Statement at July 2023 Board of Regents

(As prepared for delivery)

In the light of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on affirmative action, I’d like to begin by reiterating our strong commitment to fostering a diverse educational environment for our students and scholars, which is essential to our core mission of academic excellence.

At U-M, as all of you know, we are convinced that racial diversity is one of the important components of a broadly diverse student body and an intellectually and culturally rich campus community.

In that regard, last month we agreed to invest nearly $80 million with the National Institutes of Health to enhance equity and inclusion across the health sciences community. Specifically, that funding will go toward the launch of the Michigan Program for Advancing Cultural Transformation, and to the recruitment of 30 new tenure-track faculty members to the Ann Arbor campus with a demonstrated commitment to equity and inclusion.

Last week we outlined our next steps in the Inclusive History Project, work which will commence this fall and continue for the next five years. Through this multifaceted project, we hope to document and better understand our history with respect to diversity, equity and inclusion. 

Moving forward, I’d like to offer my most sincere thanks to Paul Brown, our outgoing Chair.

Paul has been deeply involved in so many aspects of our work since I arrived – our vision and strategic direction, our presidential introduction events, and of course, his many kindnesses to me as the new President of this university. He has been a leader, a mentor, a friend and a guide.

So Paul, thank you for your service – to the university, to our community, and to the public good.

I would also like to congratulate our new Chair, Sarah Hubbard. Sarah, I’m so grateful for the opportunities we’ve already had to work together, and I look forward to our further service together in your upcoming term.

Regent White, I’m also eager to continue to work with you as our new Vice Chair.

As we anticipate the new academic year, I’d like to acknowledge Governor Whitmer and members of the Michigan Legislature for passing a budget that provides a significant increase (5%) in support for universities across the state, including our Ann Arbor, Flint and Dearborn campuses.

We also appreciate the opportunity to work with the Governor’s newly-established department of Lifelong Education, Achievement and Potential, opening the way to a future of education, opportunity and prosperity.

Just yesterday, our Office of Research put out a video on economic impact driven by the University of Michigan. It highlights our leadership in this area, that over the past five years, our research has led to 2,540 new inventions and 117 new startups, many of which are based in southeast Michigan.

We are also making progress on two other key priorities.

I’m delighted to announce that Shana Weber is being recommended today as our first associate vice president for campus sustainability. 

She currently serves as the director of sustainability at Princeton University, and at U-M she will lead sustainability efforts on all three of our campuses, collaborating with an array of units across the university in pursuit of carbon neutrality and climate action.

I’m also pleased to note our progress on Vision 2034, of strengthening what makes U-M such a special place while deepening our impact and addressing the most pressing challenges of the day. To date we have held some 55 community events, gathered thousands of ideas, and engaged thousands of members of our students, faculty, alumni and staff.

Much more work is to be done, but I’m grateful to our team for the progress we’ve made and anticipate an update in the fall.

Coming to the conclusion, I would like to thank Hank Baier, our associate vice president for facilities and operations, who will be retiring in August after 31 years of service to U-M.

Without Hank’s leadership, we would not be sitting here in the renovated Ruthven Building today, nor would many of our other major infrastructure projects be standing, such as the Ford School or the Munger Graduate Residences. All of the beautiful new buildings and renovations that have transformed our campus over the past twenty years have happened on his watch.

So Hank, thank you. Finally, I would be remiss if I failed to congratulate Michael Woods, a 36-year old Michigan Wolverine who pulled off a major upset to win Stage 9 of the Tour de France last week.