Statement at March 2024 Board of Regents

(As prepared for delivery)

I’d like to begin by expressing my most sincere gratitude to Sally Churchill. This is her last meeting with us as U-M vice president and secretary, a position she has served in for nearly two decades.

Sally will soon transition to service as special advisor to the vice president and secretary, and we will always be grateful for her wisdom and insight, her relentless energy, and most of all, and her commitment and service to the university.

Thank you Sally.

I’m also pleased to announce that with formal regental approval today, Jon Kinsey, chief of staff in the president’s office, will don the mantle of vice president and secretary of the university.

As Jon does so, Jay Baer, the Chief of Staff in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, will become the chief of staff in the president’s office and a member of the university’s leadership team.

I would also be remiss if I failed to offer my heartfelt congratulations to Rebecca Cunningham, our Vice President for Research and Innovation, who has accepted an offer to join the other U of M – the University of Minnesota – as its 15th president.

Rebecca has left an indelible mark on our university, and I cannot thank her enough for her exceptional leadership and selfless service on our team.

Her last day with us in Ann Arbor will be March 31st.

We have also had several other notable updates and achievements since we last came together, so simply to highlight a few:

Appropriate for the chilly start to spring we experienced last week, U-M researchers recently announced they had identified the protein that enables mammals to sense cold.

Their work, published in Nature Neuroscience, fills in a lacuna in sensory biology, may better help us understand why we feel cold differently, and may even allow us to better treat patients who experience cold while dealing with diseases, such as cancer patients receiving chemotherapy.

Michigan Medicine’s Ann Arbor facility was recently ranked by Newsweek as the top facility in the state, and the third best nationally. Only two others surpassed us, the Mayo Clinic and the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

Our colleagues and friends at Michigan Medicine have also reduced the greenhouse gas emissions associated with inhaled anesthesia by almost 90%, ensuring patient safety while supporting universitywide carbon neutrality.

The reductions they achieved – more than 6,000 tons of carbon-dioxide equivalent, were equal to that of removing more than 1,300 gasoline-powered vehicles from the road for a full year.

Over at the Law Quad, University of Michigan students scored a 97.2% first time bar pass rate. That’s the highest in the country, and it placed them ahead of Harvard, Stanford, and even my alma mater, the University of Chicago.

Joining them in achievement, our Ross School of Business was named one of the top five business schools in the world for undergraduates by Poets&Quants.

Given all of these developments – and truly thanks to all of you – American Caldwell recently ranked the University of Michigan #6 in the world for visibility – U-M was also the top public U.S. university.

As we go into the spring – and the celebrations and moments and memories it will bring – I’d like us to remember who we are as a great public university, one fully committed to freedom of speech and diversity of thought, as well as to respect, integrity, and dignity.

Congressman Jack Bergman – a retired Lieutenant General of the Marine Corps –  highlighted the vital importance of civility at our Congressional Breakfast in D.C. earlier this month, the largest gathering in the event’s seven-decade history.

He cited a Commitment to Civility that he helped draft for his incoming freshman class, a bipartisan statement which reads in part:

“We are dedicated to showing proper respect to one another, and all others, encouraging productive dialogue, and modeling civility in our public and private actions. While we may vehemently disagree in matters of law and policy, we will strive at all times to maintain collegiality and the honor of our office.”

Let us do so as well as a university.

We will look forward to seeing you at Spring Commencement, where Brad Meltzer, an American novelist and historian, will give our address.