A semester filled with change begins at U-M


The start of a new academic year brings with it new students, fresh perspectives and rewarding opportunities.

And while many things remain as they were at the end of 2021-22, University of Michigan faculty and staff will encounter plenty of change as they gather on campus to teach, lead and counsel during the 2022-23 academic year.

Among the biggest changes will be the arrival of a new president. Santa J. Ono will become U-M’s 15th president when he assumes the role Oct. 14. The Board of Regents unanimously approved his appointment in July. President Mary Sue Coleman will remain in the position until Ono assumes the presidential duties.

Ono will come to Ann Arbor after serving as president and vice chancellor of the University of British Columbia. His track record of leadership at universities in the United States and Canada includes prioritizing sustainability efforts, strong advocacy for mental health issues and an open communication style.

He has taught at Johns Hopkins University, Harvard University and University College London. While president of the University of Cincinnati, he also served as a professor of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

Ono will lead U-M from an office in the renovated Alexander G. Ruthven Building, along with other former occupants of the Fleming Administration Building who moved to Ruthven during the 2022 winter semester.

Earlier this month, the Fleming Building was demolished over a two-week period, and over time the space will be filled in and landscaped as open space while university officials consider future uses for the site.

Ono eventually will occupy the President’s Residence after it undergoes renovations to address essential accessibility upgrades and to enhance functionality, safety and security while preserving historical features. That work is expected to be completed in February 2023.

The following are some of the other changes faculty and staff might encounter as the fall semester ramps up.

COVID updates and resources

The Public Health Response team, part of U-M’s new public health structure focused on infection prevention, continues to monitor COVID-19 and the monkeypox virus. The U-M COVID-19 Vaccination Policy remains in place requiring all faculty, staff and students to complete their primary COVID-19 vaccination series and one booster, with limited exemptions.

Individuals should submit COVID-19 vaccination information through Vax Viewer, at vaxviewer.umich.edu. Effective Aug. 29, weekly testing is no longer required — though it is strongly encouraged — for members of the campus community who have an exemption from COVID-19 vaccination. Michigan Medicine employees should continue to follow the established protocols.

The U-M Face Covering Policy, which can be found online at myumi.ch/0Wp4Y, has not changed. In ongoing consultation with the Washtenaw County Health Department, the Public Health Response team will continue to monitor COVID-19 activity and may revise masking requirements as indicated.

A new website, U-M’s COVID-19 Response, launched Aug. 15 and includes information about the university’s vaccination requirement, how to get a COVID-19 test on campus and community expectations for using the university’s daily symptom checker, ResponsiBLUE. It can be accessed at healthresponse.umich.edu.

Temporary recreation facility

Construction of the Palmer Field Temporary Recreation Facility began over the summer. The enclosed fabric-and-steel structure is designed to provide students and Recreational Sports members access to recreation activities during the demolition of the Central Campus Recreational Building and subsequent construction of a new facility.

Features of the Palmer Field Temporary Recreation Facility will include strength equipment, cardio equipment, a multipurpose room and a small walking track. It is expected to open early in the winter semester before the current CCRB closes.

Sustainability initiatives

With the beginning of the 2022-23 academic year, U-M remains committed to achieving universitywide carbon neutrality, with an emphasis on fostering a shared culture of sustainability.

Priorities for the year ahead include expanding geo-exchange heating and cooling plans across the university, finalizing a selection process to procure 100% of U-M’s purchased electricity from renewable sources by 2025, and supporting energy conservation projects across campuses and units via a revolving energy fund.

U-M expects to publish a report tracking fiscal year 2022 climate action progress in the coming weeks. The university also shares its progress toward its various carbon neutrality commitments via an interactive dashboard at planetblue.umich.edu.

New Department of Robotics

The College of Engineering welcomes its first undergraduate students in the new Department of Robotics — a first among top 10 engineering schools. The new program will be housed in the 134,000-square-foot Ford Motor Company Robotics Building.

The Department of Robotics will be one of the resources leveraged by the new Michigan Electric Vehicle Center, support for which was included in the state budget approved in July. Other resources encapsulated by the center — whose focus is centered on the future of electric-vehicle technology and workforce development — include the Michigan Battery Lab, Mcity and the U-M Transportation Research Institute.

Michigan Medicine renovations

A couple of renovation projects at Michigan Medicine are slated to be finished this fall or in early 2023.

The first is a $7.4 million renovation to approximately 6,200 square feet in the Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardiovascular Center to create a Positron Emission Tomography/Computed Tomography room. The work will increase PET/CT capacity from two to three scanners.

The other is a $5.8 million renovation to Children’s Emergency Services on the second floor of C.S. Mott Children’s and Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospitals to expand clinical services in support of the increased demand for pediatric emergency care with the addition of 10 patient care rooms.

Meanwhile, construction continues on The Pavilion at University of Michigan Health, a $920 million, 690,000-gross-square-foot clinical inpatient tower on the Medical Campus that is expected to be completed in spring 2025.

Transition to Zoom Phone

U-M began upgrading its telephone service on all three academic campuses over the summer, and the work continues this fall to transition to Zoom Phone, a cloud-based softphone service that will operate via Zoom.

The transition to the new service, which is estimated to take about two years to complete, will allow users to make and receive calls with their U-M phone number over the internet using their computer, smartphone or voice-over-IP-enabled deskset.

New team targeting sexual misconduct

This fall will mark the creation of a Coordinated Community Response Team to broadly represent the university community in providing input and advice on future policies, procedures and prevention efforts related to sexual and gender-based misconduct.

About 30 representatives from across the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses will meet regularly and advise the university on a wide range of approaches to prevent and address misconduct. Leading experts across the country consider this approach to be a best practice for colleges and universities that seek to enact serious reforms.

The creation of the CCRT stemmed from a settlement approved by a federal judge in August between U-M and attorneys representing plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit.

Ginsberg Center to move temporarily

The Edward Ginsberg Center for Community Service and Learning will occupy space in the Michigan League — the League Underground, starting during winter break — while a new, 11,000-square-foot Edward and Rosalie Ginsberg Building is constructed on the site of the Madelon Pound House.

The new space will include engagement rooms, a resource library, student organization space, support and administration spaces. The center will be open in the Madelon Pound House during the fall semester, and the new building is expected to be completed in spring 2025.

Ann Zaniewski of Public Affairs and Adam Fisher of Sustainability Communications contributed to this report


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