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The Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs met Monday to discuss their agenda for the larger Senate Assembly and have a conversation with Amy Dittmar, vice provost of academic and budgetary affairs, on upcoming events.
Joy Beatty, chair of the committee, talked about attending the Board of Regents meeting with fellow Senate member Deirdre Spencer from the University of Michigan Library. She acknowledged the large number of students present at the meeting. She said students’ top issues were carbon neutrality and the One University movement.
“They were all highly coordinated and they all had their scripts,” Beatty said. “I think the One University question remains a thorny issue for the campus leadership to sort out whether and how Dearborn and Flint should be supported.”
Mary Jones, director of the Faculty Senate Office, talked about her visit to the Government Relations Meeting, which directs the University’s interactions at the local, state and federal levels. She discussed how the committee is working on engaging students with different activities around campus regarding the debates. She also talked about how fixing roads is a more complex issue than people might think.
“There was a lot of conversation around how roads are funded through the federal government and through the state of Michigan, as well as locally,” Jones said. “There have been communications around campus about having the (debate) being a global event and registering students to vote as well.”
Dittmar shed light on budgeting processes and priorities for the Ann Arbor campus, as the budgets for the other campuses are managed independently.
“University budgeting lies on a spectrum from an incremental model to more of a pure RCM (Responsibility Centered Management) model where all the revenues and expenses sit with the deans,” Dittmar said. “The other thing the provost does with the funds is support everything that does not have a revenue source such as the libraries, SACUA, administrative offices, student life and CAPS.”
Dittmar also talked about how the hospital is classified as an auxiliary where it finances and funds its own operations with its revenues and expenses staying within itself. She also mentioned how gifts and endowments pay into the general University fund.
“Tuition for each student would be about $6400 (more than it is now) if we didn't have the gifts and endowments,” Dittmar said.
Furthermore, the committee talked about exchanging faculty personnel for the Detroit Center of Innovation. The faculty would be providing instruction in the new center. Former chair Neil Marsh referenced his own experience regarding cross curricular teaching across schools.
“It’s proved to be impossibly difficult because different schools have different budget models,” Marsh said. “Even though it would make perfect sense to teach a specific course, the effort of having to work out all the financial stuff was a ‘life’s too short’ kind of thing.”
Marsh also expressed concern to add the issue of electronic voting for the Senate meeting to the agenda for the SACUA meeting in February. The committee discussed how the e-voting platform, including the video taping of Senate meetings, is in place but there still needs to be rules written for governing the voting process. Jones talked about how she is working on a draft regarding the rules and procedure to e-voting.
“We need to have procedures in place to ensure deliberative meetings,” Jones said. “Part of implementing e-voting is having those procedures written out and developed so that we can vet them, discuss them and then move forward from them.”