UM Regents Get Donor, Sustainability Updates

Nurses union dispute provides backdrop to September meeting

University of Michigan board of regents meeting (Sept. 15, 2011): At a meeting where regents awarded UM president Mary Sue Coleman a 2.75% raise – adding $15,678 to her salary of $570,105 – the board also heard from members of the nurses union who are angry over proposed cuts to their benefits.

Michigan Nurses Association banner

Members of the Michigan Nurses Association union held banners during the Sept. 15 regents meeting, showing signatures from their supporters. (Photos by the writer.)

The Michigan Nurses Association, which represents about 4,000 UM nurses, is negotiating a new contract. Members brought large banners with signatures from their supporters, and three people spoke about the issue during public commentary – including Brit Satchwell, head of the Ann Arbor teachers union. The nurses are concerned that weaker benefits will affect patient care by hurting the UM health system’s ability to retain and recruit high-quality nurses.

Ora Pescovitz – UM’s executive vice president for medical affairs – read a statement to the board, asserting her respect for the nurses but saying the health system needs an agreement that’s market- and cost-competitive.

Also during the meeting, regents got an overview of UM’s annual development report for fiscal 2011, which ended June 30. The university received $273.14 million in contributions during the year, up from $254.08 million the previous year – an increase of 7.5%. The previous two years had shown declines from the $342.05 million raised in FY 2008, which marked the end of the multi-year $3.2 billion Michigan Difference fundraising campaign.

As part of that report, a couple who’ve given considerable financial support to UM – Bill and Dee Brehm – spoke to the regents about the motivation for their donations. They provide support for UM’s Brehm Center for Diabetes Research and Brehm Scholars program, among other initiatives.

Regents also heard from students and staff about work toward environmental sustainability on campus and in coursework. More is in the works: On Sept. 27, Coleman is scheduled to make an address to campus, expanding UM’s sustainability goals for both academics and operations. Her remarks will be shown via a webcast, starting at 11 a.m.

A range of action items during the meeting received little discussion and were all passed unanimously. They included several construction-related projects, the creation of two medical school departments, and authorization to buy a parcel at 716 Oakland Ave. in Ann Arbor, between Monroe and Hill streets near the law school campus. This is the fourth Ann Arbor property that UM has purchased within the past year with an apartment building on the lot.

President’s Raise

During the time for committee reports, regent Martin Taylor – who chairs the board’s personnel, compensation and governance committee – introduced a motion to award president Mary Sue Coleman a 2.75% raise, effective Aug. 1, 2011. Coleman’s salary before the raise was $570,105.

Taylor praised Coleman for her leadership, citing her role in the university’s economic development efforts. The Venture Accelerator program, a start-up incubator located in the North Campus Research Complex (NCRC), is 60% full, less than a year after opening, he noted. UM is in the top 10 universities for the number of spin-off companies created from technology developed there, with more than 90 firms founded since 2001. Research funding will top $1.3 billion by the end of this year, he said. And the university has created a masters degree in entrepreneurship.

Mary Sue Coleman

UM president Mary Sue Coleman.

Taylor also commended Coleman for expanding the university’s global reach, and for overseeing the largest capital building effort in the university’s history – with projects that are all on schedule on on budget, he noted. She has also led development of an environmentally sustainable campus, and pushes on all fronts for academic excellence.

Coleman is focused on the future, Taylor said, citing the “deep” renovations of several residence halls during her tenure. She’s also a leader on the national level, he said. She was named by U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to co-chair the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. She’s chair of the Internet2 board of trustees, and will be named chair next month of the Association of American Universities executive committee. Taylor also noted that Coleman joined president Barack Obama this summer in announcing his Advanced Manufacturing Partnership – UM is one of the partners.

Coleman “really puts the university in a place it wants to be,” he said, making it “the leaders and best.”

Taylor expressed regret that the regents weren’t proposing a higher increase, saying the raise amounts to a “whopping” $15,678. He said the board would like to award a higher amount, but must factor in the state’s economy.

