Statement at February 2023 Board of Regents

(As prepared for delivery)

I’d like to begin by offering our most profound sympathies to the loved ones of those who were wounded and lost on Monday night at Michigan State University. We’ve lowered the flags across our campuses to half-staff, and in coordination with the vigil on the Diag last night, we lit the Burton Tower in green and white. 

I attended the vigil, and it was clear that our community has such a deep sense of compassion, as well as a terrible feeling of anguish, for our friends and colleagues and family members in Lansing. So we must continue to do all we can to support one another at U-M, and our colleagues and friends at MSU, in this hour of grief and need. 

Would you please join me in a moment of silence? 


The safety and wellness of our community is, and will always remain, my highest priority as president.

We’ve had an extremely ambitious start to the year, and it’s hard to believe the inauguration is just three weeks away. 

To give a sense of the scope and scale of our achievements, here are just a few which we won’t be covering later today: 

We accepted an invitation to join the U+7 Alliance of World Universities, the fifth U.S. institution to join the alliance, which is dedicated working together to address the most pressing global issues of our time

The U-M Debate Program, one of the oldest in the United States, received a donation of $1 million, the largest gift in its history. 

And we announced a commitment of $20 million to accelerate transformative discovery and impact through the arts among our students, staff and faculty, and across our region and community. 

It’s also important that we acknowledge the signal increase in funding for higher education that Governor Whitmer proposed last week. More than an investment in the universities of Michigan, her proposal represents an investment in the people of Michigan, an investment made in the high confidence that our students will become engaged citizens, successful workers and outstanding leaders. 

At our gathering of regents in January, we had a number of thoughtful and truly insightful conversations about our strategic visioning process and the campus planning update that will move forward alongside the visioning works. 

Since then, we’ve taken several significant steps. Perhaps most importantly, we’ve charged Laurie McCauley, our Provost and Vice President for Executive Affairs, Geoff Chatas, our Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, and Marschall Runge, our Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs with leading this visioning effort. Geoff’s team will also lead the campus planning effort. 

I will also be directly involved. And we will continue to engage with all of you on the Board, even as we cast a wide net to ensure broad engagement and the wisdom of the community. 

I look forward to reporting to the Board on our progress, since that vision will reflect who we are, what we stand for, and what we will dare to become as a great public university. 

A great university also requires a great leadership team. 

In that regard, I want to highlight two of the many important personnel items on the agenda for today’s meeting. The extension of Provost Laurie McCauley’s service to a full term, and the reappointment of Chancellor Domenico Grasso to a second five-year term at Dearborn. 

Since my first day on campus, Provost McCauley has proven an indispensable partner. 

She’s launched initiatives on student success, faculty hiring and increased support of faculty and campus academic infrastructure. She’s provided critical support and insight in shaping new efforts and priorities. And most importantly, she’s brought staunch and inspired leadership to not only the Provost’s office, but to our entire university. 

Chancellor Grasso has done a fantastic job in his first term at Dearborn – he’s been an educator, an innovator, a leader. I’ve come to know him over the past several months and I so appreciate his dedication and steadfast service, his commitment to the students, staff and faculty at Dearborn, and his devotion to this university. 

I could not imagine better partners, and they will be integral to the achievements to which we all aspire. 

Those achievements will require infrastructure. 

At our meeting in December, we discussed our plan to lay the groundwork for the first housing we’ve built specifically for first-year students since 1963. 

We’ll be talking much more about it as part of our regular agenda, so I’ll simply note that I’m pleased with our progress, and I look forward to working together to address this palpable student need. 

Each of us was a student at one point. 

All of us are here together thanks to an educator – someone who saw something special in us, who taught us, who opened our eyes and who lifted our lives. 

An education is the greatest gift we can give. 

So I’m so pleased to share with all of you that, thanks to the incredible efforts of Dean Elizabeth Moje, we have received a historic gift for our School of Education. The Marsal family has made a commitment of $50 million – with their total giving to the school exceeding $55 million. And so with the board’s agreement, we will be renaming the school as the Marsal Family School of Education. 

Dean Moje is here with us today, so please join me in thanking her, not only for shepherding this historic gift through, but also for her inspirational and aspirational service at the School of Education. 

Dean Moje will lead the implementation of this great gift, which will: 

  • Buttress initiatives designed to prepare and support a diverse population of teachers, 
  • Build robust partnerships with schools and communities, and 
  • Conduct research in collaboration with education practitioners 

Even as we were the first American university to establish a chair exclusively devoted to education, the Marsal School of Education will ensure we remain a leader in building our future through education. 

I’m so excited about our next steps. 

We’ve made an accomplished start … and we have an ambitious year ahead. 

Thank you again.