University of Michigan

U of M GEO

The issue of whether or not certain University of Michigan graduate students can unionize is back in the news.

Two graduate students at the University of Michigan have filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in an effort to overturn a new state law that prohibits U of M graduate student research assistants, or GSRAs, from collective bargaining.

Public Act 45 effectively says GSRAs are primarily students, not public employees, and therefore don’t have the right to form a union.

Sam Montgomery is with the Graduate Employees Organization (GEO), a labor union at U of M. She says the law violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. constitution:

"It singles out this group of individuals and withholds them from a right that is granted to other public employees without giving a rational based in fact as to why they are not employees."

Last May, the U of M Board of Regents voted 6 to 2 to recognize the university's roughly 2,200 GSRAs as public employees with the right to vote to form a union.

The Michigan Employment Relations Commission found otherwise in a 1981 ruling. The Commission was in the middle of holding its own administrative hearing on the issue when Governor Snyder signed Public Act 45 into law.

user jdurham / morgueFile

Beginning this summer, the University of Michigan will offer a number of online classes that anyone from anywhere in the world can take…for free.

A professor from the U of M business school will teach a class on finance. Want to know about electronic voting in time for the November presidential election? You can take a course called securing digital democracy.

U of M English professor Eric Rabkin will teach a class on fantasy and science fiction, which is scheduled to go live this summer:

CBS News Video

Everybody knows Mike Wallace was one of the best journalists of his time – and his time spanned a half-century.

But he also had a great love for his alma mater, the University of Michigan, where he wrote for the Michigan Daily, and got his first taste of broadcasting. Back then, that meant the student radio station.   

Sadly, Michigan’s department of journalism was cut in 1979.  But it was survived by something called the Michigan Journalism Fellows – a program that brings a dozen mid-career journalists to Michigan’s campus for a year to give them a fresh start.

user ladydragonflycc / Flickr

What do experimental composer John Cage and Ann Arbor have in common, you ask? Morels. Story goes that John Cage was something of an amateur mushroom hunter, and he used to hunt for morels in the woods around Ann Arbor.

And since Spring means morel hunting season in Michigan, and many mushroom-enthusiasts are out foraging for the delicacy, a group in Ann Arbor is putting a musical twist on the annual spring hunt.

To celebrate what would be Cage’s 100th birthday this year, U of M music professor Michael Gurevich teamed up with U of M mycology professor Tim James for a new kind of morel hunt.

"I thought, as an homage to Cage, let’s create this performance where we tell stories, which Cage really liked to do, while hunting for edible mushrooms in the woods," explains Gurevich.

Andrew Horn / wikimedia commons

Making a case for in-state tuition at the University of Michigan has been tough battle for some students - especially undocumented immigrants.

Daniel Morales was an undocumented resident when he was accepted by the University of Michigan, but he was told he'd have to pay international tuition despite growing up in Michigan.

Morales petitioned the U of M Board of Regents for policy changes, and it seems like they're listening.

More from the Detroit Free Press:

The Board of Regents asked Provost Phil Hanlon to prepare a report on tuition equality for undocumented students, which could be presented as soon as its meeting next week.

It's unclear whether that will lead to a policy change at U-M, which currently charges students without citizenship or a green card out-of-state tuition.

Morales has said that U of M's tuition policies are unjust.

"This is a civil rights fight in which we are restraining a certain population of our community because of something that is not within their control."

Western Michigan University already charges in-state tuition for undocumented Michigan students.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Three-quarters of a century after Mike Wallace graduated from the University of Michigan, his name and his contributions live on at the Ann Arbor school.

The veteran CBS newsman died Saturday in New Canaan, Conn., at age 93.

Wallace came to Michigan from Brookline, Mass. He reported for the student-run newspaper The Michigan Daily and did radio work as well, graduating in 1939.

(Courtesy of KWF)

NEW YORK (AP) — A spokesman says CBS newsman Mike Wallace, famed for his tough interviews on "60 Minutes," has died. He was 93.

CBS spokesman Kevin Tedesco says Wallace died Saturday night.

Wallace was on the staff of "60 Minutes" when it began in 1968, and was one of its mainstays from then on.

Scott Galvin / UM Photo Services

One of the most unlikely careers in the history of University of Michigan sports ended last weekend, in overtime.

Two years ago, Michigan’s hockey team was in danger of snapping its record 19-straight NCAA tournament bids.

They finished seventh in their league – unheard of, for Michigan.  So, the only way to keep the streak alive was to win six straight league playoff games to get an automatic NCAA bid.

Oh, and they had to do it with a back-up goalie named Shawn Hunwick, a 5-foot-6 walk-on who had never started a college game until that week.  