Regents had awarded Coleman a 3% raise a year ago. Her compensation package also includes $75,000 in deferred compensation, a $100,000 retention bonus, $24,500 in retirement pay, and an additional $30,850 supplemental retirement payment. Her current contract goes through July 31, 2014.

Outcome: Regents voted unanimously to award a 2.75% raise to UM president Mary Sue Coleman.

After the vote, Coleman said she was deeply grateful. She praised her executives for their work, saying she was part of a team effort. She noted that she and her husband, Ken Coleman, recently received letters from students who’ve benefited from scholarships the Colemans funded to travel abroad. “I’m well-compensated,” she said, adding that she planned to donate her raise to fund scholarships for international travel. “This is the thrill of my life to be here,” Coleman said. She received a round of applause from the regents and staff.

Nurses Union Negotiations

There was no agenda item related to ongoing negotiations between UM administrators and the Michigan Nurses Association, which represents about 4,000 UM nurses. But with union members – wearing distinctive red T-shirts – packed into the audience, the issue provided a clear backdrop to the meeting. The previous contract expired June 30.

Ora Pescovitz

Ora Pescovitz, UM executive vice president for medical affairs, at the board table prior to the Sept. 15 regents meeting. Behind her is a banner held by supporters of the Michigan Nurses Association, which is negotiating with UM for a new contract.

During her report to the board, Ora Pescovitz – UM’s executive vice president for medical affairs – read a statement regarding the situation. She noted that the two groups had been negotiating since April, and that although they’d reached agreement on a variety of points, there remained some unresolved issues. The university needed to reach an agreement that is market- and cost-competitive, she said, allowing it to recruit and retain nurses of the highest caliber.

Pescovitz acknowledged that earlier in the week, the union had asked the Michigan Employee Relations Commission to conduct fact-finding for the two parties. She said the administration welcomes this process, and looks forward to a successful outcome. The university values and respects the nurses, she said.

Nurses Union: Public Commentary

There was no other discussion on the situation among executives or regents, but three people spoke in support of the nurses during public commentary at the end of the meeting.

Brit Satchwell – president of the Ann Arbor Education Association, the union representing about 1,200 teachers in the Ann Arbor Public Schools district – said he wasn’t there to talk about education. He went on to describe his mother, Clelia Steele, who was instrumental in the early push for Title IX legislation. She was compassionate yet formidable, he said, and not prone to fear – until she was diagnosed at age 79 with colon cancer.

Over the past year, she survived five major surgeries at the UM hospital. And while her doctor, Sandra Wong, was brilliant and helped save his mother’s life, “my mother will tell you that it was the many nurses who healed her that made all the difference.” Satchwell said he sympathized with the difficult choices that the administration needed to make as the state tries to pull out of recession, but he urged them to focus on the institution’s core priorities. “The nurses are the heart, soul and backbone of this great university’s health system, and you weaken that foundation at the system’s eventual peril.”

Keri Bokor told regents that she has a business management degree, but got into nursing because it’s her passion – she’s been working six years in the UM hospital’s surgical intensive care unit, and she’s proud of it every day. It’s difficult to become a nurse, she said, and to become a UM nurse requires a whole different level of skill and perseverance. She said she didn’t understand how administrators could expect concessions from the nurses while taking big raises themselves. [Pescovitz received a $21,000 raise for 2010-11, bringing her salary to $721,000. Doug Strong, CEO of the UM Hospitals and Health Centers, received a $53,637 raise for 2010-11 – his salary is $600,000.]

Bokor told regents that Washtenaw County sheriff Jerry Clayton took a pay cut when he asked his employees to do the same – that was honorable, she said. How can hospital administrators expect their staff to respect them when they fail to set an example? she asked. Bokor said that the situation is really about patient care. The administration risks too much if all they care about is the bottom line – high-quality, highly-specialized nurses could leave. She said there are 21 items that the administration wants to take away from nurses, and noted that the banners on display in the room show thousands of signatures in support of the nurses. “This is a game that hurts everyone,” Bokor concluded. “Please let’s not play it any longer.”

