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December 10, 2001 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2001-12-10

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The Michigan Daily - Monday, December 10, 2001 - 5A





ours before the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals
heard arguments on the lawsuits facing the University

of Michigan's admissions policies last

Thursday in

Cincinnati, University President Lee Bollinger sat down with
Rachel Green and Elizabeth Kassab of The Michigan Daily
to share some of his final words with the University
community. After serving five years as chief executive of the
University, Bollinger is "jumping ship" - as Chief Circuit
Judge Boyce Martin joked at the hearing - on Dec. 31 to
become the 19th president of Columbia University, his alma
mater, and make way for interim President B. Joseph White.

Excerpts from the
The Michigan Daily: What do
you see your role as in your lawsuits
after you leave the University?
Lee C. Bollinger: "Basically, we
have laid the foundation and more for
both the legal and the public discus-
sion of these lawsuits and these
issues. So after today, it's really just a
matter of the Court of Appeals ren-
dering its decision, and then, the case
will, I predict, go to the Supreme
Court. So, there's not much more to
do in that sense or in many senses,
now the issue remains a matter of
public discussion and debate and I
will certainly continue to speak to
this issue ... it looks like I will
remain the defendant in the case.
TMD: How do you feel about
Columbia's admissions policies? Do
they differ drastically from the Uni-
versity of Michigan's?
LCB: No, I think they do not differ
drastically and they are very commit-
ted to diversity of all kinds, but in
particular racial and ethnic diversity.
They are among, I think, the largest
presence of African-Americans and
Hispanics and Native Americans in
the Ivy League. At the undergraduate
level I think it's 9 percent of the
undergraduates are African Ameri-
cans, This is a long-standing commit-
ment of Columbia.
TMD: How do you feel about the
University of Michigan's cases, espe-
cially since Hopwood (the legal chal-
lenge to the University of Texas'
admissions policies) is now gone?
What does this mean for the Universi-
ty's cases?
LCB: It doesn't do anything. The
case is what it is. It's the 5th Circuit
holding, I believe, mistakenly, that
Bakke is no longer good law. We
strongly believe that an error. The


whole point of this is to make that
TMD: What does it do for the focus
on the U of M case? Does it increase
LCB: Yes, because everyone looks
to this case as the case that will make
it to the Supreme Court, where ulti-
mately the Constitution is defined. It
is important to remember that while
there is the 5th circuit case, saying
that Bakke is no longer good law,
there's also the 9th circuit saying that
Bakke is good law, so there is what is
called a split in the circuits. It's a
classic case for the Supreme Court to
intervene and resolve the issue.
TMD: Have you been working with
interim President White closely?
How have you been smoothing out
this transition?
LCB: I try to let Joe know every-
thing he should know, and I try not to
make any major decisions that he is
unaware of, or giving him every
opportunity to express his views. I
very much want to take care of issues
that I feel responsible for during my
watch so that he's not stuck with any-
thing that I should have cared for. So
we talk frequently and other people
are helping a lot. It's a very smooth
change, and I expect (it) to be
TMD: In regard to the Undergradu-
ate Experience Report which was
released last month, as well as the
Information Technology Commission,
released this summer, how do you feel
about leaving so soon after these find-
ings have come out?
LCB: One has to remember there
are all kinds of things that I've start-
ed. The Ford School of Public Policy,
not many people mention that. We're
about to present plans for an archi-

tect. ... The location of the building
should be at the corner of Hill and
State streets right at the entrance to
the University. This should be a
building that really speaks - archi-
tecturally and academically - to the
character of the University. There's
the Ford School and the Life Sciences
buildings ... there's the Frost House,
the Miller Theater.
Even if I had stayed for 10 years,
very few of these projects would be
completed in that time. These things
extend over decades, and I'm very
pleased and proud of what we have
launched and the ideas that we have
presented to the University communi-
ty and to the alums. But it's just part
of the nature of things that the term of
a president will not coincide with the
projects undertaken. So that is also
true of the commission reports. These
are now blueprints for things that can
be done. As you probably know, I
really promoted and very much
believed that the University needs to
build more residence halls for stu-
dents. And there has to be a program
over a decade of renovating the exist-
ing residence halls. I would like to
see more upperclass students have
opportunities to live on campus. We
have approval for one new residence
facility that's under very preliminary
planning. That's part of the Under-
graduate Experience Commission
idea, how to integrate residence halls
more into the intellectual life.
The information revolution, simi-
larly, we needed a blueprint. We've
started several things, one is the
involvement with Fathom, which is
the Internet educational venture with
Columbia, University of Chicago,
British Museum, British Library all
these cultural institutions. We've
upgraded the backbone of the Uni-
versity. We're putting in fiber optics
in every new building and existing
facilities, but these things will go on
and on and on, so I'm pleased with
what we've done in a very prelimi-
nary way and I'm also pleased that
there is now a very carefully consid-
ered blueprint for the next president
and the presidents after that to think
TMD: The Detroit Free Press edi-
torial board asked you what the Uni-
versity could have done to keep you,
and you mentioned that you had
been here for most of your adult life.
Was there really anything specifical-
ly the University could have done to
keep you at the University of Michi-
LCB: This is a very hard question.
The answer is yes. But I'm not pre-
pared really to give a further explana-
What I did in that interview was to
speak about how I think the govern-
ment structure of the University
altered or changed over time, and I
believe two things are critically
important. One is to have more active
faculty elements, and the second is to
find a way to provide a role for the
very distinguished alums and I
believe eventually, other than alums
who want to commit themselves to
the University in the way that every
great university has groups like this
who over time are part of the steward-
ship of the University - of a great
university. This is my conception -
this might be a board of visitors or a
board of overseers. The regents have
by the constitution of the state of
Michigan final power, ultimate power.
Realistically, in any large organiza-

