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Updated 4:30 AM April 28, 2007




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Space Utilization Initiative gains momentum

With the appointment of a project manager and the recent launch of its Web site, the University Space Utilization Initiative is ready to begin exploring how space and facilities are used on the Ann Arbor campus, and is closer to its ultimate goal: To plan and use these physical resources to better meet the University's mission and needs.

Frances Mueller, former project senior manager of the International Center Improvement Project and interim director of the International Center, has been appointed project manager. She will lead the overall initiative and each of its projects, ensuring campus involvement throughout the process and keeping the initiative on track.

Projects include providing better space and utilities utilization data, reports and systems; a clearer process for capital projects planning; and improved institutional guidelines for using space more effectively.

The initiative was launched in July 2006 following recommendations resulting from a series of focus groups with faculty and staff designed to gain understanding of the issues and opportunities related to space utilization and costs. The new Space Utilization Initiative Web site,, will share information and resource materials with members of the campus community as the initiative moves forward.

Almost all members of the University community eventually will be involved in or affected by this multiyear, campuswide endeavor, predicts Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Teresa Sullivan.

"New technologies—from building management to information processing and communication—bring new opportunities," Sullivan says. "With increased interdisciplinary research and teaching taking place, and expanded use of new technology to augment the learning process, we must re-examine how our facilities, and the ways we use those facilities, serve our core mission."

Executive sponsors of the initiative are President Mary Sue Coleman, Provost Sullivan, Executive Vice President for Finance and Chief Financial Officer Timothy Slottow and Vice President for Research Stephen Forrest. The initiative is guided by the Space Utilization Initiative Steering Committee, which represents the interests of the broad campus community.

"We have much to learn about how space is used across campus," says Philip Hanlon, associate provost for academic and budgetary affairs, to whom Mueller reports. "Since last July, we have focused on creating the foundation for the initiative, including establishing the steering committee, raising campus awareness about the initiative and starting a few components where possible. With our project manager in place, we look forward to increased levels of activity to meet the initiative's objectives," Hanlon adds.

Since joining the University in 1995, Mueller's focus has been on the University community with roles that emphasized change management, project management, business process analysis and operations management. Her U-M career began at Information Technology Central Services and continued with the M-Pathways Project and Michigan Administrative Information Services, where she was assistant director of user services before managing the International Center Improvement Project and serving as the International Center's interim director. Previously, she worked in the information technology, automotive and distribution industries. Mueller earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Michigan Technological University and a Master of Business Administration from Wayne State University.

"Physical space is an incredibly valuable resource to nearly all organizations. This initiative provides an opportunity to better understand and manage our institutional space today and to leverage this valuable resource more effectively and creatively to meet the changing needs of the University in the future," Mueller says. "With roughly 29 million gross square feet of space, including 14 million which is General Fund space, we have one of the largest physical campuses in the country. We also have a complex and decentralized structure. The combination may make this initiative challenging at times and will require a thoughtful and collaborative process between our schools, colleges and central offices to be successful."

Mueller initially will focus her attention on improving space and utilities data, reports and systems, and on providing a more transparent capital projects process. To do this, she plans to gain a better understanding of campus needs for space and utilities information and will work closely with the steering committee and unit representatives.

"Providing campus with meaningful space utilization data is really the foundation of this initiative," Mueller says. "This information will enable deans, directors and others to understand what they have and help them decide how to use their space more effectively. The data also will guide us in making more informed decisions for our institution as whole." Other projects within the initiative will be started using a phased approach, based on priority and resources, over the next few years.

For more information go to

Campus community involvement

Members of the Space Utilization Initiative Steering Committee include Hank Baier, associate vice president for facilities and operations; Deborah Ball, dean of the School of Education, the William H. Payne Collegiate Professor of Education and Arthur F. Thurnau Professor; Steven Ceccio, associate vice president for research, professor of mechanical engineering and professor of naval architecture and marine engineering; Anthony Francis, associate dean for budget in LSA, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and professor of chemistry; Philip Hanlon, associate provost for academic and budgetary affairs, the Donald J. Lewis Professor of Mathematics and Arthur F. Thurnau Professor; David Munson, the Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering and professor of electrical engineering and computer science; Laura Patterson, associate vice president for administration information systems; Stephanie Riegle, senior project manager, Office of the Provost; Janet Weiss, dean of the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies and the Mary C. Bromage Collegiate Professor of Organizational Behavior and Public Policy; and James Woolliscroft, interim dean of the Medical School and the Lyle C. Roll Professor of Medicine.

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