Julia Morrissey

Julia Morrissey, a UM nurse and member of the Michigan Nurses Association, holds her baby while speaking to the board of regents during public commentary.

At the conclusion of Bokor’s remarks, regent Denise Ilitch asked her for some examples of the 21 items she had alluded to. Bokor said she couldn’t recall all the details, but that issues included limiting overtime, asking nurses to cover more of their health insurance costs, and taking away other benefits that the union had bargained for over the past 30 years. In essence, they’d be taking a pay cut, she said. Bokor told the regents that many of the nurses she worked with lived in Toledo, but worked at UM because the benefits were attractive. If you take those benefits away, you’ll lose high-quality nurses who have options to go elsewhere, she said.

Another UM nurse, Julia Morrissey, told regents that all the nurses and other supporters who turned out to the meeting were there because they are serious. They understand that if the administration undercuts respect for the profession, nurses will leave. Negotiations aren’t moving, she said, and the health system is more interested in the bottom line than about the people who care for patients.

Patient care suffers if there aren’t sufficient staffing levels to respond to the patients’ needs, Morrissey said. She noted that the health system will be hiring nurses for its new C.S. Mott children’s hospital, yet won’t be able to retain current staff if benefits are cut. [UM is expected to hire another 500 health professionals for the new C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital and Von Voigtlander Women's Hospital, which opens in November.]

Morrissey said negotiations are a distraction to their work, requiring that they come to meetings and picket in front of the hospital. If administrators will stop caring only about money, then “4,000 angry nurses can calm down,” she said. Nurses have been asked to be world-class patient advocates, and that’s what they’re doing. As to why the health system’s administrators are behaving this way, she concluded, “we frankly can’t believe it.”

Nurses Union: Follow-up

In a phone interview with The Chronicle later in the week, Ann Kettering Sincox, a representative with the Michigan Nurses Association, clarified that the state fact-finder will look at the issues and make an objective analysis. However, it won’t be a binding decision, she said, and negotiations are ongoing. The next meeting between the union and administration is set for Sept. 21.

Safe patient care is an overriding issue, Sincox said. There’s concern that if benefits are weakened, the highly skilled nurses that currently work for UM will leave – those working in specialized areas like the children’s transplant unit. As one example, Sincox said nurses are being asked to pay 30% of their health care premiums. In some cases, that would double the amount that nurses are currently paying.

If less attractive benefits are put in place, it will be difficult to recruit new nurses with the same level of skill and experience, Sincox said, because skilled nurses “don’t come cheap.”

When asked about the possibility of a walk-out, Sincox said there’s nothing like that planned at this point, noting that it would require a vote of the union membership. However, she added, “it’s something that you can’t rule out completely.”

Annual Development Report

During Thursday’s meeting, Jerry May – UM’s vice president of development – presented highlights from the annual development report for FY 2011, which ended June 30. [.pdf file of FY 2011 development report]

The university received $273.14 million in contributions during the year, up from $254.08 million the previous year – an increase of 7.5%. The previous two years had shown declines from the $342.05 million raised in FY 2008, which marked the end of the multi-year $3.2 billion Michigan Difference fundraising campaign. Turmoil in the economy had also been a factor in the decline, May said.

Jerry May

Jerry May, right, UM's vice president of development, talks with provost Phil Hanlon prior to the start of the Sept. 15 regents meeting.

By unit, the top five totals in FY 2011 were received by (1) the medical school – $61.90 million; (2) college of engineering – $34.40 million; (3) athletics – $31.31 million; (4) college of literature, science & the arts (LSA) – $29.17 million; and (5) law school – $19.85 million.

May noted that UM has seen an increase in the number of individual donors giving $25,000 or less. In FY 2011, there were about 109,000 donors in that category, up from about $104,000 the previous year.

Gifts from corporations increased from $17 million to $19 million, and foundation support grew from $34 million to $46 million.

About $65 million for scholarships was available for distribution from the endowment in FY 2011. Coupled with $13 million in expendable gifts, there was $78 million distributed in scholarships during the year, helping over 11,200 students, May said.

