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Updated 10:54 AM May 28, 2008




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Guidelines introduced for capital construction, renovation projects

The University will launch a new process to propose, review and approve large capital projects for General Fund units on the Ann Arbor campus beginning May 1. The capital projects process — part of U-M's multi-year Space Utilization Initiative — will apply to new construction and renovation projects.

"The capital projects process is part of a larger effort to explore how Ann Arbor campus facilities are used and to better plan and manage these resources to meet the University's academic and research missions," says Teresa Sullivan, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs.

Frances Mueller, project manager for the Space Utilization Initiative, worked with members of the Space Utilization Initiative Steering Committee, Capital Projects Committee, senior University administrators, as well as budget administrators and facilities managers in academic and administrative units to formalize and restructure the University's previous process for proposing and approving capital projects.

The new process provides structure and consistency in the steps to draft and submit a capital project request, including information required, evaluation criteria used by the Office of the Provost and the Capital Projects Committee, and what to expect after a request has been submitted. It will provide greater transparency for all members of the University community regarding request submissions and decision-making criteria, Mueller says.

Among the features of the new process is an annual Sept. 15 deadline for units to submit requests. Previously units submitted throughout the year.

"The submission deadline will allow the provost and Capital Projects Committee to review all requests at the same time and allocate resources based on University priorities," says Timothy Slottow, executive vice president and chief financial officer.

Slottow and Sullivan serve on the committee, which is comprised of executive officers and other senior University administrators who have primary responsibility and accountability for capital projects. Others on the committee include the vice president and secretary of the University, vice president for government relations, vice president for development, vice provost for academic and budgetary affairs, assistant vice president for development, associate vice president for finance, associate vice president for facilities and operations, University treasurer, and selected senior staff from architecture, engineering and construction, and the Office of the Provost.

Dennis Lopatin, senior associate dean and professor of dentistry at the School of Dentistry, and Robert Johnston, director of facilities and operations for LSA, are among the faculty and staff members who provided input and piloted the proposal process.

"The University will benefit from a more formalized submission and review process for major capital projects. To be good stewards of our financial resources — from tuition, state appropriations, gifts and endowment — it makes sense to use space more efficiently," Johnston says.

"Units considering big construction projects are asked to think first about reconfiguring or reusing space, which would reduce the life-cycle costs of buildings," says Johnston, who also notes LSA has developed its own internal capital proposal process for submitting renovation requests to the college.

For smaller schools and colleges that do not often have capital projects, U-M's new procedures offer a clear roadmap for how to approach building or renovating facilities.

"None of us do capital projects that often, so within a unit there may be little institutional memory of how it was done previously," Lopatin says. "Now we have a logical way to proceed, including a flow chart and names of people to contact."

While capital projects have been proposed and reviewed formally in the past, the new process and deadline allow the provost to look at needs, determine priorities and identify opportunities to share space or collaborate on certain projects across the institution, Mueller adds.

"Every new campus building doesn't need its own auditorium or gymnasium. The new process will help schools identify space that might be available nearby so units can do more sharing," Lopatin says.

"The U-M's new capital project proposal process provides a way for units to make their units' needs, desires and dreams known. It makes the whole process of how buildings are planned and built more transparent, which is good in this or any environment," Johnston says.

The new guidelines and supporting documents are available on the Space Utilization Initiative Web site at

For questions about the new process, guidelines or supporting documents, contact Mueller at 763-5942 or For more information on the Space Utilization Initiative, go to

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