Notes from the Meeting, October 31, 2019- Halloween!!

Happy Halloween!!!

Dennis Powers opened the meeting with a very thoughtful Inspiration that foreshadowed President Schlissel’s talk:

“Harvard – The Michigan of the East” the t-shirt sold by Moe Sports Shop proudly used to proclaim. Harvard’s motto is “Veritas” — Truth. But truth is an end result, the synthesis of a diligent search for objective reality and moral compass. That inquiry is what discerns Truth. It is an on-going, never ending process. So it always has seemed to me that the mission of a university is better summed up by the motto on the seal of the University of Chicago: “Crescat scientia; vita excolatur.” Freely translated: “Let knowledge grow from more to more; and so be human life enriched.”

Morticia Adams * led us in singing about Our Rotary Family snap snap.

President Greg thanked the Usual Suspects for setting up and helping throughout the meeting.  Birthday announcements followed.  All the guests were introduced and greeted at one time as there were so many.

Fall begins the busiest season and Rotaractors are available – for Rent – to do lots of the fall and holiday chores.  House work, yard work, event help, present wrapping – any and all chores can be done for a donation to the Club.  Donations  fund the international and domestic Spring Break trips, as well as other service or club events. Contact Lilly Correll at with your contact info, description of the task, date or range of dates needed, and how long you expect the task to take.  Email before Sunday noon.

The District Gala will be November 5 at the Eagle Crest Marriott.

Don Deatrick took the podium to update us on the Hire MI Vet event which will be November 13 at the Morris Lawrence Building at WCC.  Hire MI Vet hosts a range of employment related services including employment workshops, networking events, and this annual hiring event.  More than 100 vets are registered to attend and at least 34 invited employers will be there.  Since the first event in 2015 forty eight vets have confirmed employment; they have earned approximately $1.4 million.  Contact Don Deatrick to be part of this important event.

Art Holst and Karen Kerry reminded us that Stories of Service will be Monday, November 5.  The event, at Hill Auditorium, is free but donations are very welcome.  Proceeds go to to Fisher House, the home away from home lodging for veterans and their families who are in Ann Arbor for treatment at the VA.

President Greg congratulated us all on the success of Purple Pinkie Day last week, which raised more than $1700.00 from our Club for polio eradication; this will be matched by the Gates Foundation.

The Voice (and face) of WUOM Radio Free Rotary, Steve Schram,  gave us a quick rundown of the news, ending with spooky wishes for Happy Halloween.


Notes from the Program

Cynthia Wilbanks introduced Mark Schlissel, President of the University f Michigan.  President Schlissel began his remarks urging us to return to the Union when renovations are complete.  He commented on how much Rotary has contributed to the quality of life in Ann Arbor and how important that is to recruiting and retaining faculty and students.

Educating students on the importance of voting has been a focus of campus life this Fall.  There have been many activities focused on getting out the vote, including a UM initiative Big Ten Voter Challenge that has registered more than 6500 student voters.

President Schlissel then talked about initiatives the University has undertaken to spread its resources and learning out into the community.  There is a School of Education teaching initiative that is ongoing at Mitchell Elementary and Slauson Middle School, which has expanded to Huron High.  Michigan Medicine has facilities in Brighton and West Ann Arbor.  These clinics have served 2.3 million patients.  Michigan Medicine is collaborating with providers around to state, delivering the expertise of Michigan Medicine to Michiganders in their home communities.  The Poverty Solutions Initiative provides summer jobs at the University for students.  Along with salary, the job comes with intensive coaching on workplace behaviors, like promptness, how to dress, how to interact with peers and supervisors.

The University has committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2025. This is quite a challenge because the University is growing almost faster than they can reduce emissions.  They are trying many avenues to carbon neutrality, with the long term goal of demonstrating that this can be done in a financially responsible way.  This is important because the University alone becoming carbon neutral is, as President Schlissel says, “small potatoes”, so if others are to follow, financial impact must be addressed.

President Schlissel updated us on the Victors for Michigan campaign, acknowledging several times the generosity of donors, both large and small,  who are part of the University family of students, alumni, and faculty, and people from the wider community, both national and international.  The campaign has raised more than $5 billion and has several months to run.  It is the largest campaign ever launched by a public university.  $1.5 billion will go directly to student support.  The Go Blue Guarantee promises that qualified students from Michigan families earning less than $65,000 a year can attend free.  At present, 29% of undergraduates have no tuition.  This is a program made possible by the 382,433 donors.

President Schlissel talked about the research initiatives that are possible because of the breadth and excellence of the many schools and laboratories at Michigan.  Big societal problems draw collaboration among the many disciplines.  As example, work is being done to identify the 20% of surgical patients who will become addicted to the opioids that at present are prescribed to control pain.  This involves the medical school, the life sciences, bio engineering, chemistry, statistics, law school, and even business school.

President Schlissel responded to several questions.  The Harvard Admissions lawsuit should have a modest impact on Michigan because Proposal 2 already forbids discrimination on the basis of race or ethnicity.  He talked about the unfairness of legacy admissions – the practice of giving preference to children of alumni or big donors – because it allows those who have already benefited from the opportunities of higher education to continue to benefit, at the expense of others not so fortuitously situated.

When asked if civility and ethics are taught, President Schlissel notes that the university reflects society, and that there is a lot of incivility.  The University is encouraging talking about issues rather than avoiding them, sponsoring small groups of students form all sides of an issue, to discuss.

President Schlissel said there are several routes to report bias. The University has responded to accusations of liberal bias in the faculty and student body by encouraging more listening. He regrets that there is so much self censoring because of social pressures.  The University approaches dissent over speakers by inviting students to carry signs and chant for a short period, but then has them either quite to hear what a speaker has to say, or leave the room.  This way, everyone’s side is heard.

As Batman would say: See you at Stories of Service at Hill Auditorium tonight! Be good Batmen and Batwomen — Vote on Tuesday.

And don’t forget our meeting this Wednesday when we will hear about: Arlington National Cemetery & the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Same Bat station, same Bat time.

* Joanne Pierson