Statement at October 2022 Board of Regents

(As prepared for delivery)

Good afternoon and welcome to our October meeting of the Board of Regents.

I want to begin by saying how excited and honored I am to be chairing my first Board meeting and doing so at UM-Flint.

My first meeting with the Board was in July when I was appointed, and I will never forget that day. I again want to thank the regents for their confidence in me. Being president of the University of Michigan is a great privilege.

And while she is not here, I want to acknowledge President Emerita Mary Sue Coleman for her guidance and a smooth transition. I appreciate our conversations and her advice.

These first few weeks and months as president are so critical for me. I am very much in listening mode as I meet people on all our campuses. I have so much respect for our faculty, staff, and students that it would be a mistake to begin my presidency by announcing, “This is what I’m going to do.”

What I’m going to do, and my most important job right now, is to listen to the community. That includes everyone here at UM-Flint, where we are taking our first steps to transform the institution.

I’m aware of the hard work ahead of us. UM-Flint must reassert itself, academically and financially. I am grateful to Chancellor Deba Dutta for his leadership and to the faculty, staff, and students who are so committed to UM-Flint’s future.

We all want the Flint campus to thrive.

I’m particularly pleased that the chancellor is hosting office hours to hear from the community. This is in addition to the many meetings he has across the campus.

All of us play a role in the success of UM-Flint.

I will return to Flint next month, on Nov. 4, and I look forward to learning more about what makes this campus so special to many people.

Later in November, I am planning my first major address to the university community. While it’s early, I want to share my values as president and some initial priorities with everyone. And there will be plenty of time for discussion. I’m looking forward to it, so please mark your calendars for the morning of Nov. 17.

And on Dec. 9, I plan to visit the UM-Dearborn campus. I’m anticipating good conversations with Chancellor Grasso and the students, faculty, and staff there.

I want to take a moment to congratulate Vice President Ravi Pendse, who will be honored tomorrow with the 2022 Michigan Leadership ORBIE Award.

As our chief information officer, Dr. Pendse is being recognized by his CIO peers statewide for his excellence in technology leadership. Ravi, congratulations and thank you for everything you do for the University.

Before we turn to today’s agenda, I want the community to know I’ve heard the concerns about how we address compliance and prevent issues of misconduct on campus. This is incredibly important to me, and I know it’s important to the Board.

The University has made significant improvements in the last couple of years. This includes forming our Equity, Civil Rights, and Title IX Office, and an Ethics, Integrity and Compliance Committee. In addition, we’ve accelerated our anti-retaliation work and established the Coordinated Community Response Team. And we are deep into a campuswide Culture Journey to identify and reinforce our values as an institution.

I am extremely grateful for the work being carried out on all three campuses, as well as at Michigan Medicine, regarding ethics and compliance.

To continue our momentum and commitment to rebuilding trust, I want us to establish a central ethics, integrity, and compliance office. I have asked our leadership team to stand up an independent Ethics, Integrity, and Compliance Services Office, to be led by a highly qualified Ethics, Integrity, and Compliance Officer.

I see this new office as an opportunity to widen our focus on an institutional basis. I want it to support the many efforts already under way and the staff who do this important work every day.

Given the importance of rebuilding trust, I feel it’s important for the president to be personally engaged with this office. It will have a dual reporting line to the president and the vice president and general counsel. It also will have a dotted-line report to the Board of Regents and will regularly report to the board.

If a complaint involves the president or members of the President’s Office, that reporting will bypass the office and be reported to both the regents and the general counsel, independently and directly.

The office will examine trends, processes, areas of concern, and overall ethics, integrity, and compliance issues. It will not serve as a wide-ranging “court of appeals” to review decisions by ECRT; Human Resources; our deans, directors, and supervisors; and Academic HR; among others. Nor will it have investigatory powers.

I need to hear from the community about how best to structure this office. Over the next months, I will be listening to deans, executive officers, faculty, staff, and the broader University community to help inform my decisions. And I want to talk with those who engage in compliance work every day. I will then bring a detailed plan to the Board.

We’ve made important progress, and a central compliance office will be one more step toward keeping our community safe. All this work makes a positive difference.

Thank you again for your support and faith in me.