Bob Behrens retires after 35 years at UM-Dearborn

2/21/2011

Robert Behrens will trade in his office in the Administration Building for the sandy beaches and scenic coastlines of Sarasota, Florida when he retires from UM-Dearborn at the end of the month.

Behrens, who has served as vice chancellor for business affairs since 1985, will retire on March 1 after 35 years with the campus.

A reception will be held from 2 to 5 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 24 at the Henry Ford Estate with a formal program set for 3 p.m. Those wishing to attend the reception should RSVP at webapps.umd.umich.edu/eventsignup/.

Serving four different chancellors, Behrens was vice chancellor for business affairs during a time of tremendous growth of campus facilities, programs and enrollment.

“Bob has provided solid leadership and impeccable integrity during a period of time when state resources were steadily declining and campus aspirations were rising,” wrote Chancellor Daniel Little in an e-mail to the campus about Behrens’ retirement. “He leaves the University in a strong financial position and with a strong staff in place to continue the work of business affairs. Like many others on the campus, I feel a tremendous debt of gratitude to Bob for his steady, wise stewardship of the University’s resources and plans.”

Behrens began his U-M career on the Ann Arbor campus in 1970, where he joined the financial services staff following his graduation from Western Michigan University. He subsequently held a number of positions with increasing responsibility on the Ann Arbor campus before coming to the Dearborn campus as assistant director of financial services in 1976 and becoming director of that office the following year. Behrens was appointed vice chancellor for business affairs after serving as interim vice chancellor for 10 months.

Highlights of Behren’s career include helping to acquire the Fairlane Center—a facility of two connected buildings with approximately 318,000 gross square feet on approximately 30 acres with 1,000 parking spaces--from Ford Motor Company in 2003, and helping negotiate the transfer of ownership of the Henry Ford Estate, a decision that was difficult but best for the campus and the national historical landmark in the long-run, according to Behrens.

But it’s his administrative legacy that will always be a part of this campus and is an element of his career he’s most proud of. “I’m delighted the campus has been on solid financial footing during my years here,” Behrens said. “I’m happy to have played a part in that along with Robert Gassel and his team.”

Behrens will begin his retirement by heading to Florida, where he and his wife plan to escape the Michigan winters, traveling up to Michigan in the summer months to enjoy quality time with their three sons and their families.

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