It didn’t look good.  

But the kid caught fire. 

Dani Davis

The University of Michigan is leading an effort to get the arts to play a bigger role at research universities.

Reading, writing, and "making" are the skills Theresa Reid wants to see emphasized in higher education.

wikimedia commons

The number of Americans who believe in global warming is once again on the rise, moving from 58 percent in 2010 to 62 percent last year.

That's according to survey results released last month by U of M's Ford School of Public Policy. The survey, conducted in conjunction with the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion and published by the Brookings Institute, shows that a higher percentage of Americans accepted the science of climate change in 2011 than anytime since the fall of 2009.

Manuel Harlan / Royal Shakespeare Company

Members of the Royal Shakespeare Company are back in Ann Arbor, but they won’t be performing any of the classics while they’re in town.

The RSC is doing a “creative residency” at U of M this month, which means they'll focus on the development of two new plays - "Boris Godunov,” and “The Orphan of Zhao."

U of M English Professor Ralph Williams says the residency allows students to get an insight into the creative process, and a sense of what he calls “possible excellence." Here's how he describes it:

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

In a meeting with members of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Higher Education some tough words were levied at University of Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman.

Coleman was at the meeting to testify on Gov. Snyder's funding proposal for higher education.

During the hearing, State Rep. Kevin Cotter (R-Mt. Pleasant) said the University of Michigan did not adequately give the legislature answers to questions about human embryonic stem cells.

More from Dave Murray of MLive.com:

Cotter said the school was supposed to provide answers to five questions about the use of human embryonic stem cells – numbers he said could be provided on one sheet – and the university instead sent a cover letter with 50 pages of copied newspaper articles.

“The university is thumbing its nose at the Legislature,” he said.

Genetski, R-Saugatuck, said the university’s funding “might be in jeopardy” if it is not more cooperative.

Coleman said she doesn’t think there is a problem with the way the university responded, and she and the lawmakers “would have to disagree” on the issue.

University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman says Michigan’s higher education institutions will make a strong bid for federal grants to develop the infrastructure to support alternative energy vehicles.

“The president just announced a $1 billion commitment back on Friday and, believe me, we at the University of Michigan and Michigan State and Wayne State and other also with some of our other universities will be front and center to try and get some of that money,” said Coleman.

Coleman was on a panel in Lansing talking about the re-invention of the state’s economy.

The federal grants will go toward making 10 to 15 communities across the country models for how to create the infrastructure for cars and trucks powered by electricity, the sun, natural gas or some other alternative energy source.

Coleman says the cooperative arrangement between Michigan’s three big research universities makes the state a strong contender.

Shawn Allee / The Environment Report

Update 5:02 p.m.

Rick Fitzgerald, a spokesman for the University of Michigan, responded to concerns raised by an environmental group about Dow Chemical’s $10 million gift to the university.

The Ecology Center wants the university to release more details about the agreement between Dow and the U of M. In a press release, The Ecology Center’s Tracy Easthope urged the University “to make public the details of this gift, including whether the gift comes with strings attached.”

Fitzgerald said the University of Michigan has lots of partnerships with corporate funded research and other corporate philanthropy and has a “long track record of working very effectively with corporate partners in research projects.”

“We never turn over control of any research opportunities to the donors,” said Fitzgerald. “The program itself is directed by Don Scavia, the special counsel to the U of M President for Sustainability… and the program will continue to be directed by him and by the University of Michigan, and certainly when it comes to any curriculum development, that remains solely the responsibility of the U of M faculty and staff.”

Fitzgerald said there would be “a loaned employee from Dow” who would serve as a link between the U of M program and Dow Chemical, and who would provide some other program support.

Fitzgerald said if people are interested in the details, they are available upon request from the U of M’s public affairs department, the U of M’s Freedom of Information Office, or through Don Scavia’s office. Michigan Radio has requested a copy of the agreement.

“I think this is an exciting program,” said Fitzgerald. “It’s a great example of corporate philanthropy at the University of Michigan and we think it will be managed well and effectively to the benefit of society.”

2:12 p.m.

Environmental health director at the Ecology Center Tracy Easthope is calling on the University of Michigan to release the details behind Dow Chemical's gift to the university

It was announced yesterday that Dow will give U of M $10 million to establish a sustainability fellowship program.

The program will support the work of around 300 masters, doctoral, and post-doctoral students for a period of six years. From the University of Michigan:

Fellows will develop knowledge and seek breakthroughs across myriad components of the sustainability challenge, including human behavior, energy, water, mobility, climate change, built environment, land use, and global health.