Bollinger listens to playwright Arthur Miller speak during a symposium on campus honoring the University alum's 85th
birthday last year. Bollinger initiated plans for the Arthur Miller Theater to be constructed on campus near the Power Center.

tion and especially at a university,
that power invested in the regents
must be, if the university is to be a
viable university - and certainly if
it's going to be a great university -
must be limited to preserving and
looking out for the long-term interest
in the institution. Nevertheless, that
power resides in the regents by the
constitution of the state of Michigan.
... I said I wanted to stay and
intended to stay and meant it. But I'm
just not prepared to say (what hap-"
I would just add that the reason for
leaving did not include financial
interests, not that those are insignifi-
cant, but those were not in my mind
when I made the decision.

from an economic downturn, but if
there is a long-term economic down-
turn the institution will have to
address that and a new president and
a new admjnistration, that will be a
major challenge, there is no question
about it. So the issue is, is this a one-
or two-year withdrawal from the eco-
nomic good times or a four- or five-
year downturn?
I think the other things that I would
say the University is facing is how
intellectually powerful it can be and
whether we can reasonably expect it
to be one of the greatest research uni-
versities of the world. ... The greatest
challenge that a public university like
Michigan ... faces is how do you con-
vince people that being one of the top

"I said I wanted to.
stay and in tended to
stay and meant it."

people from staff and throughout the
institution, maintaining financial sta-
bility, soundness.
But the critical thing has been real-
izing that academic excellence is easy
to say, hard to identify, and even hard-
er to do. And not all institutions stay
great. Berkeley and Stanford were not
among the very top universities in the
country 30 or 40 years ago. Today
they're stellar. They have worked very
hard. Many people, including com-
mitted alums and friends of the insti-
tution devoted themselves to
improving and making them world-
class institutions. We have that too.
We need to enhance it and preserve it.
I won't name .other institutions, but
there are some other institutions that
were among the very, very greatest
and they're not today. So we have no
guarantee that 10, 20 years from now
the University of Michigan will be
known as one of the two greatest pub-
lic universities in the country and
among the top 10 research universi-
TMD: Is there anything else you
would like to add?
LCB: I have really enjoyed the stu-
dents, and I love teaching my class,
and I have enjoyed just about every
interaction with students. The student
body at Michigan is through and
through just lovable. There is some-
thing about the nature of the student
at Michigan that I find unique and
special. It's reflected in the reciprocal
loyalty the students have with the
place. I've commented on it in the
many speeches. I talked about it in
my commencement speech last May.
So I'm very, very thankful to have
been part of that. The student body
over the past five years, I hope is a
reflection of student bodies to come.
TMD: I have one last question to
ask you. What does the "C" stand for
in your middle name?
LCB: Yeah, Carroll.
TMD: I've been wanting to ask you
that for the past three years.
LCB: Oh, really? There it is. Yeah.
TMD: You made my day.

TMD: Are there any major prob-
lems or major obstacles that you
think the University has that the next
president will have to deal with?
LCB: The University is in out-
standing shape. There are many pro-
jects underway and those can
provide a course for many years to
come, and any institution needs to
have means underway for improve-
ment. That's the way a great institu-
tion functions.
Financially, the institution is sound,
and projects have funds set aside to
support them. This is not a case of
just launching into projects without
having the resources. Now some pro-
jects, they clearly have been con-
ceived of in relation to fund-raising
goals, so I'm not saying there's
money for every single thing that has
been undertaken. For example, the
Ford School, we're very consciously
making this a program or project that
will be dependent upon raising funds
externally, not using internal Univer-
sity resources. I have no doubt that
this can be achieved. There are some
other projects that as we look at them
they come in over-budget, and we
need to step back, so I will be talking
about these as I leave. But that's all
part of the normal course of trying to
do certain things and then figuring
out that there is a better way to do it.
But on the whole and across the
board the institution is in great shape
both in terms of exciting projects to
pursue and reasonable provisions for
those projects.
We've also reserved funds for a
period where the economy is not as
strong as it has been, so that should
be helpful to cushion the University

10 research universities in the world
is worth aspiring to. Believe it or not,
there are many people, some very
close to the' institution, who do not
accept that premise. They're perfectly
happy with the University of Michi-
gan being in the top 25 or thetop 30.
It's not worth putting the resources
into the institution for that purpose.
So it's not as easy as you might think,
and I would say that's the greatest
challenge for the future administra-
tion, the future president. And I made
that an absolute cornerstone of my
TMD: What are the other corner-
LCB: I think a sense of decency
and humanity in the institution. I
don't know how many cornerstones I
have, using the metaphor; I think a
sense of preserving a kind of friendli-
ness in the institution carried to all

Office of the Registrar
Reservists and
National Guard

Bollinger addresses attendees of a discussion on the increasing importance of genetic
science and its connection to art at the University Museum of Art last April.

Continued from Page 1A
terms of exciting projects to pursue
and reasonable provisions for those
projects,' he said.

Food for Thought

the Michigan Daiily Dis

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