Bloomberg reports on declining minority enrollment at the University of Michigan, following the state’s 2006 voter referendum that prohibited raced-based admissions policies. The report states that black student enrollment is down about 30% at UM’s undergraduate and law schools. The article quotes UM regent Mark Bernstein: “I don’t think anybody accepts the numbers. We are, as a campus, as a university, committed to diversity, and we’ll just have to soldier on using less-effective tools.” [Source]
At Ashley Mews, a wolverine head clutches a stray arm labeled “Akron” in its jaws. Arms labeled
EMU CMU and Notre Dame hang limply. Arms?? I thought today’s event called for two teams of 11 men on a side to contest a game of foot ball. [photo]
Skywriting oriented to be read facing west, visible from Liberty & First: GO BLUL. What does that mean?? [photo]
About 20 people in front of Landmark apartments, wearing neon yellow T-shirts and helping students move in. Forest Street parking structure is full. [photo]
All over downtown from State to Main: students, students, students. They are back!
Inside Higher Ed reports that Alice Walker, the author who recently was disinvited to speak at a University of Michigan event hosted by UM’s Center for the Education of Women, is now being invited back. The report cites an email from UM provost Martha Pollack, sent to faculty last week and posted on the CEW website: “Consistent with the university’s commitment to free speech, I am pleased to report that the CEW and the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies are joining together to extend an invitation to Ms. Walker to speak in a public forum on campus.” It is not clear whether Walker has accepted. [Source]
City streets on three sides of the University of Michigan football stadium will have traffic restrictions on game days in 2013. The Ann Arbor city council action authorizing street and lane closures came at its Aug. 8, 2013 meeting.
Vehicle access on the fourth side of Michigan Stadium, on university property, will also be restricted.
The street closures are new security measures. According to the staff memo accompanying the resolution, it’s …
A bike share program on the University of Michigan campus and in an area west of campus in downtown Ann Arbor will have the support of a $150,000 expenditure from the city’s Ann Arbor’s alternative transportation fund. The bike share initiative is also supported by the University of Michigan and the Ann Arbor-based Clean Energy Coalition (CEC).
The Ann Arbor city council’s meeting on Thursday – shifted from its usual Monday slot due to the Democratic primary elections held on Tuesday – marks the beginning of a transition. After serving 14 years on the city council, Marcia Higgins will represent Ward 4 for just seven more meetings, counting Thursday. Jack Eaton prevailed on Tuesday and will be the Ward 4 Democratic nominee on the Nov. 5 ballot. He is unopposed.
The council’s agenda for Thursday includes a relatively uncontroversial downtown development project. It’s also dominated by several items that relate to the way people move around inside the city. Some other agenda items relate to land outside the city.
Four different items appear on the council’s agenda related to developer Tom Fitzsimmons’ Kerrytown Place project – an 18-unit townhouse development proposed for the site of the former Greek Orthodox church on North Main Street. Nestled between Main Street on the west and Fourth Avenue on the east, the project is divided into two pieces – the Main Street frontage and Fourth Avenue frontage. Each piece of the project includes a rezoning request and a site plan proposal – and each of those constitutes an agenda item unto itself. The rezoning requested is from PUD (planned unit development) to D2 (downtown interface).
Three items relate to a piece of infrastructure closely associated with people walking as a way to get around town – sidewalks. Two resolutions involve the acceptance by the city of easements for sidewalks – one as part of a mid-block cut-through for The Varsity, a residential high-rise downtown, and the other in connection with a Safe Routes to School project near Clague Middle School on the city’s northwest side. Another sidewalk on the agenda with a school-related theme is a request for the council to approve a $10,000 design budget for about 160 feet of new sidewalk near King Elementary School, which would allow for a mid-block crosswalk to be moved to a four-way stop intersection.
More people might be able to get around the downtown and University of Michigan campus area by bicycle – if the council approves the use of $150,000 from the alternative transportation fund as requested on Thursday’s agenda. The money would provide the local match on a $600,000 federal grant obtained by the Clean Energy Coalition to establish a bike-sharing program through B-Cycle.
Getting around inside the city this fall will include the annual wrinkles due to University of Michigan move-in – and those traffic control measures are included in the council’s consent agenda. New this year will be additional traffic controls around Michigan Stadium on football game days – including the closure of Main Street between Pauline and Stadium Blvd. for a period starting three hours before kickoff until the end of the game. At its Thursday meeting, the council will be asked to give approval of the football game day traffic controls.
