Courtesy of Marlee Sacksner

The Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs met in a hybrid format in the Ruthven Building on Monday afternoon to announce committee awards and meet with University of Michigan President-elect Santa Ono before he takes office on Oct. 14. The meeting was open to the public for 20 minutes and served to recognize faculty members with awards as well as introduce Santa Ono to his first SACUA meeting. 

SACUA chair Silvia Pedraza, sociology professor, began the meeting by discussing the awards that would be distributed at the SACUA Faculty Award Event later in the evening. The awards include the Jackie Lawson Memorial Faculty Governance Award, the Regents Award and the Regents Award for Distinguished Public Service. All members of the U-M faculty are eligible to receive these awards, Pedraza said.

The Jackie Lawson Memorial Faculty Governance Award — named for Jackie Lawson, who served as a professor of English and Communications at U-M Dearborn from 1985 to 2000 — affords its recipient $1,500. This year’s award recipient is Caitlin Finlayson, professor of English Literature at the College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters at U-M Dearborn.

Pedraza described the rationale behind SACUA’s decision to present Finlayson with the award.

“(Finlayson’s) service to our University really exemplifies the criteria for this award,” Pedraza said. “She was not only in the senate assembly, she was vice chair of SACUA and chair of the Tri-Campus Committee of the senate, so she really was always a strong voice toward the concerns and perspectives of regional campuses.”

In a statement from the University Record, the University wrote that Finlayson’s commitment to improving relationships between all three U-M campuses earned her this award.

“Finlayson is a highly respected scholar, collaborator and academic,” the statement read. “While serving as vice chair of the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs from 2020-22, Finlayson focused on strengthening relationships among the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses. Her dedication to bringing transparency to faculty governance and to building an equitable, just and sustainable university community has been invaluable.”

The Regents Award — which recognizes exceptional public service among the U-M faculty — was presented to Oveta Fuller, associate professor of microbiology and immunology at the U-M Medical School.

“(Fuller) has spent more than a decade conducting global health implementation science research, which seeks to develop and rigorously document effective approaches to sharing biomedical science advances in infectious diseases with the broader community,” the University said in a statement. “This work disseminates the latest information about HIV/AIDS through networks of religious clergy and faith leaders to increase understanding of science relating to the diseases.”

The Distinguished Faculty Governance Award – which recognizes distinguished service to faculty governance over a period of several years – was also distributed by SACUA. SACUA decided to split this award between chemistry professor Neil Marsh and chemistry and Greek & Latin professor David Potter.

“Marsh has made important contributions to faculty governance at U-M, LSA and the Department of Chemistry,” the University wrote in a statement. “Potter is widely known for his exceptional commitment to central faculty governance at U-M.”

SACUA then met virtually in an executive session for 30 minutes with President-elect Santa Ono. Following the executive session, Pedraza said the purpose of the meeting with Ono was to make introductions. Pedraza said she was pleased with the meeting and has hope for Ono’s tenure.

“It was very brief. It was just to introduce ourselves and for him to express his desire to be with us and I think we had a very successful encounter,” Pedraza said. “To me, he comes across as a very nice guy who is also very competent, who communicates well, and is sincere. He is eager to meet with SACUA at U-M.”

Daily Staff Reporter Marlee Sacksner can be reached at