Statement at June 2024 Board of Regents

(As prepared for delivery)

As we begin, I’d especially like to thank Sarah Hubbard, our outgoing chair.

In a year in which we have faced significant challenges, Sarah has been a committed leader, a steadfast supporter, and a passionate advocate for our university. During her tenure we broke ground on the U-M Center for Innovation in Detroit, we announced Innovate Michigan, a new partnership with the Detroit Regional Chamber designed to foster innovation, technological advancement and economic growth from Detroit to Ann Arbor, and we also won a national football championship.

Sarah, thank you again for all you have done, and I assure you that we will continue to aspire to be not just the University of Michigan, but the University for Michigan.

I’d also like to congratulate our incoming Chair Regent White, and Vice Chair Regent Bernstein who will begin their new roles on July 1.

And I’m pleased to announce that Jeffrey Veidlinger, our Joseph Brodsky Collegiate Professor of History and Judiac Studies, has been named as the inaugural director of the Raul Wallenberg Institute at the University of Michigan. Faculty and staff leaders from across the university have also been appointed to the new institute’s executive committee.

Since we will be discussing our budget today, it’s appropriate to begin by remembering who we are, and what we aspire to be – the defining public university, leveraging our excellence and interdisciplinarity to educate learners, advance society, and make groundbreaking discoveries that impact the greatest challenges facing humanity.

That’s our call from Vision 2034 which we announced earlier this spring. The vision was a lens through which we both viewed and shaped our budget, and it will focus our aspirations and achievements in the days to come.

In that same spirit of aspiration and excellence, I’m pleased to report that according to the 2024 edition of Center for World University Rankings – which ranked almost 21,000 institutions, the University of Michigan was 16th overall, 13th in the U.S. and 2nd among U.S. public universities.

Our Institute for Social Research also recently received the University of Michigan’s largest research grant – $195M in new federal funding from the National Institute on Aging to extend its enduring and influential Health and Retirement study through 2029.

In addition, a 2024 study by the Knight Foundation reported that U-M has one of the most diverse groups of asset managers of any university in the country.

About a third of the assets in the U-M endowment are managed by investment firms owned by women or minorities, generating substantial financial returns as well as improving opportunity among investment firms.

Together, we are continuing to increase our impact across the state and throughout the region.

At the Mackinac Policy Conference we announced Innovate Michigan, a new partnership with the Detroit Regional Chamber to foster innovation, technological advancement and economic growth from Ann Arbor to Detroit.

This will be a connective, collaborative effort through which we’ll be joining with industry leaders and business associations along with other institutions of higher education to transform our region into a national leader in technology and economic development.

We have also joined with Governor Gretchen Whitmer and other public and private sector partners in the MSTAR initiative, which aspires to make Michigan the world’s leader in semiconductor technology and talent development.

Governor Whitmer recently announced a $10M investment in MSTAR, which is now initiating a portfolio of innovation projects.

Through our Go Blue Guarantee, which our regents voted to expand at this meeting last year, we provided free tuition for 1,554 students for financial aid year 2024.

And with this budget, we are doubling down on our support of Go Blue Guarantee recipients by facilitating and funding high-impact learning experiences, which include study abroad and undergraduate research opportunities.

Last week, we were joined by four outstanding members of the Michigan community – Senator Debbie Stabenow, developer, visionary and philanthropist Stephen Ross, Dr. Earl Lewis and Coach Carol Hutchins – our inaugural awardees for the U-M Presidential Medal of Excellence. 

This award was created for exceptional individuals who epitomize our credo of the leaders and best, and even more, who exemplify our ethos of service, achievement and excellence. It will be an annual tradition in which we salute those who have made an indelible imprint on the mission, purposes and ideals of the University of Michigan.

Finally, I would like to extend our congratulations to Ann Appelhans Gubser. Ann is a U-M alum, a pediatric nurse, and a 55-year old grandmother who last month completed what can be considered the toughest marathon swim in the world, a 29.7 mile solo swim from San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge to the Farallon Islands.

The swim took her about 17 hours through what the LA Times described as “roiling, freezing, famously shark-infested waters.” Only a handful of people have completed that swim, and Amy was the first to complete it going from east to west, a more challenging direction due to the colder water near the islands.

Afterward she told a reporter, “I don’t think we all know what we’re capable of.”

So congratulations again Ann.

And each day let us aspire to follow your lead and unleash the incredible capability that beats in the heart of every Wolverine.

With that, let’s turn to the rest of our business for the meeting.