The University is not immune to the effects of the plunging stock market, but it is in good shape, University Chief Financial Officer Robert Kasdin assured the Board of Regents at its monthly meeting yesterday.
The last time the markets were in a comparable state was in the fall of 1997, Kasdin said. Since then the University”s debt has decreased by 5 percent, and its overall financial health is much better, he added.
The University”s finances are arranged in a way that delays the full effect of fluctuations in the market, allowing the University time to plan its response, he said.
Not only are the University”s finances affected by economic response to last week”s terrorist attacks, but the attacks also claimed the lives of two alumni who served as financial advisers for the University. Josh Rosenthal, senior vice president of Fiduciary Trust Co., and David Alger, president of Fred Alger Management Inc., both worked in the World Trade Center and are among the thousands who are dead or missing.
Kasdin said the Rosenthal family has expressed interest in starting a scholarship in Josh Rosenthal”s name.
“We”re very pleased with the scholarship. He was an undergraduate at the University and very interested in public policy,” said Marilynn Rosenthal, a sociology professor at the University”s Dearborn campus.
University Vice President for Development Susan Feagin said the University did not receive as many monetary gifts in the fiscal year 2000-2001 as it did the previous year, but the amount of donations was above $200 million for the second straight year.
In addition, the amount of outright donations from University alumni for fiscal year 2001 exceeded $105 million.
“That”s very promising because that”s where our greatest opportunity for future donations is,” Feagin said.
Feagin said Michigan Telefund, which calls alumni for donations, suspended calling after the terrorist attacks and resumed this Tuesday. She said she was pleasantly surprised by the positive response. Alumni appeared willing to donate about the same amount of money as usual. Operators reported that conversations tend to last longer now because people want to talk, Feagin said.
University President Lee Bollinger and Vice President for Student Affairs E. Royster Harper described the University community”s response to last Tuesday”s attacks.
“The horrific events of a week ago have had a profound effect on the campus,” Bollinger said.
Last Tuesday”s vigil, which drew 15,000 people to the Diag, was the first expression of the University and the surrounding community”s “sense of loss and desire to do something,” he said.
Bollinger also highlighted the numerous gatherings, including discussion panels and other candlelight vigils.
Harper called notice to the University”s counseling services and the efforts in residence halls.
The regents also moved ahead with regular business, unanimously approving the schematic design for the new Biomedical Sciences Research Building and giving the go-ahead for excavation for utilities to begin on the site.
The five-story building is designed to foster a sense of community, said Todd Schliemann, a partner with New York City-based Polshek Partnership Architects, the firm that designed the building.
Schliemann presented renderings detailing the interior and exterior of the building. It will feature an atrium that divides office space from laboratory space running the entire height of the building. The atrium divides office space from laboratory space, and bridges carry people from one to the other. The result is an open environment where people can see each other on all different floors.
“There is so much excitement about this project, especially in the Medical School, that we wish it were available now,” said University Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs Gilbert Omenn.