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The University of Michigan Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs met Monday to deliberate on a faculty meeting conference with other Big Ten schools, rotating locations of SACUA meetings, engaging the Board of Regents in SACUA decisions and topics for the next Senate Assembly meetings.
SACUA Vice Chair Joy Beatty, associate professor of management studies at U-M Dearborn, recently attended a faculty leadership conference with representatives from all Big Ten schools. Taking into consideration the conference, the committee discussed the different classifications and benefits of part-time faculty at each university, as well as the potential consequences and benefits of online schools such as Purdue University Global.
SACUA member Sarah Lippert, associate professor of art history at U-M Flint, pointed out cooperation between administrative bodies such as the Board of Regents, and different governing committees and faculty members is necessary for any real change to happen.
“Unless the administration will enforce the policies and follow them, then it’s not enforceable (for the University community),” Lippert said.
Beatty then discussed how some universities, such as Northwestern University, have brought a full-time researcher on staff to inform committee chairs and ensure they have evidence to base their decisions on. SACUA member Bill Schultz, a professor in the College of Engineering, thinks adding a staff member to tell committees what to present gives too much power to the researcher.
The committee then discussed rotating locations of SACUA meetings, such as in the College of Engineering, in order to hear more from Senate Assembly members in different colleges.
SACUA debated the best way to hear input from members at different colleges. Tom Schneider, director of the Faculty Senate Office, mentioned Senate Assembly members should feel like SACUA cares about what they have to say.
The next topic of discussion was engaging with the Board of Regents on SACUA decisions. The assembly decided to continue informal breakfasts with the board rather than inviting them to SACUA meetings in order to hear their opinions on issues in a casual environment.
The assembly then suggested different topics to cover at the next Senate Assembly. SACUA chair Neil Marsh, professor in the Chemistry Department, brought up changing the rules of the Senate Assembly to allow online attendance and voting.
“Revamping the rules of the Senate and Senate Assembly so that we can do some things electronically rather than having to rely on quill and parchment for communication (would be beneficial),” Marsh said. “I believe the rules committee has been working on some draft language to change the rules.”
Finally, SACUA moved to discuss grievance policies at the University. Faculty Senate Secretary David Potter, professor in the Classical Studies Department, brought up past issues with current grievance procedures which the Assembly seemed to acknowledge.
SACUA discussed how bringing grievance procedure issues to the upcoming Senate Assembly could inform more Senate members on how the policies work and bring to light issues the assembly has not yet considered.
“The issue, I think, is when the chair of the Grievance Review Board is from the same unit as the grievant, and the dean is sitting there next to them,” Potter said.
Lippert agreed, saying Potter’s scenario is a conflict of interest and should be addressed at a later meeting.
“I think the conflict of interest issue between members of the panel, the chair of the panel, and the administrator in question, when it is against an administrator, is critical to solve soon,” Lippert said.