The University Record, November 23, 1998

Provost highlights wins from budget increase

By Jane R. Elgass

Exciting things are happening in the schools and colleges as a result of increased funding targeted to specific areas identified as priorities last year by President Lee C. Bollinger and Provost Nancy Cantor.

Cantor provided a “sneak preview” of a few of the initiatives designed to help the University retain a faculty that “is no less than superb”; strengthen the institutions that partially form our “shared public culture,” including libraries and museums; and provide “the richest possible learning environment, one that goes beyond the four walls of a classroom."

Initiatives designed to enrich the learning environment, the provost noted, revolve around diversity of people and ideas, instructional technology and increased opportunities for collaborative activities.

Faculty salaries

Cantor reported that despite worries about a very competitive market, academic units were able to mount a 4 percent to 5 percent salary program, important in a concrete fashion for retention and recruitment, but also symbolically.

The salary increases, she noted, “are building trust on the part of faculty who believe we have a superb environment but find it hard to resist offers. If we can repeatedly mount a salary program, be proactive in retaining faculty, people will feel things are moving along.”

She also indicated that the establishment of both new positions and programs as a result of increased funding are seen as positive signals by the faculty.

Shared public culture

Among other activities in the libraries and a variety of related units, Cantor noted that major progress made in the Digital Library Project, widely viewed nationally as a cutting-edge project, has positioned the University as a “real player” in a field that is becoming an integral part of what libraries do.

The classroom

“A remarkable set of proposals” related to instructional technology has been received by LS&A administrators, including one that will see audio capabilities added to computers across campus and the addition and renovation of laboratories in the Modern Languages Building. More than 80 percent of LS&A students take language study at some point.

The Department of Mathematics has requested funding for computer hardware upgrades and additional staff to support group problem-solving activities via computers.

The College of Engineering used this year’s additional funding to leverage funds from Hewlett Packard for state-of-the-art equipment.

New funds in the School of Natural Resources and Environment are being used for teaching and computer lab equipment upgrades, including the joint Geographic Information System project with the Information Technology Division.

One of the most important activities of the University, Cantor noted, is its ability “to bring together a diverse set of students around a diverse set of intellectual topics.” The Diversity Theme Semester scheduled for winter term, co-sponsored by LS&A and Dialogues on Diversity, will feature more than 100 courses in LS&A and 13 other units relating to that topic. “This shows that the University means what it says about diversity,” she said, “that diversity is about people and ideas.”

Undergraduate curriculum changes are under way across campus, including the new Engineering 2000 program that includes redesign of a classroom to meet the specific needs of introductory courses.

Cantor’s office is working with the Office of Student Affairs to review opportunities to establish additional living/learning programs and learning communities.

Collaborations and new areas of research, application and outreach

“It is very important that faculty, undergraduate students and graduate students be able to mix and form communities through programmatic efforts,” the provost noted, highlighting several new activities:

• An environmental justice program in the School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE) and violence prevention program in the School of Social Work.

• Programs at the School of Dentistry that blend clinical dental education, health services to the underserved, partnerships with communities and research opportunities.

• A community design charrette in the College of Architecture and Urban Planning that will focus on a site in Detroit beset with both problems and opportunities.

• Continued expansion of the joint corporate and environmental management program of SNRE and the School of Business Administration.

• Establishment of a Center on Medication Use by the College of Pharmacy that will involve students, faculty and researchers throughout the Health System.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” Cantor said, “a look at what’s happening every day as a result of the increase in the budget.

“But what really makes this place so remarkable is that this incredible level of activity and superb work is happening routinely as part of the everyday life of faculty and students.”

Cantor noted that the University’s request to the state calls for a 5 percent ($16.2 million) increase in its appropriation “to help us continue these initiatives without, we hope, any pressure on tuition,” as well as special support for the development of learning communities ($2 million) and initiatives in the life sciences ($4 million).

The Regents approved the Ann Arbor request, which totals $22.2 million, as well as requests for increases from U-M-Dearborn ($4.348 million) and U-M-Flint ($2.55 million).

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