Correction appended: In an earlier version of this story, the position of Regent Olivia Maynard that administrators should make sure not to get too involved in the student controlled process of finding space for the Michigan Review was incorrectly attributed to Regent Andrea Newman.
University Provost Teresa Sullivan told the Board of Regents at its monthy meeting yesterday that several key federal initiatives would help students with the cost of attending the University next year.
The first initiative, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, would provide a $2,500 tax credit on 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 tuition payments for individuals earning less than $80,000 or joint filers earning less than $160,000. Sullivan estimated that more than 22,000 families with students at the University would qualify for the tax credit.
Sullivan also told the regents that an increase to the Federal Pell Grant Program would benefit between 3,200 and 3,300 students at the University’s Ann Arbor campus. The announced increase will raise the maximum Pell Grant to $5,350 — an increase of $619.
Sullivan said the increase would give the University nearly $2 million in financial aid to reallocate to other students, as the increased Pell Grants would mean a smaller contribution from the University to meet demonstrated financial need of in-state students.
However, in an interview after the meeting, Sullivan admitted that if tuition is raised by more than $619 next year, the $2 million would likely not be able to be reallocated, as it would be needed to help the students it currently serves.
An increase in work study funding will also help students, Sullivan said. According to Sullivan’s presentation, the Federal Work Study program will increase the University’s work study funding by $1.6 million, which will provide an estimated 440 additional student jobs during the 2009-2010 academic year.
Regents approve $70 million in construction and renovations
The regents approved nearly $70 million in construction and renovation proposals to upgrade University housing, parking and academic facilities.
The largest of the three projects, a proposed renovation to Couzens Hall, will cost the University approximately $49 million to complete. The project will renovate the building’s 180,000 square feet beginning in May 2010 and is expected to be completed in time for the fall 2011 term.
Improvements to the building are slated to include air conditioning and wireless Internet access for the entire building, renovation of the building’s bathrooms, utility and safety upgrades and modifications that allow for greater building accessibility. Due to the renovations, the building will be closed for the 2010-2011 academic year.
Though Couzens will need close for the year, University President Mary Sue Coleman said North Quad — scheduled to open in time for the 2010-2011 academic year — will offset the loss of housing due to the renovations.
University Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Timothy Slottow said the renovation is part of the University’s Residential Life Initiative, which also includes a future renovation of Alice Lloyd Hall.
Other proposals approved during the meeting included a 10,000-square-foot addition to the Engineering Programs Building on North Campus to provide additional space for student groups like Solar Car and Concrete Canoe.
The regents also approved a re-designed proposal for the Thompson Street Parking Structure, which will add 273 parking spaces and a 9,000 square foot office building for the Office of Budget and Planning and the Office of Parking and Transportation Services.
Michigan Review seeks help in office space dispute
Business senior Karen Boore, who serves as publisher of the Michigan Review, asked regents for assistance yesterday in cutting through bureaucracy that may force the publication from its longtime office in the Michigan League.
Boore presented the regents with a 16-page packet that outlined what had happened to the Michigan Review and urged the regents to intervene in the situation.
According to the report, the Michigan Review failed to re-register as a student organization with the Michigan Student Assembly. Because of this, the organization did not receive information about renewing office spaces for the coming year.
Boore said the group did not re-register as a student organization because the group does not receive MSA funding. Furthermore, Boore said communication from MSA did not mention that a student organization status would be necessary to renew the group’s office space lease.
After listening to Boore and reviewing some of the supporting documentation, several regents voiced support for a closer examination of the process and assistance for the group.
Regent Andrew Richner (R-Grosse Pointe Park) asked administrators to look into the matter further.
“It seems to me there are some valid issues that have been raised,” he said. “I’m particularly concerned about due process and how the student organization were notified.”
Laurence Deitch (D–Bingham Farms) also said steps should be taken to assist the Michigan Review in securing an office space.
“We ought to try to figure out with students a way the students can support the Michigan Review because I think the diversity of views is very important,” he said. “I probably don’t agree with most of the things in the Review but I think the voice is very important on this campus and it’s a value that’s consistent with our institution.”
Regent Olivia Maynard (D-Goodrich) supported Richner’s and Deitch’s request, but said administrators needed to respect the student control of the process. Regent Andrea Newman (R-Ann Arbor) expressed her agreement with Maynard’s position.