Saying goodbye to outgoing trustees, more takeaways from board meeting
At the final Michigan State Board of Trustees meeting of the semester, the board approved multiple on-campus projects and said goodbye to Trustees Brian Breslin and Mitch Lyons, who will be replaced by recently elected Trustees Brianna Scott and Kelly Tebay at the January meeting.
The Friday meeting came two weeks after former Trustee George Perles resigned due to health issues. His replacement has yet to be appointed by Governor Rick Snyder.
Saying goodbye to Trustees Perles, Breslin and Lyons
The board offered their admiration and gratitude to Perles, who was elected to the board as a Democrat in 2006.
"I love the guy," Lyons said. "He gave me the opportunity to come here to Michigan State, for a kid that wouldn't have been able to afford college — he gave me that chance."
Many trustees individually thanked Lyons and Breslin — who both chose not to run for re-election — for their commitment to the university. They also read statements written on behalf of the entire board.
“In a challenging period in the life of Michigan State University, he is eager to hear community voices and to understand the student perspective,” Trustee Joel Ferguson said about Lyons.
Both Breslin and Lyons joined the MSU Board of Trustees as Republicans in 2011. Breslin is also the chair of the board.
"For his extraordinary leadership, his passion and commitment to his alma mater, and his tireless efforts on behalf of this university, the Michigan State University Board of Trustees offers its heartfelt thanks and sincere gratitude to Brian Breslin," a statement read by Trustee Melanie Foster said.
Updates to MSU's health care expansion
At the first meeting of the semester, the board authorized the formation of a new health organization called MSU Health Care. At Friday's meeting, the board delegated authority to the organization, which is comprised of MSU's colleges of Human Medicine, Osteopathic Medicine and Nursing.
MSU Health Care would enter into "a number of joint ventures with both private physician groups as well as area hospital partnerships," CEO of the MSU HealthTeam Michael Herbert said at a previous board meeting.
The board also authorized the university to enter into a Public Private Partnership for the continued development of the Grand Rapids Research Center site. This is the second phase of this project, and Interim President John Engler said it will allow for MSU to continue research efforts and health care expansion.
"What this phase two will allow is for us to create a facility that will innovate, that will think about health care in a different way," Assistant Vice President for Health Affairs Norman Beauchamp said. "Find ways to take care of people and provide better access, lower cost, better outcomes in a more compassionate way."
Beauchamp said the goal is to "redefine how health care is delivered" and make MSU a safer campus.
At the meeting, Engler also announced that a groundbreaking ceremony for the new McLaren hospital — being build adjacent to MSU — will be held on Monday.
Replacing the student information system
The board authorized the planning and replacement of MSU's student information system, which Engler said is long-overdue.
"It’s a mess and it’s been studied to death around here — three different studies over a five to seven year period," Engler said in an interview with The State News Editorial Board. "The whole university runs off that old mainframe system that’s basically failing, we need to get started on that right away. Should’ve been done yesterday."
Provost June Youatt said this new system would make degree planning and curriculum planning more convenient for students.
"This system, as we adopt and implement it, should make all of those functions easier," Youatt said.
Multiple projects approved
The board also authorized to proceed with many on-campus construction projects, such as renovating teaching and learning spaces in Wonders Hall and the fourth floor of the Hannah Administration Building.
"This has not been changed since 1968 and it's part of the process of getting ready for the new president," Engler said. "To get the space prepared."
They also moved forward with the authorization to eventually replace the water service in a handful of residence halls, and to install a reverse osmosis system at the T.B. Simon Power Plant.
The next Board of Trustees meeting will be held on Jan. 9.