark Schlissel.”
White, who chairs the board, did not attend the trips to California or New York.
Prior to 2013, the regents typically held a public meeting in January, as they do each month apart from August.
This semester, Schlissel has expressed interest in several new initiatives at the University, including streamlining the University’s sustainability initiatives and working to increase diversity at the University.
White stressed the importance of the board in helping Schlissel to shape University policies.
“The Board of Regents has taken the role of overall governance and has delegated the day to day operations of the university to the President,” White wrote. “In other words, the Board sets and approves policies for the university and provides oversight. The President, in consultation with the Board, crafts university policies.”
Most recently, Schlissel has begun efforts to combat sexual assault and misconduct on campus. In an e-mail Monday, Schlissel notified students of a survey aimed at gauging the campus climate related to sexual misconduct.
In the e-mail, Schlissel said a number of students had already approached him about their encounters with the topic of sexual misconduct.
“During my first semester as president, I spent a great deal of time engaging with the campus community in various forums, fireside chats, interviews, and other informal meetings,” Schlissel wrote. “At many of these sessions, students spoke openly and personally about sexual assault issues at the University of Michigan, or wrote me directly to share their views on this very important issue.”
Ilitch voiced her support of Schlissel’s sexual misconduct initiative and affirmed that the board would be actively involved in crafting any related policies during the upcoming semester.
“The Regents will play a very active role on this vitally important topic,” Ilitch said.