Annual Development Report: Bill & Dee Brehm

As part of his presentation, May introduced two major donors to the university: Bill and Dee Brehm.

Before they spoke, May showed a video of Linda Saab, a graduate of Fordson High School in Dearborn who was the first Brehm Scholar. The Brehm Scholars program awards four-year full tuition scholarships to UM for students from Fordson, which Bill Brehm also attended, graduating in 1947. It’s one of several efforts at UM that are supported by the Brehms, who over the years have contributed a total of $52 million to the university.

Bill Brehm is founder of SRA International, a Fairfax, Va. firm that provides consulting and technology services to the national security, civil government and global health industries. He described how he returned to Fordson in 1997, and was impressed by the condition of the school and the quality of the students. He noted that he’d been the recipient of a regents scholarship to UM, and decided to give back by setting up a scholarship program for Fordson students. The Brehms later set up a program awarding four-year full tuition scholarships to UM medical school as well – Linda Saab received that scholarship, too.

The program has awarded 30 undergraduate scholarships so far, and three for medical school. All are given to students with three qualities, Brehm said: excellent academic scholarship, leadership, and community service.

Dee and Bill Brehm

Dee and Bill Brehm.

Dee Brehm explained the genesis of their support for the Brehm Center for Diabetes Research. She has suffered from Type I diabetes for 62 years. About 12 years ago, she was making dinner in the kitchen when Bill came in and asked how he could help, presumably with dinner prep. “I said, ‘You can find a cure!” she recalled. After pausing a few seconds, he told her he would. From that day on, she said, her husband has been focused on that cause.

In doing research about how best to support finding a cure, the Brehms had a meeting with Frances Collins, a former UM researcher who at the time was leading the Human Genome Project, and now is director of the National Institutes of Health. After they told him what they were hoping to do, Collins told them, “I think you should go to Michigan.” He then put his hands out and asked them to pray, Dee Brehm recalled – his prayer asked that they be guided to the best place for their goal of curing diabetes. Their dream is that the cure will come from Michigan, she said.

Bill Brehm also talked about the importance of outreach. He started the Brehm Coalition for that reason – it brings together nine leading researchers in the fields of immunology and beta-cell biology, which are critical to understanding diabetes and its potential cure. These researchers come from institutions that account for 95% of funding for diabetes research, yet until the coalition was formed in 2007, they’d never met in the same room. Now they say they’d never go back to the way it was, Brehm said. [The group includes Peter Arvan, director of the UM Comprehensive Diabetes Center.]

When asked by May to comment on their philosophy of philanthropy, Bill Brehm said they rarely respond to an ask. They strongly believe that dreams and ideas must come first, followed by funding. The development staff at Michigan doesn’t ask them for money, Dee Brehm said – the staff listens to what they want to do, comes back with some options, and only then is money discussed.

Regents thanked the Brehms for coming to the meeting and sharing their story. Andrea Fischer Newman, who’s been a regent since 1994, said the board hasn’t previously had a presentation like this one, and it really brought the university’s development efforts close to home. They often don’t hear this kind of personal story, she said.

Denise Ilitch, the board’s chair, told the Brehms they set a wonderful example, and that she had to hold back tears during their talk. The board and staff gave the Brehms a standing ovation.

Mary Sue Coleman told the Brehms they are a wonderful example of how individuals can change a paradigm.

Security on Campus

During her report to the board, Royster Harper – UM’s vice president for student affairs – addressed the issue of security on campus, in the wake of several sexual assaults this summer and more recently. The UM Dept. of Public Safety and the Ann Arbor police have increased their patrols in the late evening and early morning hours, she said, and there’s been good cooperation on that front.

Sue Scarnecchia, Royster Harper

Sue Scarnecchia, left, UM's general counsel, talks with Royster Harper, vice president of student affairs. In the background are supporters of the Michigan Nurses Association union.

