The University of Michigan announced it will name the athletic campus after developer Stephen M. Ross, following a new $200 million donation from Ross to the university. Of that amount, $100 million is designated for athletics and $100 million will fund the business school, which is already named after Ross because of a previous donation. [Source]
Ann Arbor Public Schools board of education regular meeting (Oct. 24, 2012): In its main business of the meeting, the board approved a $5,192,872 purchase for the district-wide replacement of the computer network and wireless infrastructure. Several central administrators noted that the infrastructure improvement is a cornerstone of the district’s technology plan.
And in keeping with superintendent Patricia Green’s desire to give annual updates to the board on a variety of topics, the AAPS board of trustees heard presentations from the human resources (HR) and informational technology (IT) departments.
Highlights from the human resources report were statistics showing that percentage-wise, more cuts have been made in the last few years to administrative positions than to teaching positions. Trustees also focused on recruitment of teachers that would reflect the same demographic profile as the student population.
Trustees were also given a report on the 2013-2015 technology plan.
In addition to the informational reports, the board was briefed on a partnership between AAPS and Toyota International. The district has been selected by Toyota as the sole participant in a pilot teaching program that will focus on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education. The partnership will bring the methods of Singapore, described as a leading country in STEM innovation, to AAPS.
Also at the meeting, a recommendation to rename the Argus Planetarium – to acknowledge the $100,000 donation to the facility made by IMRA America – was met with enthusiasm by trustees. They also welcomed another naming proposal – to name the Pioneer High School tennis courts after long-time tennis coach Tom “Brick” Pullen. Votes on the naming proposals will come at the next meeting of the board.
University of Michigan board of regents meeting (Feb. 16, 2012): In the wake of a mishandled incident involving child pornography allegedly viewed on a UM health system computer, regents voted last week to start an external investigation into the matter.
Martin Taylor, who introduced the resolution at the start of the meeting, described the situation as “one that is unacceptable to the regents and that we, the regents, feel we must do everything within our power to ensure that it is not repeated.” There had been a six-month lag between the time the incident was initially reported in May of 2011, and action taken by university officials to investigate. A former medical resident, Stephen Jenson, was arrested in mid-December. [.pdf of Taylor's statement]
The university administration had issued its own report on an internal audit earlier this month, with recommendations to improve security and communications. [.pdf of UM report] But regents felt more needed to be done, and have asked UM president Mary Sue Coleman to work with board chair Denise Ilitch to make recommendations for outside consultants who could be hired to carry out an additional investigation.
During public commentary at the meeting, Coleman was sharply criticized for her handling of the situation. One speaker accused her of a repeated pattern of attacking whistleblowers. The remarks prompted some regents to come to Coleman’s defense, calling the accusations unfair.
The ongoing debate about whether to allow graduate student research assistants (GSRAs) to unionize also emerged during the Feb. 16 meeting, when three students spoke about the topic during public commentary. The same issue was the focus of an unusual special meeting that regents held the following week, on Feb. 21. At that meeting – which included heated debate among regents over whether the meeting had been called in conformity with the state’s Open Meetings Act – the board voted 6-2 to oppose Michigan senate bill 197. The bill would prohibit GSRAs from collective bargaining. It was subsequently passed by the Republican-controlled state senate on a 26-12 party-line vote.
Regents acted on a range of other issues during their Feb. 16 meeting. There was no mention of the Feb. 8 special meeting that had been called to approve the use of Michigan Stadium for the National Hockey League’s Winter Classic, scheduled for Jan. 1, 2013. However, one item on the Feb. 16 agenda did relate to UM athletics: a vote to rename the basketball player development center at Crisler in honor of William Davidson, who died in 2009. His family, via the William Davidson Foundation, recently donated $7.5 million to the University of Michigan athletics department.
Another renaming was also approved – for the Computer Science and Engineering Building, in honor of Bob and Betty Beyster. Bob Beyster, who received multiple degrees from UM and founded Science Applications International Corp., recently gave a $15 million gift to the College of Engineering.
In other business, regents voted to revise the board’s bylaws, including a change that eliminated a previous requirement that executives retire after their 70th birthday. Coleman will be 70 when her current contract expires in 2014, but regent Martin Taylor said the change wasn’t being made to accommodate her – it’s to comply with the law, he said. Regents also authorized the appointment of six Thurnau professorships, and took votes that moved forward several previously approved projects, including major renovations at East Quad and the residences in the Lawyers’ Club.
Two presentations were given during the meeting – by Martin Philbert, dean of the School of Public Health, and Doug Engel, chair and professor of cell and developmental biology. Engel’s presentation highlighted recent news that the U.S. National Institutes of Health has authorized an embryonic stem cell line developed by UM researchers to be eligible for federally funded research.
The meeting concluded with public commentary on a variety of issues, including (1) better access to a childcare subsidy available to parents who are UM students; (2) equity for students who are charged out-of-state tuition because they are undocumented immigrants; and (3) criticism of the university’s relationship with China.
At its Feb. 16, 2012 meeting, the University of Michigan board of regents approved renaming the Computer Science and Engineering Building in honor of Bob and Betty Beyster. The building is located at 2260 Hayward Street, on UM’s north campus.