In a statement, Easthope said, “while a major gift to further sustainability education is laudable, it is important to assure the complete independence of the University... We urge the University to make public the details of this gift, including whether the gift comes with strings attached.”

The group cites a University of California at Berkeley case as cause for concern. They say, after a giving a gift to U.C. Berkeley, a Dow Chemical employee was hired into a position where he teaches students - raising questions of academic independence.

From the Ecology Center's press release:

Dow Chemical is a global leader in manufacturing chemicals, some of which have problematic health and environmental attributes. Dow’s advocacy to continue production of these problematic chemicals suggests the company’s definition of sustainability is not in agreement with the mainstream.

“Dow is responsible for one of the largest contamination sites in Michigan, stretching more than 50 miles to Saginaw Bay and into Lake Huron,” said Rita Chapman, clean-water program director at the Sierra Club. “Until recently, they have delayed cleanup action, which has put people’s health at risk.”

Michele Hurd of the Lone Tree Council has been closely involved in the fight to get Dow Chemical to clean up its dioxin contamination in Michigan. In the release, she says "Dow has not earned a major voice in sustainability education."

A phone call was made to the University of Michigan for comment.

U of M GEO

The issue of whether University of Michigan graduate student research assistants (GSRAs) can unionize has been put to rest. Governor Rick Snyder signed a bill today saying U of M research assistants are not employees and therefore do not have the right to unionize.

The bill was introduced to the legislature by Republican Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville.

Dow Chemical will fund a new, $10 million fellowship program at the University of Michigan.

The Dow Sustainability Fellows program is designed to support 300 graduate students over six years.

Graduate students from a variety of backgrounds can become fellows. But they must focus their research on a topic related to environmental sustainability.

Dow CEO Andrew Liveris says if that sounds broad, it’s by design. He says the point is to develop human capital to address a complex, hard-to-define issue.

user Dnd523 / wikimedia commons

The University of Michigan has announced the speaker for its Ann Arbor commencement ceremony next month.

According to a press release from the university, graduates will hear an address from Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the chief medical correspondent at CNN, a practicing surgeon, and a UM alumnus who was raised in Novi.

The U of M press release describes Gupta as:

A group of students at the University of Michigan want to make higher education more accessible for undocumented Michigan residents.

Freshman Daniel Morales recently petitioned the U of M Board of Regents for policy changes that would allow undocumented immigrants who graduate from Michigan high schools to pay in-state tuition.

Morales was an undocumented resident when he was first accepted to U of M.

He was told he would have to pay international tuition despite growing up in Michigan. He was also not allowed to apply for financial aid. Morales says that U of M's tuition policies are unjust.

"This is a civil rights fight in which we are restraining a certain population fo our community because of something that is not within their control. What they can control is how they do in school, and these are students who are getting into one of the most competitive universities."

Federal law guarantees undocumented students access to public education from kindergarten through twelfth grade.

Universities set their own tuition policies.

Western Michigan University already charges in-state tuition for undocumented Michigan students.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

There have been breakthroughs in treating cancer, but what about preventing it in the first place?

In 1970, the nation launched a “War on Cancer.” The goal was to cure it in 25 years, but back then, researchers didn’t know what we know now. That cancer is a disease of our genes… “a distorted version of our normal selves” as Nobel Prize winner Dr. Harold Varmus said.

In the final part of our week-long series, I visited some researchers at the University of Michigan's Comprehensive Cancer Center who are looking deep into our cells for answers.

When Ann Arbor's own George Jewett, an African-American, made Michigan’s football team in 1890, he would not have predicted it would take more than four decades for another black player to follow him.

The biggest reason was Michigan’s head coach from 1901 to 1926, Fielding H. Yost, who had unequaled ambition and ego, and six national titles to back it all up.

But he also had a blind spot: he was a racist.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised.  His dad fought for the Confederates, after all.  But Yost was surprised decades later when his discriminatory decisions created a national controversy.

It started when he named Harry Kipke Michigan’s next head coach.

GEO

Yesterday, Michigan Radio's Steve Carmody reported on state legislation that would block graduate student research assistants at public universities from forming a union.

Today, the full Senate passed that measure.

From the Associated Press:

The measure was passed Wednesday by a 26-12 vote along party lines. The legislation advances to the Republican-led House.

The legislation specifies that graduate student research assistants would not be considered public employees as related to collective bargaining rights.

The bill (S.B. 971), sponsored by State Senate leader Randy Richardville (R-Monroe), was officially opposed by the University of Michigan Board of Regents in an "emergency meeting" called yesterday.

The vote to oppose the bill fell along party lines - six Democrats for, two Republicans against.

