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Updated 10:00 AM October 31, 2007
 

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Faculty Senate asks for halt of Big House renovation

Members of the Senate Assembly want President Mary Sue Coleman and the Board of Regents to reconsider plans for a $226 million Michigan Stadium renovation, saying the project offered insufficient opportunity for faculty input.

The regents gave final approval to the stadium project in June, after several years of formal and informal feedback on the plan. Bids have been accepted on the project and construction is scheduled to begin in November.

A resolution seeking to reject the renovation plan followed the Oct. 22 presentation by Professor Emeritus Irwin Goldstein, who had collected 612 petition signatures from staff and faculty opposed to the project.

"The opportunity for public and faculty input has been limited at best," Goldstein said.

Of the 73-member Senate, 28 were at the meeting. The tally was 18 votes for the resolution and seven against, with three abstentions.

Cormac Maher, a Senate Assembly officer and an assistant professor in the Medical School, said the number of petition signatures is not statistically impressive when one considers the total number of faculty and staff at the University.

"This (the stadium renovation) is a very popular project. I think it is a well thought-out project," Maher said.

Renovations to Michigan Stadium have been planned to improve concessions, add restrooms, widen seats and aisles, improve access for the disabled, and add a new press box and enclosed seating. Two large structures on the east and west sides will include 83 club suites. Coleman and Athletic Director William Martin have said that the changes are designed to improve the game-day experience for all football fans.

Goldstein, a 30-year season ticket holder and former associate dean at the Medical School, said the project calls for the University to subsidize a debt he believes will drive up the cost of academic programs. The plan approved by regents calls for the cost to be funded through private donations and Athletic Department resources, primarily revenues generated by the new seating.

Keith Riles, professor of physics and a member of the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs, made the motion that called for the president and regents to postpone the project, pending further review.

"Nobody's saying don't go forward, but here's an opportunity to listen to faculty," said Richard Wolfe, associate professor of kinesiology.

For detailed information on the project and the planning process, visit www.umich.edu/stadium.

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