GRAND RAPIDS — The presidents of the University of Michigan and Grand Valley State University signed a doctoral pharmacy preferred admissions agreement yesterday.

University President Mary Sue Coleman and GVSU President Thomas J. Haas officially launched the Pharmacy Preferred Admission Program at the University’s Board of Regents monthly meeting. The agreement will allow a select few GVSU freshman to receive preferred admissions to the University of Michigan’s doctoral pharmacy program.

The College of Pharmacy will set-aside up to eight spots each year in its PharmD doctoral program for GVSU students. The positions in the four-year program will be awarded to GVSU freshman who complete pre-pharmacy courses, maintain an acceptable grade point average and score high enough on the Pharmacy College Admission Test.

The students will also have to stay in regular contact with a pre-professional advisor, obtain a year of health care work experience and do a certain amount of community service.

At the signing ceremony, Haas said the partnership will help the schools continue to offer benefits to Michigan.

“We have wonderful diversity and we’re providing (what) the state needs, and that’s an educated workforce, citizens for this state and citizens for this nation and the world,” Haas said. “So I’m very thrilled to see how this collaboration is going and I know there will be others along the way.”

Because GVSU doesn’t have a pharmacy school, the agreement will allow students to pursue options they didn’t necessarily know about, Frank Ascione, dean of the University of Michigan’s College of Pharmacy, said in a press release.

“This program allows the U-M College of Pharmacy to tap into a new pool of in-state talent,” Ascione said in the release. “At the same time, it creates opportunities for outstanding Grand Valley students who may not have considered this to be a possible career path.”

The first group of GVSU students will be admitted to the program in the fall of 2011. This agreement marks the first of its kind made by the College of Pharmacy, though the University has already made a similar partnership with GVSU. An agreement reached in 2009 allows University students graduating from the School of Kinesiology to enroll in GVSU’s master’s degree program in occupational therapy.

LEO REPRESENTATIVES ADDRESS REGENTS

Two representatives from the Lecturers’ Employee Organization spoke to the regents yesterday at their monthly meeting regarding different aspects of the ongoing contract negotiations between the union and the University.

Elizabeth Axelson, the lead negotiator for LEO and a lecturer in the English Language Institute, spoke pointedly against potential pay cuts for lecturers. If enacted, she said, the University would be slashing the lecturers’ salaries, which she said are already too low.

“Minimum salaries are $30,000 in Ann Arbor, $26,000 in Dearborn and $25,000 in Flint,” Axelson said. “The median (of) full time lecturers’ salaries is $44,000 — this is less than new, inexperienced, high school teachers with master’s degrees. It’s also less than the national average as reported by the AAUP. They announced $53,112.”

Axelson said LEO is proposing an annual 3-percent, or $2,000, pay raise, which she said in 10 years would bring lecturers’ salaries to the median salary of professors at the University, minus monetary gains from research.

Catherine Daligga, a laid off lecturer, spoke to the regents on behalf of LEO Vice President Kirsten Herold, who was ill. University officials decided not to reappoint Herold earlier this month, much to the chagrin of LEO.

Daligga discussed how lecturer layoffs, which result in fewer discussion sections for classes, make it more difficult for undergraduate students to fulfill their distribution requirements and force them to take upper level courses for which they are ill prepared.

“This winter time for the first time in my eighteen years of teaching here, we experienced serious shortages of 100 and 200 level courses in LS&A,” Daligga said on behalf of Herold. “For the first time ever, first year winter writing courses were completely full, with students waitlisted even for classes that met Mondays at 8 a.m.”

She continued, “Yet, no further sections were open. This left most lecturers with a reduced load — two, instead of three, courses — and students having to delay their first year writing courses until their second year. We saw the same picture across the college.”

LEO representatives and University officials meet weekly to negotiate the contract. According to an article in The Michigan Daily last month, the parties hope to reach an agreement by the end of May.

REGENTS APPROVE THE TRANSFER OF FORD ESTATE

The regents authorized the transfer of the Henry Ford Estate-Fairlane to the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House.

Donated to the University by the Ford Motor Company in 1956, the Ford Estate, and a subsequent gift of $6.5 million, allowed the University to establish the “Dearborn Center” that evolved into the University’s Dearborn campus.

The Dearborn campus pays over $300,000 annually to maintain the estate. If the University had kept the property it is expected that it would have had to pay in excess of $12 million in order to do necessary renovations to the estate’s infrastructure and critical buildings.

The University will transfer the estate to the Ford House, which will operate the estate like a museum. The University will not receive any type of payment for the transaction, Timothy Slottow, executive vice president and chief financial officer, told the regents.

“The transfer of the Henry Ford Estate to the Ford House is expected to enhance program partnerships and to promote shared initiatives of the University and the Ford House,” Slottow wrote in a letter to the regents. “In addition, the Ford House will commit to raising sufficient funds to enhance the stewardship of the property and to achieve this level of museum practice.”

REGENTS GIVE GO-AHEAD FOR CONSTRUCTION

The regents approved $26 million worth of construction to the Medical Campus and to the Institute of Social Research.

Of the funds approved yesterday, $23 million will be spent on an addition to the ISR. The project will be partially funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The four story addition will add 44,700 square feet to the building and will renovate 7,200 square feet of the current building. The addition will house new offices, research areas and storage spaces.

Additionally, the regents approved $3 million to improve the Medical Campus’ pneumatic tube system, which is used to send and receive patient documents throughout the Health System.

The changes will update the 23-year-old system and make it more secure.

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