Students have led the development of a pilot program focused on safety, she reported. Students are going door-to-door in neighborhoods around campus, helping do safety checks and encouraging residents to form neighborhood block clubs for additional security. Other plans include a focus on better lighting, cutting back shrubs, and creating Facebook pages specifically for student neighborhoods, Harper said.

She also noted that the university is increasing its capacity for late-night transportation, and reported that the Greek system is encouraging a buddy system for people who are out late at night. “We are working hard to reduce the risk,” Harper said.

Earlier in her presentation, Harper had praised the Michigan Student Assembly and other students for their efforts to pull off a successful tailgate at the Michigan-Notre Dame night game on Sept. 10, noting that the party drew about 8,000 people, and was safe and fun. Regent Larry Deitch responded by saying it was typical of Harper to give credit to everyone else. The great experience that students had was due in no small part to her leadership, he said. Harper received a round of applause from regents and staff.

Construction Projects

During the Sept. 15 meeting, regents were asked to authorize a range of construction-related projects. One request was for the athletics department to issue bids and award construction contracts for a $52 million renovation and expansion of Crisler Arena. The board had previously approved the project’s schematic design at its May 2011 meeting.

Construction at Crisler Arena

Construction workers at Crisler Arena were on the job Saturday as Michigan football fans held tailgate parties in the nearby parking lot.

The project is adding about 63,000 square feet of new construction. The renovation includes building new spectator entrances, retail spaces, ticketing areas and a private club space. In addition, roughly 54,000 square feet would be renovated to accommodate accessible seats, increase the number of restrooms and concession areas, and add other fan amenities. Construction is expected to be finished by the winter of 2014.

Regent Andy Richner asked whether winter commencement would be held at Crisler Arena this year – that’s the traditional venue for the ceremony. Mary Sue Coleman clarified that it would be held there, and that construction wouldn’t start until after the basketball season ends.

Outcome: Regents unanimously approved the request to issue bids and award construction contracts for work at Crisler Arena.

Several other building renovation projects were on the agenda for action:

  • A $47 million renovation for the 220,000-square-foot G.G. Brown Memorial Laboratories, which was built in 1958 on UM’s north campus and houses the Department of Mechanical Engineering. The project is part of the fiscal year 2011 capital outlay request to the state, which is expected to provide about $30 million in funding for the renovation. Two years ago, regents had signed off on a $56 million, 66,000-square-foot addition to building.
  • A $1.5 million upgrade to the electrical substation and related equipment at the Med Inn, which was built in 1953 and is part of the UM Health System. Renovation projects at UM campuses in Dearborn and Flint were also authorized at Thursday’s meeting.
  • A $1.148 million renovation of leased offices for the UM ophthalmology department at the River Place Offices building, 1974 N. Huron River Drive in Ypsilanti. The renovations will allow the department to consolidate its two current locations in Ypsilanti into one clinical site. The project is expected to be finished by the winter of 2012.

Outcome: Regents unanimously approved all renovation requests.

Golf Facility Naming

At Thursday’s meeting, regents were asked to authorize 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.

Outcome: Regents unanimously approved naming the golf practice facility the Weisfeld Family Golf Center.

Property Purchase

On the agenda was a request to approve the $730,000 purchase of 716 Oakland Ave. in Ann Arbor, between Monroe and Hill streets. The 0.14-acre parcel includes a 2,018-square-foot apartment building. The tentative closing date is set for Sept. 30.

According to a staff memo, the property is strategically located next to the Law School’s South Hall and Weill Hall, which houses the UM Ford School of Public Policy. The law school in particular is expanding in that area – South Hall just opened this fall, and the university has been talking with the city of Ann Arbor to secure the right-of-way for a block of Monroe street for part of its law school campus. [See Chronicle coverage: "Column: Ann Arbor's Monroe (Street) Doctrine"]

Within the past year, the university has purchased three other properties – all with apartment buildings. The previous three purchases were bought to accommodate the expansion of UM’s Institute for Social Research, on South Division.

Regarding the Oakland Avenue property, the staff memo indicates that the apartment building on the site holds no historical significance, but regent Andy Richner shared one bit of history: “I used to live there.”

