Three of the nine Indian Trails buses parked along Tappan and Monroe next to UM Ross School of Business, waiting to take MBA students to Detroit’s Eastern Market. [photo]
University of Michigan board of regents meeting (Jan. 19, 2012): The sixth floor of UM’s Ross School of Business was the venue for January’s meeting, where regents and executives dispatched the university’s business with an alacrity called for by president Mary Sue Coleman. There was no indication at the time that U.S. president Barack Obama would be speaking here later this month. News of his speech – to be delivered on Friday morning, Jan. 27 at UM’s Al Glick Fieldhouse – was announced on Monday.
Instead, regents dealt with less high-profile matters, approving a range of action items with little discussion. Those included funding for a major expansion of the UM Health System into Wayne County, along the I-275 corridor; renovations that will transform the entrance to Schembechler Hall and make a museum of football memorabilia more accessible to the public; and improvements to the university’s Northwood apartment complex on north campus.
But much of the meeting consisted of reports. Stephen Forrest, UM’s vice president for research, presented a sobering outlook for future research funding, calling the climate for federal funding “worrisome.” After his talk, regent Andrea Fischer Newman pointed out that tuition is helping to support the university’s $1.2 billion research program – about 25% of those research expenditures are covered internally.
Regents also heard from dean Alison Davis-Blake, who described how the business school is countering the caricature of managers that are only focused on short-term profits, and whose management skills consist of the ability to say, “You’re fired!” Graduates of Ross are taught to think more broadly, she said.
An item not on the agenda of the Jan. 19 meeting received considerable attention during public commentary. One student and three professors spoke against an effort to unionize graduate student research assistants (GSRAs).
Also during public commentary, the chair of the Sierra Club’s Huron Valley group raised concerns over the proposed Fuller Road Station, saying that the joint UM/city of Ann Arbor project runs counter to the university’s sustainability efforts. Fuller Road Station’s initial phase is a proposed parking structure, located near the UM medical campus, that could hold over 1,000 vehicles.
It was a telling moment. A group of graduate students from the University of Michigan had just finished making presentations to members of the Ann Arbor District Library board. They were part of a class on urban design taught by local developer Peter Allen.
Some of their class projects had focused on development of the Library Lot, and two teams were on hand to show their work to the board.
When they were done, Allen talked about why the student perspective was important – for the worldview they brought, and the insight they could give on how to make downtown Ann Arbor attractive for the 25 to 35-year-old professional.
The moment came when Prue Rosenthal, the board’s treasurer, asked this question: “How many of you plan to stay here?”
Silence – then some awkward laughter. None of the six students, it turns out, intend to stick around Ann Arbor after graduation.
That alone isn’t a big deal – it’s a small sample, after all. But it was striking when combined with the vision these students had for downtown development – a vision very different from what’s typically proposed for Ann Arbor, or from what actually gets built. But it’s a vision that, if realized, might compel these young professionals to make a life here.
Overnight from Monday to Tuesday at the new UM Ross School of Business building, plant and custodial staff, along with employees of Aramark, which provides food services in the building, implemented a disinfection protocol for norovirus.
As of early Tuesday afternoon, there were no cases of norovirus yet confirmed among the 20-30 people who had become ill over the past week since the newly constructed building first opened on Jan. 5. Further, according the Jennifer Nord, of UM Occupational Safety and Environmental Health (OSEH), the last date of onset for a new case of illness was on Jan. 10. People who have become sick have been requested to provide stool samples for analysis by the Michigan Department of Community Health in Lansing. As yet no samples have been provided for testing.
Nord and David Peters of OSEH, in a conference call (arranged by Pamela Koczman, manager in occupational safety and community health at UM), confirmed that the decision to act aggressively by starting the cleaning protocol last night was made based on: (i) the symptoms shown in cases reported, (ii) the quick spread, and (iii) the commonness of norovirus as the cause of such cases.
Kim Cameron projected an image on the screen and asked people what they saw. “Mars,” someone guessed. Someone else thought it was an aerial satellite photo, presumably of planet Earth.
It was a cow, Cameron revealed, at which point the group murmured a collective “Aaah!”
The cow’s head was defined by the lighter shadings in the image. “When you look at the light,” Cameron said, “everything changes.” It’s not the image that changes, it’s your perspective on it.
The exercise was an effective illustration of Cameron’s message: Being positive can yield enormous results, both physiologically and in your business.