The University Record, June 24, 1998

Regents visit west side of state

By Rebecca A. Doyle

Marvin Parnes & Sandra DanzigerFor the first time anyone could remember, the Regents met this month in Grand Rapids to conduct the regular business of the University and view the western portion of the state.

Sandra Danziger, associate professor of social work, and Paula Allen Meares, dean of the School of Social Work, told the Regents about two projects that focus on families who live in Michigan's western counties.

The first, which began in fall 1997, keeps tabs on families that receive public assistance and monitors the well-being of those families and identifies community impacts of federal and state welfare programs. The research results will be used to plan and improve human service delivery by local agencies.

The second examines how teen mothers are doing under the welfare reform measures enacted in 1996 that require minor-aged mothers to attend school and live in adult-supervised settings in order to receive financial assistance.

Both studies are based in Muskegon and are conducted with that city's Family Coordinating Council. Both also receive some funding from the National Institute for Mental Health.

Marvin Parnes, associate vice president for research, described for Regents and guests a project that is based in southwest Michigan. Planning for the Lake Michigan Partnership and the Grand Haven Aquatic Research and Education Center began last year, Parnes said, noting that the meeting in western Michigan seemed an ideal time to provide an update on activities.

Four partners--Grand Valley State University, the city of Grand Haven, the U-M and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory-- work together on research and education about the Great Lakes, particularly Lake Michigan. Parnes said the group will address such issues as habitat destruction, non-indigenous species invasion, pollution, contaminated sediments, fisheries, erosion and shipwrecks in the Great Lakes.

"People really don't understand the impact of how we change the habitat on land on the Great Lakes," he said.

Parnes also noted the Grand Haven Aquatic Research and Education Center in particular as being a facility that can coordinate research done on the Laurentian and the D.J. Angus, both docked in Grand Haven. The Laurentian is the U-M's research vessel and the Argus belongs to Grand Valley State University.

The Regents also visited the Gerald Ford Museum and the Public Museum of Grand Rapids, which is also known as the Van Andel Museum of Natural History. Meetings were held in the Public Museum, where the Regents were able to tour some of the city's history by viewing displays of antique furniture. Grand Rapids is well known for its fine furniture manufacturing in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Other agenda items included discussion of the student fee levied by the Michigan Student Assembly and that group's efforts to fund a campaign for a student Regent, a welcome from the Alumni Association of Grand Rapids and regular reports from the executive officers.