In matters outside the city, the council will be asked to authorize the receipt of $202,370 from the Federal Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program (FRPP) to help the city purchase of development rights on land in Lodi Township, southwest of the city. That federal grant comes in connection with the city’s greenbelt program. The council will also be asked to confirm the nomination of John Ramsburgh to the greenbelt advisory commission.
Also on the council’s agenda is the extension of a contract for the city’s part-time public art administrator through the end of the year – to handle projects in the works at locations the Kingsley rain garden, East Stadium bridges, and Argo Cascades.
Added to the agenda late, on Tuesday, is a resolution that calls upon the state legislature to repeal Michigan’s version of a “stand your ground” law as well as to repeal legislation that prevents local municipalities from regulating the sale, transfer, transportation, or possession of firearms and ammunition. The agenda item comes in response to public commentary after the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case was handed down in mid-July.
The Chronicle will be filing live updates from city council chambers during the meeting, published in this article “below the fold.” The meeting is scheduled to start at 7 p.m.
The Detroit Free Press is among the media outlets reporting that a University of Michigan medical student’s death is being investigated as a homicide. Paul DeWolf was found dead in the Phi Rho Sigma house on Wednesday morning, July 24. If you have information about the incident, contact the Ann Arbor police department’s tip line at 734-794-6939 or email@example.com, or call Crime Stoppers at 800-773-2587. [Source]
The Detroit News reports that a search committee has been appointed to help select the next University of Michigan president, following Mary Sue Coleman’s retirement next year. Members include the eight UM regents and seven professors: Alec Gallimore, David Ginsburg, Timothy R.B. Johnson, Jeffrey MacKie-Mason, Tiya Miles, Rebecca Scott, and Lynn Perry Wooten. The regents have hired the executive search firm Russell Reynolds Associates to help with the process, and a website with information about the search has been posted. [Source]
The University of Michigan board of regents will consider a proposal offering in-state tuition to undocumented students who meet certain qualifications, according to a report in the Detroit Free Press. If approved, the proposal would also offer in-state tuition to any member of the military currently serving or honorably discharged. [.pdf staff memo of proposed new qualifications for in-state tuition] The regents meet on Thursday, July 18 at 3 p.m. in the North Atrium of Building 18 at the North Campus Research Complex (former Pfizer complex). [Source]
The Detroit News reports on University of Michigan stem cell research that holds promise for people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The article quotes Eva Feldman, a UM professor and neurologist who’s leading a clinical trial using stem cells to treat patients: “I am extremely hopeful that we have found a way early in the course of the disease to make a true difference. Any treatment that can slow the progression of the disease is truly a home run for Lou Gehrig.” [Source]
In an op-ed piece published in the New York Times, former University of Michigan president Lee Bollinger weighs in on the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling on affirmative action. Bollinger writes: “As a law professor, and as the named defendant in the last two major affirmative action cases decided by the Supreme Court (in my capacity as president of the University of Michigan at the time), in 2003, I breathed a slight sigh of relief on Monday. But I worry that the new ruling will empower lower courts and, no doubt, litigants to challenge benign considerations of race — those that seek to advance legitimate goals of diversity in education — more easily than ever.” [Source]
The Detroit News reports on the University of Michigan’s decision to raise tuition by 1.1% for the 2013-14 academic year. It’s the lowest tuition increase in nearly 30 years. The increase was approved at the June 20 UM board of regents meeting, but was opposed by regents Andrea Fischer Newman and Denise Ilitch. The article quotes Ilitch, who has voted against tuition hikes in previous years: “The business model must change. The continuing raising of tuition is not sustainable. This is not a university problem. This is a national problem.” [Source]
Ann Arbor city council meeting (May 6, 2013 – May 13 session): In the session’s main business, the council voted 6-5 to approve a controversial 14-story residential project at 413 E. Huron. The vote came at around 9 p.m., about two hours into the session.
While there’d been some speculation earlier in the day that Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) would not be able to attend the May 13 session – which was a continuation of the meeting that began on May 6 – he was present for the meeting. And his support of the project was crucial in providing the six-vote majority it needed. Taylor was joined in the vote by mayor John Hieftje, Marcia Higgins (Ward 4), Margie Teall (Ward 4), Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5) and Sally Petersen (Ward 2).
