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The Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs held a hybrid meeting on Monday to discuss several Senate Assembly committees, including a new clinical faculty working group and a collaborative project with the University of Michigan IT department. 

They also spoke about other universities’ plans to safely begin in-person instruction. 

SACUA chair and Engineering Associate Professor Allen Liu said he and SACUA member and English Literature Professor at UM Dearborn J. Caitlin Finlayson attended a consortium with Faculty Senate members from 14 universities last Saturday. At the consortium, senate assembly members from the different universities discussed how to hold in-person instruction during the pandemic. 

“There were lots of similarities with faculty concerns across the universities,” Liu said. “We are not a unique place, but there doesn’t seem like there’s any sort of universal solution.”

SACUA also discussed a working group for clinical faculty, or faculty who do not have research responsibilities. Liu, who is working to create the group, said it will collaborate with SACUA’s clinical faculty reference group in collecting data on HR patterns for hiring clinical faculty at the University. 

Only some schools, such as the School of Nursing and Ross School of Business, have clinical faculty, while others like the College of Engineering do not. Under this plan, each individual school will have a representative to gather information on how many clinical faculty the University hires.

“The working group takes the information from the reference group and summarizes and revises it and then reports to us,” Liu said. “The working group is to really look at patterns and how people are categorized (as clinical vs. non-clinical faculty), which isn’t simply an HR question — it’s also how schools refer to different types of faculty.”

Liu also discussed a SACUA retreat held last Wednesday to brainstorm topics and committee ideas for the upcoming academic year.

“One of the things that we would like to work on this year is to shape the relationships with the SACUA executive officers,” Liu said. “(We would also like to) build a SACUA code of conduct and improve diversity in SACUA and in the Senate Assembly.” 

Liu added that Donald Freeman, SACUA member and professor in the School of Education, is already working on creating surveys to assess diversity within the Senate. Additionally, according to Liu, SACUA discussed faculty benefits like childcare and tuition discounts during the retreat. 

Liu said SACUA wants to establish more collaborative relationships with student leadership on campus.

“We also want to establish greater power in relating to other groups, including LEO, GEO and Central Student Government,” Liu said. “We thought we ought to collaborate and discuss with our student bodies … and see if there’s something to agree on and we can be more powerful together as a group with CSG, LEO and GEO.”

SACUA member and Director of the Faculty Senate Office MaryJo Banasik presented on the IT project. According to Banasik, the goal of the project is to create a database to house SACUA meeting information and Senate Assembly committee reports. Senate Assembly committees include the Academic Affairs Advisory Committee, the Communications Advisory Committee and the Financial Affairs Advisory Committee, among others.

“(With this database), we’ll be able to pull reports of people who served on committees in different capacities,” Banasik said. “We’re looking to be able to hold all of our documents in a database so that we can find information quickly and easily.”

Daily Staff Reporter Vanita Seed can be reached at vseed@umich.edu.