UM regents begin meeting in $150 million renovated building on campus

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

Correction: The University of Michigan Board of Regents meets once each year on the campuses of UM-Dearborn and UM-Flint. A previous version of this story incorrectly described the board’s frequency of meetings at both campuses.

For the past decade, the University of Michigan Board of Regents has conducted business in a tight room inside the Michigan Union and the clubhouse of the UM Golf Course off-campus.

Last week, the regents began meeting in their new, permanent home: University Hall, within the newly renovated, $150 million Alexander G. Ruthven Building, located on Geddes Avenue on central campus.

The 138,000-square-foot building, built in 1928 and designed by Albert Kahn, used to house UM’s Museum of Natural History but has since been revamped for office spaces for 200 employees, including central administration leaders and the UM president.

University Hall is quiet before the start of the University of Michigan Board of Regents meeting inside the Alexander G. Ruthven Building, in Ann Arbor, March 24, 2022.

"What a spectacular meeting space we have in the Ruthven Building," said interim President Mary Sue Coleman after taking roll call of the board members during the March 24 regents meeting. "This is the first permanent space that the board has had in 10 years. And it is simply stunning."

The regents approved the Ruthven building's renovation in 2016 and includes the addition of the adjacent Central Campus Classroom Building with an aim of  combining research, teaching and learning, along with its core administrative functions, into one complex.

Historic features of the exterior and rotunda have been preserved, but the interior is a modern design. 

A highlight of the building is University Hall with tall windows, a drop-down projector screens and flat-screen TVs. The 3,100 square-foot hall will be used for regents' meeting and other large gatherings.

University Hall used to display dinosaur skeletons inside the Museum of Natural History, which moved to the new Biological Sciences Building and reopened in 2019.

The regents' meeting last week in University Hall comes more than 150 years after historic records show for the first time a specific site for the board's meeting in 1871, according to Kim Clarke, manager of university heritage communications.  

Coincidentally, the board's 1871 meeting was in the Office of the President, in University Hall.

Prior to that, the board met for the first time on June 5, 1837, but historical records do not reflect a specific location other than in Ann Arbor or Detroit.

Over the years, the regents met in the Law Department Building, Angell Hall and the Administration Building, now the Literature, Science & Arts Building.

The regents also travel to meet every year on the campuses of UM-Flint and UM-Dearborn. They have also have met in Detroit and Grand Rapids, and will meet in for the first time in the Upper Peninsula in July at Little Bear East Arena in St. Ignace.

kkozlowski@detroitnews.com