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Ann Arbor, Michigan
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
UNIVERSITY HEALTH CARE
Administration must balance
rising costs with quality, in
competition for top faculty
By JACOB SMILOVITZ
Daily Staff Reporter
With high health care costs plaguing colleges and
businesses across the country, University officials
are searching for a remedy to its own increasing
health insurance bills.
The major challenge facing the administration
is figuring out how to pay the escalating bills while
remaining competitive with its peer institutions in
attracting the best faculty and staff by offering high-
quality benefit plans.
"We're trying to curb the rate of increase and not
do anything that would jeopardize our competitive
position," said David Reid, Director of Communica-
tions at University Human Resources.
In 1997, health care costs accounted for about 7
percent of the University's total operating budget,
according to the University's Benefits Stewardship
website. Today that figured has increased to 9 per-
cent and is projected to stand just under 12 percent
by 2017 and 15 percent by 2027.
Laurita Thomas, the University's Associate Vice
President and Chief Human Resource Officer, said
the substantial drain on the overall budget for
healthcare could soon affect tuition prices at the
"If you're spending 15 percent of your operating
budget, than we have to continue to raise tuition at a
much higher rate than would normally be appropri-
ate," she said.
The most recent solution proposed by the Uni-
versity to combat the mounting health care costs,
announced in a press release distributed this week,
is to increase the percentage of health care costs paid
by University employees and retirees from 20 per-
cent to 30. percent, which would decrease the Uni-
versity's financial responsibility from 80 percent to
70 percent of the total costs.
Thomas said that while the University under-
stands the cost increase "has an impact on families,"
they are necessary to sustain the academic programs
See HEALTHCARE, page 7A
Engineering senior Jeff Rogers, right, of the Michigan Solar Car Team speaks with LSA freshman Nick Meyer, left, in front of the award-winning solar car at the 2008 Energy Fest on the Diag.
With reen ec s ens
rush to environmental programs
Enrollment in University's
Program in the Environment has
increased tenfold since 2003
As the green movement gathers more momentum,
students are jumping on the bio-diesel bandwagon
and enrolling in the University's environmental aca-
demic programs in record numbers.
Robert Owen, director of the University's Pro-
gram in the Environment, attributed the increased
enrollment in PitE to a "much greater environmental
awareness among students and a feeling of steward-
ship and responsibility."
PitE, which is offered through LSA, began in 2002
as an attempt to consolidate environmental education
taking place in other programs scattered on campus.
In just six years, enrollment in the programhas grown
tenfold from 35 students working toward majors and
minors in 2002-2003 to 333 students by the end of
In addition to the program's core requirements,
students also select an environmental specialization
and conduct field research in that area, Owen said.
Meanwhile, The Erb Institute for Global Sustain-
able Enterprise predicts that its graduating class of
2010 will be twice as large as it was in 2005. It also
announced in July that its 2007-2008 academic year
enrollment increased by 30 percent from the 2006-
The rise in enrollment in PitE, Owen said, can be
credited in part to increased media coverage and the
program's appealing flexibility.
"Many students initially became informed through
media," Owen said. "Environmental courses aren't
particularly common in high school so the Internet
seems to be the main source of news."
Students enrolled in the University's environmen-
tal programs say that the Internet is a major factor in
generating interest in environmental issues and edu-
See GREEN, page 7A
Campus target of marketing blitz
Students use guerrilla
advertising to promote new
social networking site
By CHARLES GREGG-GEIST
At 4 a.m. on the first day of class, while
most students were enjoying one last night
of good sleep before the start of the school
year, Engineering seniors Jason Bornhorst,
Dheeraj Sanka and Brent Traut were wide
awake, loading white folding chairs into a
trailer attached to Bornhorst's car.
The chairs, spray painted with the mes-
sage "your neighbors could be sitting here,"
were the beginning of what the three friends
call a "guerrilla marketing campaign" for the
social networking website they founded this
The website. aims to help students meet
and interact with their neighbors. The big-
gest difference between CampusRoost and
other social networking sites is that instead
of each user maintaining his own page,
there's one for every residence - or roost, as
they're dubbed on the site.
But like every social networking site, its
strength is in numbers. To promote their
product, the trio spent the morning scatter-
ing the chairs on front lawns, porches and in
classrooms across campus.
"We'd just stop in the street, and Dheeraj
and I would get out, and just put them on
houses, and then we'd go to the next street,"
Bornhorst said. "It took us all night."
Many students have paid particular atten-
tion See CAMPUSROOST, page 7A
Michigan Student Assembly members gathered for their first meeting of the year last night in the Michigan Union.
GAVELING INA NEW YEAR
Student robbed south of campus
Assembly to consider
By MATT AARONSON
Michigan Student Assembly Presi-
dent Sabrina Shingwani was enthu-
siastic at the body's first meeting last
night. She reminded the assembly of its
responsibility to the University com-
"Know that it is your privilege to rep-
resent 40,000 students on campus," she
said, adding "It's up to you to define this
year on the assembly."
MSA Vice President Arvind Sohoni
provided similar encouragement, urg-
ing members to get involved and focus
a particular issue or committee.
HIGH RISE OPPOSITION
Sohini and Student General Counsel
Michael Benson proposed a resolution
against the planned student high-rise
on the corner of South Forest Avenue
and South University Avenue. The
projected, now called 601 Forest, has
drawn outcry from city residents and
local business owners who say that at.
25-stoiies the complex is too tall for the
The Ann Arbor City Council is cur-
rently reviewing the construction pro-
posal, and Councilmember Sabra Briere
(D-Ward 1) had requested MSA's input.
The proposed resolution.states that
the assembly "formally disapproves of
See MSA, page 7A
Police: man with gun
demanded student's wallet
in early-morning mugging
By SARA LYNNE THELEN
University Police issued a campus crime
alert Tuesday after a University student
was robbed at gunpoint early Sunday morn-
ing at his home south of Central Campus.
According to the alert, the student was
sitting on his porch on Oakland Avenue
near East University Avenue and Arch
Street when a stranger approached him,
brandished a handgun and asked for his
The man left the scene on foot at around
3 a.m. after the student gave him money.
The student was not injured.
The sispect is described as a 6-foot-3,
195-pound white male about 30 years
old. He was last seen wearing a grey
See ROBBERY, page 7A
WEATHER HI: 71
TOMORROW L: 49
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