Michigan Radio's Jennifer Guerra reported U of M Regent Laurence Deitch (D) said because the Michigan Employment Relations Commission is in the middle of deciding about the union vote, "adoption of this law would be tantamount to changing the rules of the game in the middle of that game." Deitch also said the bill infringes on the University’s internal decision making processes.

Some graduate research assistants have been trying to form a union at the University of Michigan for decades.

The University of Michigan administration has long contended that the graduates assistants are students and not employees, and therefore do not have a right to form a union.

However, last May, the University of Michigan Board of Regents voted to recognize the graduate assistants as employees - moving the possibility of a vote to form a union one step closer.

Such a vote would have to be approved by the Michigan Employment Relations Commission (MERC).

But if the Senate-passed bill is signed into law, a decision by the MERC would be moot.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A group of University of Michigan graduate research assistants suffered a significant defeat today in a state senate committee. The senate Government Operations committee passed a bill that would specifically prevent university graduate research assistants from forming a union.       

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville says a union could interfere with the relationship between students and teachers.

“That relationship is a special relationship…it is one of learning and mentorship…and I think its important that we don’t interfere with that from the outside," Richardville said after the committee meeting.   

Samantha Montgomery is the president of the Graduate Employees Organization.  She remains optimistic that the hundreds of U of M graduate research assistants will eventually have a chance to vote on forming a union.   Montgomery says grad students like working with their professors on academic research. 

“And we are hopeful the presence of a union would help maintain that working relationship," says Montgomery. 

The Michigan Employment Relations Commission is considering the grad students’ application to hold a union vote.    But the proposed state law may make that process moot. 

Both sides accuse the other of playing politics with the issue.    Today’s vote was along partisan political lines, with three Republicans voting for the bill and two Democrats voting against. 

The results of a union vote are not certain.   A sizable number of U of M graduate research assistants signed a petition opposing a union.

Photo courtesy of UM GEO

The University of Michigan Regents voted today to oppose a Senate bill that would prohibit certain U of M graduate students from joining a union.

user brother o'mara / Michigan Radio

Santorum makes stops in West Michigan

Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith reports Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum made stops in Muskegon, Holland, and Grand Rapids yesterday. While in Muskegon, Santorum talked about producing more oil and natural gas in the U.S.

Smith reports he criticized President Obama for voting against the Keystone XL pipeline:

“(Obama and environmentalists) see an opportunity to go out and scare people. ‘Oh look at what’s going on - they’re producing all this dangerous stuff near you and they’re drilling wells. Oh and they’re going to pollute this and pollute that,” Santorum said sarcastically. “It’s a bunch of garbage.”

Mitt Romney is expected to be in Macomb County later today, and Ron Paul will be in the state later this week. We'll bring you more coverage of both these candidates. Newt Gingrich's campaign has not made any announcements of Michigan appearances for the candidate.

UM Regents hold emergency vote on graduate student union hearings

The decades long effort to unionize University of Michigan graduate students has largely been a local one - debated between students, the administration, and UM Regents on the campus in Ann Arbor.

But in the last year, the fight has been reaching into state politics with Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette stepping into the fray and now Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville.

Richardville has introduced a bill that would ban graduate student unions. He's holding hearings on the bill today, and in a symbolic show of support of the organizing graduate students, the University of Michigan Regents held a vote this morning.

From the Detroit Free Press:

The University of Michigan Regents, in an emergency meeting this morning, opposed a bill up for debate later today in a state Senate committee that would ban graduate student research assistants from unionizing.

In doing so, the Regents, in a straight party line vote, passed the motion, recognizing the more than 2,000 GSRAs as employees... Today's vote reaffirmed a motion first passed in May.

Snow in February? What is this world coming to?

With this year's unusually mild winter, news of closed roads and heavy snowfall seems unique. This morning's snowfall has led to some road closings.

From the Detroit Free Press:

Snow began falling shortly after 9 a.m. around metro Detroit, including spots in Wayne County and downtown Detroit, presenting some problems for late-morning commuters.

Westbound I-94 at Scio Church Rd. in Washtenaw County was shutdown due to an accident involving a car and a semi-truck. Motorists were being diverted onto Ann-Arbor Saline Rd.

Earlier, police shut down M-14 in both directions to clear an accident. It has since been reopened, but Washtenaw County police dispatchers warn that the area is still icy and to use precaution.

AndrewH324 / Flickr

University of Michigan students are harnessing the power of Facebook to promote a bone marrow registry drive to take place tomorrow at the Michigan Union.

A Michigan student who recently became ill with a severe bone marrow disease could potentially find the bone marrow donor he needs at tomorrow’s event.

