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The Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs (SACUA) met virtually on Monday to speak with University of Michigan President Schlissel and hear from the Chair of the Committee on Anti-Racism (CAR) as well as from outgoing SACUA members. SACUA also discussed faculty nominations to the University of Michigan’s Advisory Board on Intercollegiate Athletics (ABIA) and SACUA’s Judicial Hearing Board. 

MaryJo Banasik, director of the Faculty Senate Office, reminded SACUA representatives that nominations to serve on ABIA will be due May 7. 

Banasik also reported that thus far 16 out of the University’s 17 Senate Assembly committees have submitted reports on recent committee activity. These reports will be shared with the entire Senate Assembly at their upcoming meeting on May 10.

SACUA then transitioned to an executive session to meet with University President Schlissel.

Upon returning from the executive session, CAR Chair Damani Partridge re-introduced the specific goals of the committee, which were proposed by SACUA and approved by the Senate Assembly in the Fall semester. SACUA has designated the role of the CAR to include identifying ways in which the University contributes to institutionalized racism and changing University policies to actively promote anti-racism initiatives.

“The first charge (of CAR) is to try and identify ways in which the University, College or other institutional policies contribute to structural racism and identify ways to change policies to promote anti-racism,” Partridge said.

Partridge also reported the committee’s findings over the past year regarding faculty-reported experiences with racism. He acknowledged that the committee has not publicly published their findings yet, and noted that the results are somewhat preliminary.  

“Some key issues (CAR has identified) include macroaggressions, microaggressions, double standards and workplace harassment (among faculty),” Partridge said.  

SACUA members who will be completing their term after the next two meetings were then invited to share parting words about what they have accomplished during their time on the committee. Deirdre Spencer, University of Michigan Librarian for History of Art, spoke first and said she is proud to have represented marginalized racial and occupational demographics as a faculty leader at the University.

“I don’t think there’s been a Black person or a librarian on SACUA for probably at least a decade,” Spencer said. “I felt a very special commitment to represent both librarians and Black people. I would love to see more people of color participate in faculty governance and have the sort of access I’ve been able to have.”

Spencer also mentioned her contributions to SACUA’s transition to a virtual environment, which has allowed SACUA to continue to safely meet during the COVID-19 pandemic. Spencer said she helped facilitate remote meetings and digitize elections. Spencer also noted her involvement with the University’s Committee on Anti-Racism.

“Fortunately, the decision was made to go ahead with electronic voting right before the pandemic,” Spencer said. “So now we can have our meeting remotely, we’re able to vote and still have a forum.”

LSA professor Neil Marsh, an outgoing SACUA member, also brought up SACUA’s adoption of virtual meetings and electronic voting in his speech.

“One of the things I wanted to do during my time with SACUA was …  moving to electronic meetings, having electronic voting,” Marsh said. “One of the good things about the pandemic is …  we saw that we could have virtual meetings.”

Finally, Annalisa Manera, outgoing Vice Chair and Engineering professor, thanked the committee for the opportunity to serve as a part of the University’s faculty government.

“It’s nice it all worked out this year,” Manera said.

SACUA then transitioned again to an executive session for the remainder of the meeting.

Daily Staff Reporter Teagan Stebbins can be reached at