Statement at December 2023 Board of Regents

(As prepared for delivery)

It’s a pleasure to be with all of you this afternoon, for our final meeting of 2023. 

We’ve had a fantastic year together. 

To be sure we have had our challenges. But we have also had a year of sustained growth and inspired achievement. 

To offer just one example, at our meeting in October, the Board approved construction of the University of Michigan Center for Innovation in Detroit, and I remain so grateful for their approval and their confidence in our team. 

Next week, we will break ground on this new $250M facility, which when complete will be a world-class research, education and entrepreneurship center, one that will empower the next generation of Detroiters to dream bigger dreams … and make their dreams into realities. 

We also recently hired Scott Shireman as UMCI’s inaugural director. He’s an experienced higher education administrator with deep expertise in global and online education. I’m so delighted to welcome him to our team, and I look forward with eager expectation to see what he will achieve. 

I’m also pleased to announce that as so many members of our community continue to grapple with the violence in the Middle East, we are announcing a new institute to combat antisemitism and advance religious inclusion. 

Our new University of Michigan Raoul Wallenberg Institute will be housed in the College of Literature, Science and the Arts, and be further developed with investments across the university. 

We look forward to sharing more details about the U-M Wallenberg Institute in the days to come, even as we continue our university-wide efforts to advance religious inclusion, education, research and scholarship. 

Today, we are bringing together leading U-M expertise and diverse perspectives toward a safer and more inclusive world, and even more, a brighter world of peace. 

On a different matter, at our September meeting, I promised to provide an update before the end of the semester on the proposed unarmed non-police emergency response initiative. 

We’ve benchmarked comparable programs at other higher education institutions, gathered an inventory of existing U-M services to support a collective crisis response, and identified a workgroup to address the best way forward. 

I am pleased with the limited actions to date and look forward to further progress in the new year. 

To start the new year, we’ll be cheering on our Wolverines in their quest for a National Championship, and I’d like to congratulate them again for not only winning a third consecutive Big Ten Championship, but for showing incredible character in the face of adversity this season. 

I’m also proud that U-M continues to be a leader among higher education institutions for students studying abroad. In 2021-2022 – the most recent academic year with complete data – we had more than 2,000 students studying abroad, which placed us in the top ten nationally. We are a proudly international school, and it is a vital part of our identity. 

Finally, I would like to welcome another individual – and possibly a family – that after an extended absence, has found a new home in our community. 

Last month, staff members at our Matthaei Botanical Gardens discovered that beavers were building a dam across Fleming Creek. This is the first time beavers have been in the area since the gardens were established more than a century ago, and we’re happy to welcome them, and so delighted they’ve joined our family. 

Thank you again for joining us today. As we go to the rest of our business for this meeting, I’d like to wish all of you a safe and happy holiday season, one that is full of light and memories.