A decision on the site plan for the project, which will offer more than 200 apartments with more than 500 bedrooms, had been previously postponed on April 15, 2013, April 1, 2013 and March 18, 2013. The council recessed its May 6 meeting at around 11:30 p.m. just as it reached the 413 E. Huron site plan. So when the meeting resumed on May 13, the site plan was first on the council’s agenda.
Councilmembers who voted against site plan approval for 413 E. Huron gave pointedly specific reasons for voting no – citing traffic safety issues or failure to comply with aspects of the East Huron character district, or other aspects of the city code. It was a clear contrast to the approach a previous council had taken nearly 40 years ago in 1975, when then-councilmember Bob Faber explained his vote to deny approval of a site plan this way: “Finally, I will vote against this and I will move that the attorney and the planning director tell us why we voted no because obviously we don’t know yet and see what he can do with that in the court …” That decision had led to a losing lawsuit.
It was fear of losing a lawsuit that councilmembers cited in voting to approve the 413 E. Huron project.
After voting on the 413 E. Huron project, the council finished off the substantial number of remaining items on its agenda.
The council gave initial approval to changes to the city’s public art ordinance. The proposal includes removing the requirement that 1% of all capital project budgets be set aside for public art. Drawing some discussion from councilmembers was an additional change to which they gave preliminary approval. The additional change allows the council the flexibility to return money to its fund of origin, which might be set aside for public art in the FY 2014 budget. The council takes up the ordinance changes for final approval on June 3.
Another ordinance change to which the council gave initial approval is a change to utility improvement charges for undeveloped property. That will also appear on the council’s June 3 agenda for final approval.
In addition to initial approval of changes to those two ordinances, the council gave initial approval to rezoning of two different parcels – a property at 490 Huron Parkway and on South State Street. The property on Huron Parkway is proposed to be rezoned from R3 (townhouse district) to R1B (single-family dwelling) and would allow the currently vacant 1.22-acre site, located north of Ruthven Park, to be divided into three separate lots.
The State Street Center project is located adjacent to a new Tim Hortons restaurant, which opened last year near the intersection of State and Ellsworth. The rezoning request is from O (office) to C3 (fringe commercial). It would make the actual zoning consistent with the city’s official zoning map, which had been mislabeled. The site plan calls for demolishing a vacant 840-square-foot house and building a one-story, 1,700-square-foot building with a drive-thru Jimmy John’s restaurant facing South State Street.
An expansion to the Theta Delta Chi house on State Street near the University of Michigan campus was given quick approval after first appearing on the April 15 agenda and getting bumped to the May 6 agenda, when the council postponed all remaining items due to the late hour. The council didn’t reach the Theta Delta Chi item until the May 13 session.
And the council gave approval to two items affecting the Ann Arbor fire department – one to accept a federal grant that will pay for exhaust fume removal systems at fire stations, and another to appropriate funds to replace protective gear worn by firefighters.
The University of Michigan appeared in connection with two different agenda items. One resolution authorized a contract for the city worth more than $600,000 in connection with a vehicle-to-vehicle study – for which the UM Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) won a $14 million federal grant. That won quick approval from the council.
The other item related to UM involved a right-of-way agreement for placing electrical conduit under Tappan Street – so that an emergency generator can serve a law school dorm. The resolution reflected a disagreement between the city and the university about whether the agreement was a transfer of land interest. The university insisted the council treat it as such a transfer, with an eight-vote majority requirement. The resolution received only seven votes, and thus failed.
Councilmembers passed two resolutions necessary to impose a special assessment on property owners along Miller Avenue, to help pay for construction of new sidewalks. And the council authorized a contract with Coca-Cola as the vendor for Ann Arbor’s city parks – but not without concern expressed by some councilmembers about the company’s human rights record and the nutritive value of soft drinks.
Receiving more discussion than they typically do were confirmations of mayoral appointments, in particular that of Eric Mahler to the board of the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority. Four councilmembers voted against Mahler, though that was still not enough to derail his appointment. Dissenters argued in part that it’s important to expand the total pool of people who are appointed to boards and commissions. Mahler has served two terms on the city planning commission. Dissenters also cited an alternate candidate, unnamed at the meeting, who was thought to be preferable to Mahler – because she would be able to represent the disability community better. The alternate candidate was LuAnne Bullington.