Outcome: Regents unanimously authorized the purchase of 716 Oakland Ave.

Conflict-of-Interest Disclosures

Regents were asked to sign off on 14 items that required disclosure under the state’s Conflict of Interest statute. The law requires that regents vote on potential conflict-of-interest disclosures related to university staff, faculty or students. Often, the items involve technology licensing agreements or leases.

This month, the items related to the following businesses: Cornell Farms; Civionics Inc.; NeuroNexus Technologies Inc.; Inmatech Inc.; Vortex Hydro Energy; Rolith Inc.; Lean Therapeutics; Electric Field Solutions Inc.; Diapin Therapeutics; Arbor Research Collaborative for Health; Absolute Nano Inc.; and Michigan Critical Care Consultants Inc.

Outcome: Regents unanimously approved all 14 conflict-of-interest disclosures.

Medical School Departments Created

The creation of two new departments at the University of Michigan Medical School – for cardiac surgery, and computational medicine and bioinformatics (CMB) – was on the agenda for approval at the Sept. 15 meeting.

The CMB department will be established as of Jan. 2, 2012. It has existed as a center since 2005, with funding from the National Institutes of Health for research and a graduate training program. Becoming a department will help CBM recruit faculty and trainees, according to a staff memo.

Cardiac surgery is currently a section within the department of surgery. The section has grown to a size in terms of faculty, financial resources, and academic productivity that it warrants becoming a separate administrative unit, according to a staff memo.

Outcome: Regents unanimously approved the creation of the cardiac surgery department and computational medicine and bioinformatics (CMB) department.

Sustainability on Campus

Early in the meeting, regents received an update on environmental sustainability efforts at the Ann Arbor campus. Andy Berki, manager of UM’s office of campus sustainability, began by noting that he had a connection with one of the regents – he’d graduated from Pioneer High School with regent Kathy White.

Berki said he usually talked about operations, and he provided a handout with some environmental metrics for the FY 2011 fiscal year, as well as trend data from FY 2004 through FY 2011. But rather than focus on that, he said, three students were at the meeting to describe their work on sustainability.

Andy Berki, Sam Schiebold

Samantha Schiebold, a UM senior, spoke to regents about her work on a sustainability guide for students. Behind her is Andy Berki, manager of the UM office of campus sustainability.

Samantha Schiebold spoke first. A senior studying interdisciplinary physics, Schiebold had worked on a student guide called “How to Be a Green Wolverine,” which is distributed to each UM dorm room at the start of the academic year. The guide covers a range of topics, from how to conserve energy and water to how to throw a sustainable party. (“Use beeswax candles” is one of the suggestions.)

Not only did the project teach her teamwork and the ability to work as a consultant for a “client” – in this case, the university – but it also introduced her to the “mysterious inner workings of this university,” she said – a line that elicited laughter from the regents and staff. Schiebold said she was proud of the guide, and thankful that she could contribute to the effort.

Up next was Matt Friedrichs, a senior studying civil and environmental engineering. Although he’s involved in several projects – including the Kill-A-Watt competition – he focused his remarks on a sustainable neighborhoods course he took at UM. The course is offered through the Graham Environmental Sustainability Institute and the college of architecture & urban planning.

Students first studied urban planning theory, then spent two weeks at Wayne State University in Detroit, where they developed a master plan for the Delray neighborhood. Friedrichs said the area has been devastated – it’s disconnected from the rest of the city, polluted and desolate. The class suggested changes like redirecting truck routes, conducting an environmental survey of the area, and remediating structures into “green centers” that would connect through pathways to other parts of Detroit. The experience took students out of the bubble of the Ann Arbor campus, Friedrichs said, and let them deal with real-world political, social and environmental issues.

The final speaker was graduate student Jose Alfara, a co-founder of the student group Sustainability Without Borders. Last year, 10 students focused on projects in rural West Africa. They worked to implement “circular economies,” where everything serves as a resource for something else. For example, a toilet system was installed that creates biogas, which is used to fuel the school’s kitchen stove. The program is now starting to focus on training, Alfara said, so that people living in a community adopt sustainability as a way of life. “That community is starting in Ann Arbor,” he said, “and hopefully we’ll take it as far as we can.”

