Category Archives: University of Michigan

Who will replace MSC as U Michigan president?

MGoBlog has a tremendously entertaining and informative guide to handicapping the race to replace Mary Sue Coleman as University of Michigan president. The article calls out the University of Virginia’s Teresa Sullivan (ex UM provost), Oberlin’s Marvin Krislov (ex UM general counsel), and Rutgers’s Nancy Cantor (ex UM provost) as the top three picks.

Of the three Cantor seems to be least likely, since she just took a position at Rutgers in January 2014 having left Syracuse.

The field is a lot longer – MGoBlog gives current UM Athletic Director David Brandon a 350-1 chance at getting the nod. The commenters are even less enthusiastic:

Dave Brandon entering the presidency with zero academic administration experience, much less zero experience in the academy… Disaster. Dismantle the Diag, mothball the libraries, send everyone home.

UPDATE: It turns out MGoBlog is triply entertaining; there’s a Part 2 and a Part 3 to the race to replace series.

So now we all sit back and wait. If there is going to be a a permanent President named to start by the fall, we should hear the name in the next few months. If I hear any names start to surface, I’ll certainly tap out the fourth installment of the Diary.

MGoBlog refers to David Jesse’s Freep article with more about how the search has been very secretive.


500+ University of Michigan faculty protest “Administrative Services Transformation” project in open letter

“An Open Letter to President Coleman and Provost Pollack”, published on – from the lead paragraph:

We, the undersigned faculty of the University of Michigan, support your intent to realign administrative expenses relative to revenues. However we collectively reject the proposed Administrative Services Transformation (AST) project. We respectfully offer an alternative approach to AST, which we call Unit- Centric Services (UCS). We believe that the AST approach is inherently flawed because its focus is on reducing administrative costs without taking into account the concurrent reduction in faculty and staff productivity, collaborative academic culture, and the unique needs of heterogeneous academic units. In contrast, UCS’s focus is on productivity and intra-unit efficiencies. Higher productivity translates into higher revenues relative to expenses, even though expenses may, but do not need to, be higher. The unique cultures and modes of operation of different units are facilitated by staff that retain corporate knowledge of local processes. Conversely, AST is a top-down program that eliminates the ability to retain corporate knowledge and leverage the unit-culture experiences of some 300 support staff while limiting their contributions to a series of transactional tasks in a call center. The inevitable result is to tax the faculty with numerous clerical tasks, thereby reducing their accessibility to students and their productivity as scholars and researchers. In contrast, the premise of UCS is to develop a strategic plan aimed at improving productivity at the unit level (school/college and/or department), with plans developed with full participation by the faculty, staff and administrators in that unit, and in tune with the particular academic culture and practices of that unit.

As of this writing, the document is signed by 594 faculty members.

Clearly, one of the things that the University would need to centralize to avoid public displays of dissent is the control of web sites and the domain name system.

Also noted by the Ann Arbor Chronicle.

Previously, from the Michigan Daily.

University administrators apologized to concerned department chairs Thursday about the lack of communication and clarity in their decision-making process about the center, which is expected to cut costs by $5 to 6 million by consolidating human-resource and finance services to a centralized location.

Also previously, from Inside Higher Ed

Nineteen department chairs in the College of Literature, Science and the Arts — the largest college on campus — wrote a Nov. 1 letter to senior administrators protesting an “air of secrecy” around the effort and raising concerns that longtime staffers, particularly lower-income women, would be hurt by the changes, either because of layoffs or pay cuts.
In response, senior Michigan officials wrote a Nov. 14 letter acknowledging they were “not sensitive or consultative enough in the planning and communication of this initiative.”

#BBUM at the poster wall near the Fishbowl, University of Michigan

I saw this today at the poster wall near the Fishbowl on the University of Michigan central campus. The #BBUM hashtag has been trending for a couple of days now. It stands for “Being Black at the University of Michigan”, and it’s part of a brilliant campaign organized by the Black Student Union that shows no signs of stopping.