Ann Arbor city council action taken on May 13, 2013 at a meeting that had started on May 6 has failed to grant a right-of-way occupancy for the University of Michigan to install conduits in Tappan Street. The purpose of the conduits under Tappan Street is to connect a new emergency generator to the Lawyers Club buildings at 551 S. State Street. The Lawyers Club and the generator are located on opposite sides of the street.
The item was treated as if it required an 8-vote majority – that is, as if it conveyed an interest in land. But Marcia Higgins (Ward 4), Mike Anglin (Ward 5), and Sumi Kailasapathy (Ward 1) voted against it. Because Christopher Taylor (Ward 3) left …
University of Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman is the sixth-highest paid public university president in the U.S., according to a compensation study by The Chronicle of Higher Education. Coleman earned a total compensation of $918,783 during fiscal 2012. The New York Times reports on the study, noting that four public university presidents topped $1 million in total compensation. [Source]
James David Dickson, op-ed editor of The Detroit News, reflects on how a University of Michigan degree became more financially inaccessible during president Mary Sue Coleman’s tenure: “There are serious blemishes on Mary Sue Coleman’s record at Michigan. That she tried to eliminate racial disparities in access to higher education, disparities that were consciously created and studiously maintained in Metro Detroit for decades, is not one of them. That the University of Michigan has only become tougher to afford for the broke family of a smart kid during Coleman’s tenure is.” [Source]
A $110 million donation by Charles Munger will fund a 600-occupant, 8-story graduate student dorm and academic complex at the University of Michigan. The donation is the largest ever received by UM. The dorm will be located on the north side of East Madison Street between South Division and Thompson. As a point of reference, the area covers the location of the current Blimpy Burger building on the west. [Source]
University of Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman has announced her intent to retire in mid-July of 2014, when her current contract expires. She plans to keep a home in Ann Arbor. The news came during the April 18 meeting of the UM board of regents. [Detroit Free Press] [Detroit News] [University Record]
An April Fool’s Day transformation of The Cube at Regents Plaza – into an oversized Rubik’s Cube – is looking a little windblown. [photo]
The University of Michigan is exploring a possible public-private partnership to run the parking system for its Ann Arbor campus and the UM Health System. The University Record reports that UM has hired Greenhill & Co. to study possible options. [Source]
The Damn Arbor blog reports finding the diploma of a former Ann Arbor mayor while cleaning out the house of a grandparent. [Source]
The Michigan Daily provides an update and photos from the extensive flooding at North Quad, caused by a broken joint pipe in the building’s fire suppression system. The flooding affected student residences and classrooms – about 100 students were moved to other quarters. [Source]
The University of Michigan reports that five unions representing about 11,000 workers have ratified contracts, the longest ones running through June 30, 2018. The unions with new contracts are AFSCME, the Michigan Nurses Association, Graduate Employees’ Organization, Lecturers’ Employee Organization, and House Officers Association. The ratification has occurred prior to March 28, when the state’s right-to-work legislation takes effect. [Source]
An editorial in the Detroit News advocates for the University of Michigan to allow undocumented students who graduate from Michigan high schools to pay in-state tuition. “Michigan’s cause would be greatly assisted by legislation in Lansing. But because the state does not have the power to set tuition rates, universities also have autonomy to make the decision themselves. For a reinvented Michigan, it’s a no brainer.” [Source]
Reuters reports on how federal spending cuts under sequestration are affecting university research. The report quotes Steve Forrest, vice president of research at the University of Michigan: “There (are) going to be a lot of research jobs at risk. That will hit young researchers disproportionately hard.” [Source]
Helen Zell, a University of Michigan graduate and wife of real estate magnate Sam Zell, is donating $50 million to UM’s graduate creative writing program. The gift comes via the Zell Family Foundation, which Helen Zell leads as executive director. The two-year program is being renamed the Helen Zell Writers’ Program. [Associated Press report] [UM press release]
The University of Michigan Alumni Association posts a short YouTube video of snow scenes around the Ann Arbor campus, including a closeup of a snow-covered but undaunted squirrel. [Source]