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University of Michigan President describes ‘unfinished’ work for past 2 years

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ANN ARBOR, MI – The University of Michigan is “a university that matters,” President Mark Schlissel said Thursday morning before a crowded auditorium of UM leaders.

What does “important” mean for Schlissel? This means he has seen excellent results in various academic initiatives including COVID-19 prevention, environmental sustainability, research, and government collaboration.

The remarks were presented to approximately 100 people at the Robertson Auditorium at the Ross School of Business on October 7. Schlissel took the time to outline past successes, as well as priorities for the remainder of his term until June 2023.

The speech comes just two days after Schlissel announced he would step down as chairman in June 2023. He briefly touched on his plans to quit the post a year before his contract expired, saying he had taken the job. decision to “avoid uncertainty” and ensure a smooth transition for the next president.

“The best transitions happen at the right time and are thoughtful and deliberate,” he said. “I have discussed this with our regents and I think an announcement in a few years allows for a smooth transition.”

Prior to Schlissel’s speech, Board of Regents vice-chairman Paul Brown “congratulated” the chairman’s leadership, especially throughout the last year and a half of the COVID-19 pandemic. He and the other seven regents all signed Schlissel’s new contract at the end of September, which shortened his tenure by one year.

It includes salary benefits such as a $ 2 million lab and at least a full year of his current salary of $ 927,000 as a special academic advisor once he officially steps down.

Read more: $ 2 million lab, extra year of salary among benefits University of Michigan president gets after resigning

While Schlissel said it was too early to discuss his post-presidential plans, he hinted that he wanted to return to the classroom or the lab as a full biology teacher. Schlissel is a biologist and immunologist by training.

“If nothing more interesting comes up,” he said, “I’ll go back to doing what I did before. “

The bulk of Schlissel’s 45-minute speech praised various initiatives on the university’s campuses in Ann Arbor, Flint and Dearborn. He highlighted what the university sees as the successful return of face-to-face learning, noting that “our classrooms, venues and sports facilities are full of activity” thanks to the collective work of leaders, faculty, university staff and students.

COVID-19 cases on the Ann Arbor campus had fallen every week since the move in late August to a low of 77 cases by the week of September 19, according to the UM Database. The week of September 26 saw a slight increase to 83 cases. Positive test rates have been below 2% every week since August 8.

Read more: University of Michigan professors blow up COVID-19 distance learning rules

He also addressed specific praise to the leaders of UM and Michigan medicine who helped form COVID-19 councils on campus.

“As many of you know, there is a complex and ever-changing mix of federal, state and local public health guidelines that influence what we do on our campuses,” he said. “(These) team members keep abreast of these guidelines, as well as the most recent research. “

Another point of interest is university research. Schlissel said research activity on campus was up 3.4% from pre-pandemic levels in 2019. Research funded by federal grants is up 17%, he said , adding that UM ranks second among national universities for the creation of start-ups.

Schlissel credited Luke Shaefer, professor of public policy and social work, for his work in the UM Poverty Solutions program to address food insufficiency. Schaefer was cited in President Joe Biden’s anti-poverty plan, which expanded child tax credits to reduce food shortages.

Biden’s plan, according to US Census Bureau statistics cited by Schlissel, reduced food shortage by 30% for children and 43% for low-income households.

Schlissel also reaffirmed UM’s carbon neutrality plan, announcing that the university would hire a new director to continue this initiative. The goal is to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, he said.

Read more: University of Michigan carbon neutrality commission submits final recommendations for net zero emissions

“We seek to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from direct sources on campus, reduce emissions from purchased electricity to net zero, and set innovative targets for emissions from indirect sources such as travel. academics and the food supply, ”he said.

UM also announced that it has received a donation of $ 11 million to create the Tishman Scholarship Fund, which will seek environmentally sustainable options and find ways to disseminate those options to low-income and minority communities.

“Climate change and other environmental challenges affect us all, but they do not affect us all in the same way,” he said.

On diversity, equity and inclusion, Schlissel announced that UM will release a new census survey later this month to probe how DCI’s efforts are playing out on the Ann Arbor campus. .

Finally, he hinted that news on the search process for the next marshal would be announced “in the coming weeks.” Marshal Susan Collins will serve until June 2022 and told Schlissel she only intended to serve one two-year term.

Collins was officially appointed in July 2020 to replace former acting Provost Martin Philbert after Philbert left due to sexual harassment scandals.

Read more: University of Michigan Regents Appoint Susan M. Collins as Provost

Schlissel ended his remarks by pledging his last two years as president to the university’s “important work”.

“As long as challenges remain in our society, the work of the University of Michigan will remain unfinished,” he said.

Read more from The Ann Arbor News:

University of Michigan president resigns in 2023

University of Michigan president secures 3% raise despite late performance review

New policies would not have ended sexual harassment of former provost, says University of Michigan professor

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