During its monthly meeting yesterday, the University’s Board of Regents unanimously approved a proposal to install permanent field lights at Michigan Stadium.
In the past, temporary lighting has been brought in to illuminate the Big House for late afternoon games. With an outdoor hockey game at the stadium slated for December and a football game to be played at night next season, advocates of the project — that has a $1.8 million budget — said the lights would be used fairly regularly.
In an Athletic Department press release, distributed yesterday, Athletic Director David Brandon said the new lights will greatly improve fans’ and players’ experiences at the Big House.
“The addition of permanent lights will improve the quality of viewing experience for our fans,” Brandon wrote in the release. “We take great pride in having the best game day experience in college football and this will further enhance that position.”
The permanent lights will also result in both short-term and long-term dollar savings, according to Brandon’s statement.
“Short term there will be a cost savings on the rental fee associated with bringing in lights for the Big Chill and long-term it eliminates the need for lights to be brought in every time we play a 3:30 p.m. football game,” Brandon wrote.
The lights are expected to be installed in time for the Big Chill at the Big House, which will be played on Dec. 11, according to the press release. And the Sept. 10, 2011 football game against Notre Dame will be the first home night game in the history of the Michigan football program. The University has previously played 33 night games at away or neutral sites.
Darlow, regents condemn character attacks
Regent Julia Darlow (D–Ann Arbor) read a statement at the start of the meeting yesterday condemning character attacks on members of the University community.
“When any member of the University of Michigan community is targeted because of his or her identity, we are all attacked,” Darlow said. “We know that our community will continue to stand together and uphold the University’s values with dignity and respect.”
Andrew Shirvell, a civil service employee in the appellate division of Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox’s office, has come under recent scrutiny for his outspoken criticism of Michigan Student Assembly President Chris Armstrong. In his blog, Shirvell criticizes Armstrong’s alleged “radical homosexual agenda,” The Michigan Daily reported earlier this week.
Shrivell has also protested at several campus events where Armstrong has been present and spoke during the community concern portion of last week’s MSA meeting, during which he called for Armstrong’s resignation.
Darlow hinted toward Shirvell’s actions by saying that these are “recent events that concern (the regents) greatly.”
Regents apprehensively approve new South Quad elevator
The regents tentatively approved a plan to replace the 60-year-old freight elevator in the South Quadrangle Residence Hall with a combination passenger-freight elevator to service the nine-floor residence hall.
Regent Andrew Richner (R–Grosse Pointe Park) raised questions about the plan due to the residence hall’s layout. According to Richner, the kitchen in South Quad is separated from the dining hall by the current elevator exhaust system. Because of this, the new elevator plan may require the exhaust system to be moved, which could incur more costs when the residence hall is renovated.
“We may want to think about (the kitchen) in the context of this elevator repair,” Richner said. “Maybe we could avoid some future cost by incorporating it into this project.”
Tim Slottow, the University’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, and E. Royster Harper, the University’s vice president for student affairs, couldn’t speak to the details of the placement of the elevator exhaust system because the plans for the South Quad renovations haven’t been made yet.
“The details of the design of the South Quad renovation isn’t done yet,” Slottow said.
Munson, Forrest reappointed
The regents unanimously reappointed Vice President of Research Stephen Forrest and College of Engineering Dean David Munson to their respective posts.
In a letter to the regents, University President Mary Sue Coleman recommended that Forrest be reappointed to another five-year term — effective Jan. 1, 2011.
In an interview with the Daily after the meeting, Coleman said Forrest is a tremendous asset to the University and has helped shape the long-term vision of the University in terms of research.
“He’s really turned us in a different direction, not only in supporting great basic research and things we’ve always done well, but in really tying us closer to opportunities with industry and making it easier to commercialize our research,” Coleman said.
University Provost Philip Hanlon also wrote a letter to the regents recommending they appoint Munson to a second five-year term — also effective Jan. 1, 2011. He wrote that Munson has helped to transform the College of Engineering.
“Under Dean Munson’s leadership, the college has established records for research volume, technology transfer, fundraising and student enrollment,” Hanlon wrote. “He is committed to excellence at all levels, including strong support for outstanding faculty hiring and organizational restructuring.”
Regents criticized during public comments
During the public comments portion of yesterday’s regents’ meeting, Douglas Smith, a former faculty member of the University’s Medical School, condemned Richner and Regent Andrea Fischer Newman (R–Ann Arbor) — the two Republicans on the board both up for re-election this fall — in a biting five-minute speech.
“Given their performance, I urge the voters of Michigan not to re-elect (Richner and Newman),” Smith said.
He criticized Richner and Newman on a variety of issues, ranging from the University’s relationship with Chinese universities and researchers to the ever-rising cost of tuition.
Regents Laurence Deitch (D–Bingham Farms), Olivia Maynard (D–Goodrich) and S. Martin Taylor (D–Grosse Pointe Farms) — all Democrats — vehemently defended their Republican colleagues.
Regents approve other construction plans
The regents also unanimously approved three other construction plans.
First, the regents approved renovations to the second floor of the Michigan Memorial Phoenix Laboratory. Schematic designs for a 10,000 square-foot addition to the building were also approved.
The $11.1 million project will be funded with resources from University investment proceeds, the Office of the Vice President for Research and the College of Engineering. The project is scheduled to be finished in the spring of 2013.
The regents green-lit a $4.9 million renovation to the Auxiliary Services Building of the School of Art and Design. The renovation will increase studio and office space by 4o percent and save the University $114,000 in recurring costs for space that is currently being leased. The project is expected to be finished next summer.
— Daily News Editor Kyle Swanson contributed to this report.