The University Record, October 11, 1999

Click here for U earned 13.4 percent on investment for fiscal year 1999.

Bollinger addresses Senate Assembly

By Jane R. Elgass

A superior return on investments, the status of activities in the life sciences and the likelihood of a major fund-raising effort were among the items highlighted by President Lee C. Bollinger in an address to Senate Assembly Oct. 4.

Speaking at the group’s first meeting of the year, Bollinger noted that earlier in the day Robert Kasdin had announced that the University is in the top quartile of 150 college and university portfolios tracked by Cambridge Associates.

The University’s investment portfolios earned 13.4 percent for the fiscal year ending June 30, said Kasdin, executive vice president and chief financial officer.

Life Sciences

In reporting on the life sciences, Bollinger said he has appointed an advisory committee that is assisting him in several areas—search for a director, design of laboratory buildings, expansion of academic programs, collaborative programs with Michigan State and Wayne State Universities, and campus discussions of human values issues related to the life sciences.

Several candidates for director have been identified and Bollinger hopes the search will be concluded by the end of the term, but more likely by the end of the year.

The state will be receiving $50 million annually for 20 years from the tobacco settlement. A portion of that will go to the U-M, Michigan State and Wayne State. Another portion will be allocated by open competition, and a third portion will fund technology transfer projects. The privately funded Van Andel Institute also will participate in what has been dubbed the “life sciences corridor.”

Designs are being drawn up for several buildings, slated for the open area behind the Fletcher Street parking structure on the west side of Washtenaw Avenue. They include a 200,000-square-foot laboratory building that will enclose a courtyard and a “sliver” building that will house an auditorium and classrooms. Eventually there also may be two laboratory facilities on the north side of the Washtenaw/Huron curve. These are being developed by the Health System.

Bollinger noted that the design of the life sciences buildings “is incredibly important,” especially because of the interconnections between the Medical Campus and Central Campus that the project will provide and foster.

The University is not waiting until the Institute is up and running to initiate new life sciences programs. Included in current undertakings is the development of new undergraduate courses, funded by the Office of the Provost at $1 million per year for three years, and a lecture series that will bring four speakers to campus through June 2000. The series is sponsored by the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies and the Medical School.

Bollinger has asked Richard Lempert, a member of the advisory committee, the Francis A. Allen Collegiate Professor of Law and professor of sociology, to spearhead efforts to draw the campus community into discussions of human values issues that will be raised by the Life Sciences Initiative.

“We need to break down the two-culture problem,” the president said. “It is incredibly important that we do this,” he added, citing copyright protection, and life and health insurance as examples of topics outside the life sciences that affect and are affected by the life sciences.

He also suggested that cultural theorists likely will be interested in joining the discussion to ponder such questions as “Why are we so excited about the life sciences? How did the interest in life sciences come about?”

Campus planning

General campus planning activities continue under the leadership of Venturi Scott Brown Associates, with life sciences facilities a major focus.

Bollinger also hopes to see some sort of linkage with North Campus, “still a major concern of mine.”

He also cited the $87 million in renovations that have been approved for the LS&A building, Angell and Mason Halls and the Perry Building.

Fund raising

The president wants to see the momentum generated by the recently completed Campaign for Michigan continue and indicated the University is heading for a major fund-raising effort. “It’s imperative that we keep going, that we take advantage of [individuals’] desire to support the University,” he explained.

He is working with an advisory committee in this arena also, and noted that prior to the launch of any formal effort the University must “think carefully of what we want to be as an institution.”

He said the future fund-raising effort will include major Universitywide projects, such as increased faculty support, particularly in LS&A, as well as unit-identified projects, a departure from recent campaigns.

“There is a great differential between the wealth of major private universities and great public universities,” Bollinger noted and this primarily is due to the massive endowments—and recent high returns in the stock market—that support the leading private schools.

While the University may be losing some faculty because of inadequate salaries, he would like to focus on faculty support in general, which might include lab facilities or clerical support.

“We don’t have oceans and mountains,” Bollinger said, “but we do have an academic environment in which many prefer to work. We should strive for a world in which no one would leave because they have better resources and a better environment at another place. At the end of the day, people value the environment more than mountains. We need to attend to that.”

The University also needs to “look at the identity of its undergraduate programs, from admissions through graduation,” the president said. “We have created a better environment in the past 10 years, but more needs to be done,” citing as an example the relationship between the development of new curriculum and recruitment of top scholars.

The life sciences may offer opportunities for exploration in this area, he noted.

He also cited the increase in living-learning opportunities that have been made possible through efforts of the Office of the Provost and the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs.

Other topics for discussion that he raised include whether additional on-campus housing should be provided for upper-class students and a study of the ratio of in-state and out-of-state students.

“What the University needs to determine,” he said, “is what will give us the most vital educational environment we can achieve.”