In wrapping up the presentations, Berki said that while the campus is growing in population and infrastructure, the university needs to be aware of its environmental footprint. How can they balance growth with being good stewards of the environment? Part of the effort includes linking academics with operations, he said, as well as supporting new ventures like Planet Blue. Success also requires continued strong support from the administration, he said.

Mary Sue Coleman noted that this is one of the times when students pushed for change, and it’s great to see students involved in addressing real problems on campus. [As an example, students spoke during public commentary at the regents March 2009 meeting, urging administrators to better coordinate UM's sustainability programs. There is also an active UM Student Sustainability Initiative.]

More changes are on the way. On Sept. 27, Coleman is scheduled to make an address to campus, expanding UM’s sustainability goals for both academics and operations. Her remarks can be seen via a webcast, starting at 11 a.m.

Misc. Public Commentary

In addition to commentary related to the UM nurses, three other speakers addressed a variety of topics.

Two dogs trained through the PAWS program

Two dogs, trained through the PAWS program, sat quietly during the Sept. 15 regents meeting.

Jane MacFarlane spoke to regents about PAWS with a Cause, a program that trains dogs for people with disabilities. [She and a colleague brought two dogs to the meeting, one of them sporting a maize-and-blue bandana.] She briefly described the program, and noted that even though UM doesn’t have a veterinary school, it was amazing to see how the community has embraced the PAWS program.

Joan Knoertzer, a retired Ann Arbor Public Schools teacher, described the building and collections at UM’s Clements Library, calling it the most beautiful library in the United States. The library is known for its holdings of American history and culture from the 15th through the 19th centuries. Knoertzer has served on the library’s advisory board for six years, and she thanked regents for their support. “We are on the academic map worldwide.”

Linda Martinson, a former UM nursing student, began by noting that she’s previously been barred from speaking at regents meetings because of several trespass warnings that have been issued against her, dating back to 2007. Those warnings are still in effect, she said, despite a recent change in the university’s trespass policy.

Martinson gave an update on her lawsuit against the university, saying “the university has argued that students do not have a property interest in their education, without which they are not entitled to constitutional due process.” [An update on the case is also included in the litigation report that's part of the board meeting packet, prepared by UM's general counsel.] The bulk of her remarks focused on details of the trespass warnings against her. She noted that she was able to address the regents at their 2010 meeting in Dearborn, saying she believes that’s “the reason General Counsel Suellyn Scarnecchia expanded the trespass policy to all three campuses, in order to keep victims of the policy from speaking at all regents’ meetings.” [.pdf file of Martinson's remarks to regents]

Present: Mary Sue Coleman (ex officio), Julia Darlow, Larry Deitch, Denise Ilitch, Andrea Fischer Newman, Andy Richner, Martin Taylor, Kathy White.

Absent: Olivia (Libby) Maynard.

Next board meeting: Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011 at 3 p.m. at the UM campus in Flint. [confirm date]

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  1. By Michael
    September 21, 2011 at 10:44 am | permalink

    Considering Ms. Coleman’s age, she likely will be needing the care of those deemed less worthy of compensation by the UM in the coming years. I can assure you she will see that her nearly one million in total compensation per year is way overpaid in relation to the person bringing compassionate relief to those unfortunate enough to need a hospital bed.

  2. September 21, 2011 at 11:14 am | permalink

    Yay for Mr. and Mrs. Brehm…they are wonderful! They also have scholarships over at EMU and it paid for my tuition for one of the years in which I was getting certified to teach the visually impaired. No offense to my own lovely parents, but I kinda wish they’d adopt me ;) They are seriously awesome, generous folks.

    And from one union person to another–go nurses!!!!!!

  3. By Ben
    September 23, 2011 at 1:57 pm | permalink

    Beeswax candles and drinking. What a great idea! Campus needs more fires.