Bob Beyster, who received multiple degrees from UM, is founder and retired chairman of Science Applications International Corp., a research and engineering company. He recently gave a $15 million gift to the College of Engineering, which will be used in part to create the J. Robert Beyster Computational Innovation Graduate Fellows program. The effort will fund research in several fields that link high-performance computing, networking, and storage to applications of importance to society, according to a staff memo.
This brief was filed from the boardroom of …
At its Sept. 15, 2011 meeting, the University of Michigan board of regents authorized naming the university’s golf practice facility the Weisfeld Family Golf Center. Barry and Sally Weisfeld and the Weisfeld Family Foundation have provided financial support to the new facility. The Weisfelds’ son, David, played varsity golf at UM and is a 2010 graduate.
The recently completed $2.5 million golf practice facility, located off of South Main Street, includes indoor putting and chipping areas, driving bays, offices and locker rooms. The low-slung building is designed in the Mission style.
This brief was filed from the boardroom of the Fleming administration building, on UM’s Ann Arbor campus. A more detailed report will follow: [link]
Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners meeting (May 19, 2010): After some debate and dissent, a resolution to set a public hearing on possibly expanding the Washtenaw County Road Commission won approval last week from a majority of county commissioners. The hearing will take place during the board’s July 7 meeting.
Several other measures were approved with little discussion, including setting the county’s millage rate and making changes to the Natural Areas Preservation Program ordinance. A vote on minor changes to the county’s retiree health care trust agreement led one commissioner to express concern that the program is underfunded – the topic is likely to come up at a working session later in the year.
And though the board dissolved the county land bank earlier this year, commissioner Ronnie Peterson vowed on Wednesday to reestablish the entity, saying it was a critical tool to help stabilize home ownership in eastern Washtenaw, which he represents. “I’m going to get this passed at all costs to me.”
The board met in executive session to be briefed on the status of a years-long lawsuit that the townships of Ypsilanti, Salem and August brought against the county regarding the cost of police services contracts. There was no discussion of the case during the public portion of the meeting.
There was another notable issue that was not discussed during Wednesday’s meeting, though it was addressed during public commentary by county clerk Larry Kestenbaum: The possible renaming of a county building in honor of recently retired county administrator Bob Guenzel.
And during her first meeting as the new county administrator, Verna McDaniel received praise from board chair Rolland Sizemore Jr., who said that though she had big shoes to fill, he knew she’d do an excellent job.
A proposal to name a county building on Main Street in honor of recently retired Washtenaw County administrator Bob Guenzel is receiving pushback from one commissioner. At last week’s administrative briefing, Wes Prater told his fellow county commissioners that the resolution being presented at their May 19 board meeting “is going to cause some conversation.”
Conan Smith defended the resolution, which would name the building at 200 N. Main St. the Robert E. Guenzel Government Center. He called Guenzel’s 37-year tenure “remarkable,” saying his length of service and number of accomplishments makes him worthy of the honor. But Prater questioned the process and fairness of the decision, asking, “Who’s being overlooked?”
Also at Wednesday’s briefing, incoming county administrator Verna McDaniel announced her decision to hire Bill Reynolds as deputy administrator. He was one of two finalists who’d been in town earlier this month for a full day of interviews. The board will be asked to approve the hire at its June 2 meeting.
To mark her promotion to county administrator, McDaniel will be honored at a reception prior to the May 19 board meeting, from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at 220 N. Main St.
After last Wednesday’s briefing, commissioners also held a caucus to discuss appointments to nine county boards and commissions. They’ll vote on the appointments at their May 19 meeting, and if the consensus reached at caucus holds, it will result in turnover on the county’s historic district commission.
And a dearth of applications for the workforce development board prompted a discussion of the importance of that group, which helps oversee the county’s Employment Training and Community Services (ETCS) department. Among other things, ETCS is handling roughly $4 million in stimulus funds to weatherize local homes, and commissioner Ken Schwartz raised concerns over the effectiveness of that effort.
Ann Arbor Park Advisory Commission (Feb. 23, 2010): Approval of new policies for gifts, sponsorships and naming opportunities in the parks system was the only vote taken at Tuesday’s PAC meeting.
But commissioners heard updates on a range of issues, from capital projects – including the months-long closing of West Park, starting in March – to a report on the greenbelt program.
And though snow has blanketed the area, work is underway to prep for controlled burns throughout the city’s parks and natural areas. Commissioners got a report on that effort, which includes a public meeting on March 2 and volunteer training the following day. The topic also provided some fodder for puns – in introducing the presentation, PAC chair Scott Rosencrans joked that they’d be “burning with interest” to hear the report.
Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education meeting (Jan. 20, 2010): Wednesday’s meeting of the AAPS board of education was a study in contrasts.
On one hand, it was an evening of accolades and celebrations. The board heard recommendations to pay tribute to the work of two longtime AAPS staff members by naming facilities in their honor, community participation in budget planning was lauded, and the students from this year’s Hikone Exchange Program reported on their trip to Ann Arbor’s sister city of Hikone, Japan.
At the same time, concerns about possible privatization of custodial, maintenance, and transportation services dominated the meeting’s public commentary. And when the same presentation that was made to recent public budget forums was repeated for the board, looming school budget cuts again came to the fore. Requests for proposals (RFPs) for outsourcing that are a part of those cuts were also briefly discussed.