Statement at October 2023 Board of Regents

(As prepared for delivery)

Before we begin, I want to acknowledge that it has been a difficult two weeks for many in our community. We’ve watched in horror as the ongoing violence continues to unfold in the Middle East.

I’ve had hundreds of students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents and others reach out to me to express their concerns about the safety of our three campus communities and to share the collective impact of the recent violence.

Here in Flint, in Ann Arbor, and in Dearborn, campus safety is our highest priority.

On each campus, we are committed to creating a community where every student, faculty member, staff member or visitor can thrive without the fear of threats, intimidation or violence.

As a university community that is truly international in its makeup, we hope for peace and mourn the loss of lives in both Israel and Gaza.

I would also like to echo Nursing School Dean McCurren in expressing our brokenheartedness about the tragic loss of UM-Flint senior Gina Bryant. Gina was a caring and compassionate student with an extraordinary life of healing ahead of her. 

We join with all of you in expressing our deepest condolences to her family, her friends and all of those across the UM-Flint community. 

It’s a pleasure to be with all of today at our Flint campus. In fact, it was a year ago this week that I formally joined in my first regents’ meeting with all of you, here at UM-Flint.

We’ve had quite a year together, and I’m looking forward to many more to come. 

I’d like to begin by thanking Donna Fry for her outstanding leadership as interim chancellor. 

We have taken the first steps in the search for a new, permanent chancellor by soliciting input from across the UM-Flint community on recommendations for individuals to serve on the search advisory committee. 

We will continue to move forward as that committee convenes, with all needed deliberation, as well as all necessary speed. 

At our first meeting together in Flint, I announced my commitment to rebuild trust, and to better prevent issues of misconduct on campus, through the establishment of an independent Ethics, Integrity and Compliance Services office, led by a highly qualified Ethnics, Integrity and Compliance Officer. 

Today, I am pleased to report that we have found that leader. Michelle Casey has accepted our offer to serve as the University of Michigan’s inaugural Ethics, Integrity and Compliance Officer, and I could not imagine a better individual to serve. 

Michelle comes to us from Illinois, where she served as the Executive Director for the state’s Executive Ethics Commission, and where she is a well-respected leader, known for her strong ethical standards and high level of integrity. 

Michelle has served as an attorney for both the executive and legislative branches of government, and is an expert in financial disclosures, conflicts of interest and policy. 

She earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a Juris Doctor from the George Washington University of Law, and a Master of Laws in Taxation from the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law. 

While she will not officially start with us until January, she has joined us today. Michelle, would you please stand so we can welcome you to your new home at the University of Michigan? 

I’m also pleased to report that our campuses are continuing to grow, develop and thrive. 

Just last week we celebrated the groundbreaking for our new South Fifth Residential Development, which will address a great need for increased first-year student housing, as well as open a great opportunity for students to better connect across our campus and community. 

We’ll need that housing, for our Ann Arbor campus continues to grow. This fall, our total enrollment reached more than 52,000 students, including a record number of incoming students, making us one of the largest and most sought-after public research universities in the country. 

That class consists of more first-generation students and students from low-income backgrounds, as well as a greater number of students of color, which comprise 44% of this year’s incoming class. 

In that regard, we recently held our DEI Summit on our Ann Arbor campus, including the launch of DEI 2.0, and I’m excited to see how we will continue to work together and strive together for academic excellence and a broadly diverse learning community. 

This fall, UM-Dearborn also welcomed a record-breaking incoming class, with first-year enrollment the highest in its history. UM-Flint also saw an increase in total fall enrollment for the first time in nearly a decade. 

In addition, UM-Flint announced the formulation of a comprehensive ten-year campus plan, which will revolve around the changing nature of work and education, and its foundation will be built on inclusivity and collaboration. 

Last week (the 11th), the University of Michigan also reported a record $1.86B in research volume during fiscal year 2023 – an 8.1% increase from last year which led to critical advancements in areas ranging from microelectronics to global infectious disease to social justice to artificial intelligence. 

Thanks to all of you, I’m looking forward to even brighter days, and even greater accomplishments, to come. 

As I close, I’d like to thank all you again for hosting us at UM-Flint. We so appreciate all that you’re doing here, and we look forward to working with you and supporting you. 

Let’s now go into the rest of our business for the afternoon, and I’ll look forward to seeing you back on our Ann Arbor campus for our next regents’ meeting in December.