Daniel Lee, a junior at the University of Michigan was diagnosed with aplastic anemia just over a month ago. His condition means his bone marrow no longer produces enough blood cells and he needs an emergency bone marrow transplant.

University of Michigan junior, Jessica Kaltz began planning the bone marrow drive several months ago. She organized the event in partnership with her sorority, Sigma Kappa, and DKMS, a non-profit organization that recruits bone marrow donors.

Kaltz, who says she was unaware one of her classmates might benefit when she came up with the idea, says, “It’s amazing to see how many people care when you put a face to the cause.”

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The stem cell research lab at the University of Michigan has reached a significant milestone.

A stem cell line developed from a 5 day old human embryo donated to U of M’s stem cell program has been certified by the National Institutes of Health. That’s significant, because there are only 147 embryonic stem cell lines approved by the NIH. Many of them are old lines with certain drawbacks for researchers.

Gary Smith is the co-director of the stem cell program.    He says U of M is just one of a handful of universities in the United States making new human embryonic stem cell lines for research.    

“Any investigator across the United States...or really across the world can utilize those embryonic stem cells," says Smith, "And in fact (the researchers) can use those embryonic stem cells to submit research….or for funds from the National Institutes of Health to do research on those lines.”   

Smith says U of M plans to submit another 10 stem cell lines for certification.

The University of Michigan Health System will house a new center for HIV research.
UM

The University of Michigan has released its internal review on the allegations of child pornography possession by Stephen Jensen - a medical resident of the Pediatric Emergency Department at the UM Hospital.

University officials have been accused of waiting too long to report the incident to officials.

The review found that the initial investigation into the allegations "was insufficient and improper." 

A resident reported the potential crime to a lead university attorney who caused the resident "distress and a feeling that she should not have come forward with the report."

The report found that others in the UM Health System assumed that lead attorney took control of the investigation and awaited direction from that office, and that a "review of the computer by Health System personnel was insufficient and would have been enhanced if law enforcement had been involved to lead the investigation."

The attorney is no longer at the University of Michigan.

The review states:

University management accepts responsibility for the delay in reporting the crime, an unacceptable handling of the reporting and necessary investigation of the concern regarding child pornography. We conclude that the assertion of improper control of the investigation by the attorney and reliance on her conclusions by others were the root cause for the delay and improper handling of the initial report. The case should have been forwarded to the Department of Public Safety in May.

UM President, Mary Sue Coleman just released this statement:

Statement from President Mary Sue Coleman Feb. 10, 2012

Watershed Monotype 05 / Leslie Sobel

Today's Artpod features a story where science and art intersect. 

At a lot of colleges and universities, the sciences are housed on one part of campus, the arts on another. But the two sides will have a chance to meet this week when the School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE) at the University of Michigan opens its first art gallery.

Sara Adlerstein is a research scientist at SNRE, artist, and curator for the new Art & Environment gallery.  When it comes to environmental issues, she says scientists need to be able to communicate with people outside their field.

"If you’re not able to communicate to the general public, then your work is not all that relevant," explains Adlerstein. "So I’ve been exploring to do that through art; I think art speaks to the heart. With an image you can communicate directly to the heart and make people think about how to educate themselves if they’re interested in the issues."

She hopes the new gallery will show scientists and students that charts and pie graphs aren’t the only way to share their research.

Leslie Sobel will be the first artist featured in the new gallery. She'll be displaying her "Watershed Moment" series, which Sobel says was inspired by vintage survey maps of the Mississippi River and current satellite images of the River from when it flooded last spring.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

    The Michigan Supreme Court today rejected requests by the state attorney general and a g roup supported by a conservative think tank to intervene in effort to unionize graduate student research assistants at the University of Michigan.    

Michigan’s Attorney General Bill Schuette filed a request with the state Supreme Court to stop a hearing about whether certain graduate students at the University of Michigan can unionize.

Attorney General spokesman John Selleck says they "respect the decision of the Supreme Court."

"I'm happy that the Supreme Court denied the Attorney General's motion to intervene in our hearing," says Irene Yeh, a graduate student research assistant (GSRA) at the University of Michigan. "I'm glad it looks like GSRAs will have the right to decide whether we want to unionize."

screen grab / mgoblue.com

The most important day of the year for a college football coach is not the home opener, the big rivalry game or even a bowl game.  It’s national signing day, which falls on the first Wednesday in February.

On signing day, the end zone is not grass or Astroturf, but a fax machine tray.  Only when a signed National Letter of Intent breaks the plane of that tray does it count.

A couple years ago I got a chance to see the sausage get made – and it’s not pretty.

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