2013-11-20 17.22.13

University of Michigan Computer and Video Game Archive (CVGA) Fifth Anniversary

Aael-cvga-300x225I went with S and J to the University of Michigan Computer and Video Game Archive (CVGA) on the UM North Campus in the basement of the Duderstadt Center. They were celebrating their fifth anniversary with cupcakes and a Mario tournament. The boys had a chance to play games, and I had a chance to talk to David S. Carter (aka about the collection. Here are some notes.

There are about 5000 games in the collection, and about half of them are donated. An annual collection budget of about $13,000 buys new games and the occasional old console from eBay. The archive has a near complete collection of US consoles, and Dave said they are looking to expand their international coverage. One of their latest acquisitions was a DVD system that plays only one title. The archive would like to improve its collection of handheld games.

The biggest challenge of the next five years is with digital rights management (DRM). The DRM systems envisioned would lock a game to a particular piece of console hardware, making it impossible to have used games and very hard for a library to add a title to a collection. For network-delivered games like Steam it’s equally hard for the library to spend $10 on a license, when licenses negotiated by libraries for things like electronic versions of journals are usually for much more.

Dave said the archive was pretty much where they want to be after 5 years. He knew they were on the right track when they got space in the library even before they had a budget. The challenge of next five years is less collection building and more about building connections across campus and around the world to other research collections. He compared the collection to early film and video collections, now standard at all research libraries, but once considered a novelty.

Other comparable collections are at the University of Texas at Austin and at Stanford. Public libraries so not tend to have research collections, preferring to either use video games strictly for events or to have a circulating collection where you check out current games like any other video or music media.

I asked Dave about the Internet Archive’s online gaming collection, and especially about the role of emulation in preserving games. He told me that emulation does not preserve original game play, especially the ergonomics of controllers. Playing on original game hardware with original video hardware gives you an accurate rendition of original game play experience. (Besides, you can’t play Duck Hunt without an old fashioned TV because the game depends on sensing the scan lines on the TV.) Some old games are very hard to enjoy on original hardware and the limitations of the controls, not the game itself, are what trips up your enjoyment.

Michigan Wikipedians – U of Michigan student Wikipedia association

Michigan Wikipedians is a University of Michigan student association.

Michigan Wikipedians (or MWiki) is a Wikipedia student organization at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. The group was the first student Wikipedia club in the United States. The club is open to all students and faculty of the University of Michigan, as well as community members who are interested in Wikipedia. It meets every Monday at 8:00PM at the Language Resource Center in the basement of North Quadrangle.

I went to an organizing meeting Monday 30 September 2013, here’s a few things I saw.

Use this template to link Wikipedia articles to their ArborWiki counterparts, especially if the ArborWiki articles contain more information (including information of local interest more appropriate to ArborWiki than Wikipedia).

Combine this with the corresponding pages that link to this template and you get a short list of forward links from Wikipedia to Arborwiki. There’s a similar page of Arborwiki entries with pages in Wikipedia that completes the loop.

Meetings are every Monday on the U of Michigan campus. I’m hoping to make it there 2d Mondays – 1st and 3d Mondays are Ann Arbor City Council, and 4th Mondays are a2civictech – and hope to see you there.

When I hear #a2council talking about the city and the university, I think about China Mieville’s “The City and the City”

As reviewed on Wikipedia –

These two cities actually occupy much of the same geographical space, but via the volition of their citizens (and the threat of the secret power known as Breach), they are perceived as two different cities.

The two cities are the University of Michigan and Ann Arbor; both treat themselves as sovereign nations as best they can, and though the freeway ring mostly encircles both they are distinguished by having separate police forces, separate budgets, separate public green space and separate social circles and hierarchies. It would not be hard (except on Football Saturdays) to unsee the University, and it would not be hard to live a life on campus that never saw the city, especially if you are an undergraduate.