With University President Lee Bollinger poised to assume the presidency at Columbia University, he will leave behind a number of initiatives for which he has provided momentum during the past four years.
With the Life Sciences Institute rapidly taking shape to become a real, physical presence on campus and as the appeals hearing for two high-profile lawsuits challenging the University”s race-conscious admissions policies looms, the future of these and other University issues are suddenly in doubt.
Even more progress has been made on these fronts since March, when it was first rumored that Bollinger might leave Ann Arbor for Harvard University.
Only weeks after Harvard passed over Bollinger in favor of former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman dealt the University of Michigan”s Law School a blow, striking down the school”s race sensitive admissions policies.
The lawsuit was filed early in Bollinger”s presidency, and the former Law School dean has been a vocal supporter of the benefits of diversity in higher education throughout his presidency, affirming affirmative action policies as a means of achieving diversity.
Bollinger will be at the University when the Law School case, along with a similar case challenging race-conscious admissions policies in the University”s College of Literature, Science and the Arts, are appealed in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati later this month. He will most likely be in Ann Arbor when the court hands down its decision.
The University maintains it has built strong cases for the use of race as one of many factors in admissions policies, and it has been speculated that the two cases will eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court. If that is the case, Bollinger will almost certainly watch from New York City as those lawsuits are indeed appealed to the high court.
In addition to providing a strong presence in support of the University”s admissions policies, Bollinger has spearheaded many campus initiatives.
With Bollinger”s support, the University has pledged hundreds of millions of dollars to the Life Sciences Initiative, which aims to propel the University to the forefronts of biological research and technology.
Construction on the Life Sciences Institute was already well under way when it was made public that Bollinger was one of the top three candidates for Harvard”s top position in March.
The Institute formally kicked off its activities in April with co-directors Jack Dixon and Scott Emr at the helm, and the initiative appears to have enough momentum to maintain progress. The University Board of Regents approved the budget and schematic design for the Biomedical Sciences Research Building at their most recent meeting.
“I”m very confident in the fact that all the projects and programs Bollinger began will be carried on by his successor,” said MSA Treasurer Josh Samek.
Bollinger was essentially the single driving force behind the soon-to-be constructed Arthur Miller Theater. It”s unknown how progress on the project will continue without Bollinger at the helm of the University.
It”s possible that the search for a new permanent provost will be put on hold at least temporarily while the University adjusts to Bollinger”s pending departure. After Nancy Cantor left Ann Arbor to become chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign this summer, Vice President and Secretary Lisa Tedesco was appointed by Bollinger to serve as interim provost.
Bollinger is currently chair of the provost search committee. MSA President Matt Nolan, a member of the provost search committee charged with finding a permanent provost, said Bollinger was in attendance at the committee”s meeting yesterday morning and that business proceeded as usual.