University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel told leaders from across Business and Finance that their work, and the work of their departments, is critical to supporting the university’s mission and allowing U-M to compete at the very highest level.
His comments were made during a question and answer session at the Business and Finance expanded forum meeting held February 12 at Palmer Commons. Schlissel has visited faculty, staff and students across the university community during his first seven months on campus. At the forum, the university’s 14th president fielded questions from moderators as well as participants that ranged from observations during his first nine months in office to the university’s ability to implement change.
Schlissel praised Business and Finance units for their work during a difficult period for public higher education.
“I have been pleasantly surprised by the good shape of the campus and the quality of our buildings,” Schlissel said, referencing the recent years of limited state appropriations and federal research funding. “We have also had strong financial management, which is essential to the cost of competing at the level we do and generating the resources necessary to invest in our future.”
Schlissel recognized the important role of Business and Finance departments in a wide range of university priorities, including IT and cyber security, diversity in our student body and workforce, and improving administrative processes to achieve efficiencies. He said he views the work as critical to the university’s mission.
“A staff member working in Facilities and Operations is helping the next leaders of our society or research that will fuel the economy for years to come,” Schlissel said.
Asked about the ability of a large institution like U-M to implement change, he said it is hard work but noted that there are many opportunities to increase efficiencies and attain cost savings while maintaining and respecting the independence of schools, colleges and units.
“The university may often be resistant to change, but how many business, financial or other entities have existed for two hundred years?” he said.
Before concluding, Schlissel recognized the service of interim Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Doug Strong and thanked him for stepping into the role during a time of leadership transition at the university.