Statement at May 2023 Board of Regents

(As prepared for delivery)

I’d like to begin by joining with the family and friends of Sam Zell in mourning his passing. 

Sam was a self-made entrepreneur who created what he described as a “meritocracy with a moral compass”; a man of contagious wit and a deep sense of civic responsibility. 

He was an alumnus and one of our most generous philanthropists, supporting many different areas of the university, including the Samuel Zell and Robert H. Lurie Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies.

Sam will be deeply missed. But his brilliance, generosity and loyalty will continue to shine brightly across the University of Michigan.  

I’d like to thank Chancellor Grasso and his team for being such fantastic hosts. 

It’s such a pleasure to be here at U-M Dearborn, and I’d like to thank all of you for coming.  

I’m so grateful the Board extended Chancellor Grasso’s term to another five years this past February. 

He’s earned the opportunity: Since 2018, graduation rates here have increased, research funding has grown exponentially and we are seeing record-breaking numbers of international students. 

Today U-M Dearborn has more than 8,000 students from 78 birth countries attending its four colleges, and I’m incredibly optimistic about our future possibilities. 

Chancellor Grasso, this campus and community has been inspired by your leadership, and we look forward to partnering with you in your future successes.

It’s essential that we continue to build together and grow together as a university.  

In that regard, I’d like to welcome Richie Hunter to the table. She formally became part of the U-M family on Monday, and this is her first meeting with us as Vice President for Communications. 

In her stead, Rick Fitzgerald has done an outstanding job as Interim Vice President for Communications. Rick, thank you for your steadfast service. 

In addition, I would like to congratulate Tom Braun and Damani Partridge, our newly elected chair and vice chair of the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs. 

We’re looking forward to joining with them in leadership in service to our university community. 

In addition to our recent commencement – and I’d like to acknowledge all of you who joined us – we’ve had a number of other notable developments since we met in March, including: 

Last week, we had a fantastic Pan Asia Alumni Reunion in Singapore. U-M is a proudly international university. 

It’s an essential part of our heritage – our identity and our DNA – and I’m convinced that with our many enthusiastic alumni, we have an outstanding opportunity to strengthen our profile and increase our impact in Asia. 

Our strategic visioning process is well underway, and we are continuing to gather input from our campus and community, including two town halls at the end of this month. 

We also formally launched our Campus Plan 2050 project, which will ensure that our physical campus develops to provide the living, learning and working environments necessary to fulfill our strategic vision. 

A few weeks ago, we finalized an agreement with the State of Michigan to provide $130 million in funding for an Electric Vehicle Center. The Center will be focused on the future of electric vehicle technology and workforce development, and will be critical to solidifying our state – and our nation – as a leader in the industry. 

Our Institute for Clinical and Health Research received a seven year, $71 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to improve the process of translational health so we move more treatments to more patients more quickly. 

Seven members of our faculty were named to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences for their leadership and excellence across academia, the arts, industry, research and public policy, and two others were elected to the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest distinctions for a scientist or engineer in the United States.

We have a brilliant, innovative, world-class faculty, and I’m so pleased that we’ll be saluting many of their promotions during today’s meeting. 

The members of our faculty and staff lead with excellence, and they truly make us who we are as the leaders and best.