Statement at March 2022 Board of Regents

(As prepared for delivery)

We have a very full agenda today. I want to begin with news about our continuing efforts to address sexual misconduct on campus.

As announced earlier today, we are creating a Coordinated Community Response Team that will provide input and advice on our future policies, procedures, and prevention efforts that relate to sexual and gender-based misconduct.

We see this as another important step toward our vision of becoming a national leader in protecting our community from inappropriate behavior and sexual misconduct.

I want to reinforce that we will own our mistakes, learn from them, and share those lessons with all of higher education. We know that many eyes are on Michigan, and I want our university to be at the forefront of making college campuses safer, welcoming, and responsive.

University presidents have the job of looking ahead, often by decades, as we position our institutions for society’s needs. I regularly say Michigan focuses on the future, and our teaching, research, and health care demonstrate that every day.

Yet our momentum and accomplishments will matter little if we do not care for our planet.

We must dramatically reduce our carbon footprint. There is no alternative: We must and will become carbon neutral.

Ten months ago, the University committed to achieving carbon neutrality across our three campuses. It is at the heart of all we do, in the lab, on campus, and in partnership with communities near and far.

It informs how we build and power our buildings, light our campuses, deploy our buses, pursue research, and make investments to fund such work. Equally important is how we give our students, staff, and faculty the knowledge and tools to bring sustainable and just practices into the world.

I’m pleased to share several significant announcements that build on our commitment, and Geoff Chatas will expand upon them in a moment.

We will soon be purchasing 100 percent of our electricity from renewable energy sources. We are planning geothermal exchange systems for our buildings, purchasing electric buses, and fitting more than 70 buildings across all three campuses with LED lighting.

More than being exciting, these climate action efforts are critically important to our collective future.

Many, many people across campus are working to take decisive actions toward meeting our commitments and goals.

I’d like to recognize two of these leaders: Drew Horning and Lydia Whitbeck. Drew served as administrative director of the President’s Commission on Carbon Neutrality and is special advisor to the president for our carbon neutrality strategy. Lydia is the project manager for this comprehensive strategy.

The Commission on Carbon Neutrality report serves as our roadmap, and I know Drew and Lydia are driving forces behind this work. Because of their commitment, and the actions of so many others on all of our campuses, I am confident that the University of Michigan will continue to take meaningful steps toward climate action.

Today marks a critical moment of transition for our community. With your approval, Dr. Laurie McCauley will become provost and executive vice president for academic affairs beginning in mid-May.

As you know, Dr. McCauley is dean of the School of Dentistry, a proven academic leader, and a respected administrator.

Her expertise and experience will provide critical leadership and stability as a new president comes on board. She is with us today, and I want to thank her for her willingness to assume this vital role.

Dr. McCauley’s appointment also means we are preparing to say goodbye to Provost Susan Collins. Today is her final Board of Regents’ meeting, and it is bittersweet for all of us.

She is concluding her very distinguished tenure at Michigan to become president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

Susan, thank you for your leadership, integrity, and wise counsel, both as dean of the Ford School of Public Policy and as provost. Personally, you have been a tremendous source of support in my return as president, and I am very grateful.