University of Michigan regents say they impressed donors during California trip
AnnArbor.com file photo
The trip took place Jan. 17th and 18th and included seven of the eight regents, university President Mary Sue Coleman, provost Philip Hanlon, secretary Sally Jo Churchill, chief fundraiser Jerry May and a staffer.
The cost was $27,200, including $17,000 for Hyatt Regency Century Plaza hotel accommodations and food, $9,700 for travel and another $500 for random expenses.
"It was a great learning experience for all of us," Board of Regents chairman Laurence B. Deitch said during a Thursday meeting. "We talked about in years to come replicating this in different parts of the country."
The trip, he said, provided regents an opportunity to get acquainted with their two newest colleagues, newly elected regents Mark Bernstein and Shauna Ryder Diggs.
During the two-day session, the board met with Robert Birgeneau, chancellor of University of California's Berkeley campus, John Hennessy, president of Stanford University, Robert Berdahl, former leader of UC-Berkeley and other colleges, and Dan Russell, a Google research scientist.
They talked with guests about "tough and intractable problems" facing higher education, including affordability and education technology, and reached out to California donors during two events in an effort to further cultivate alumni relationships prior to launching the next capital campaign.
Donors, U-M officials said, were impressed that the regents traveled west together.
"Southern California has become an incredibly important area in terms of philanthropic [support]," Deitch said, explaining one event was a "fun," "fabulous night" during which a U-M student music group performed.
There are 41,000 U-M alumni living in California, the biggest concentration of Wolverines in any state except for Michigan. Officials have said the next fundraising campaign, expected to launch in fall 2013, will target donors from the West Coast.
"It was very important [for donors] to see the governance of the university in action," Deitch said. "We made the point, when you invest in Michigan you need to know that people are appreciative of it."
Coleman agreed that the trip "helped our development efforts" and impressed potential donors.
Added May: "It made a huge difference."
As a result of forgoing the January public meeting, the board is scheduled to meet publicly 10 times in 2013, as opposed to the traditional 11 monthly meetings each year.