The University Insider is The Daily’s first faculty and staff-oriented newsletter. This weekly newsletter will give U-M faculty and staff the ability to see the most important issues on campus and in Ann Arbor — particularly those related to administrative decisions — from the perspective of an independent news organization. It will also provide a better understanding of student perspectives.
The University of Michigan Board of Regents met virtually on Thursday to discuss the University’s new plans to reach carbon neutrality. Regent Katherine White (D) was not in attendance and Regent Ron Weiser (R) arrived after roll call.
University President Mark Schlissel announced that the University released its plans to reach full carbon neutrality across all three U-M campuses. The plan is based on recommendations from the President’s Commission on Carbon Neutrality (PCCN), which released a final report with recommendations in March.
“This carbon neutrality commitment is comprehensive,” Schlissel said. “Spanning our $1.62 billion research enterprise, our 40 million square feet of buildings, our three campuses, athletics and Michigan Medicine.”
Regent Mark Bernstein (D) said the plans announced today help build off of the Regents’ recent decision to disinvest from fossil fuels.
“At a recent meeting, (the Regents) announced our commitment to carbon neutrality with our investment policy,” Bernstein said. “Today, we commit to carbon neutrality with regards to the operations of our university.”
LSA Professor Adam Simon, member of the Voices for Carbon Neutrality organization, spoke as a public commenter in favor of the University’s efforts towards carbon neutrality. But although Simon said he supports their initiative, he believes the timeline is not moving fast enough.
“We are pleased with your announcement today regarding scopes 1, 2 and 3 emissions,” Simon said. “However, the proposed timeline demonstrates that U-M is not moving at scale with the urgency the climate crisis demands.”
University alum Jane Vogel, a member of the Voices for Carbon Neutrality organization, reiterated this sentiment. She said the University is on a strong path, but needs to continue moving forward with fierce urgency.
“(The commitments) can put Michigan on a path to (being the) Leaders and Best, and they are what the climate crisis calls for,” Vogel said. “This is about pace. U-M has to move with fierce urgency now.”
In addition to comments regarding the University’s Carbon Neutrality plan, many public comments expressed concerns regarding the unequal pay between faculty across all three U-M campuses. Faculty members at the Ann Arbor campus are currently receiving higher paychecks than the other campuses, with the current minimum being $51,000 as opposed to $41,000 at the Dearborn and Flint campuses.
School of Information lecturer Bobby Madamanchi expressed concerns with the payment inequality and emphasized that a professor’s job is important because it creates a positive and engaging learning environment for students. However, Madamanchi said professors are unable to devote all of their time and energy to their students when they have to seek out other jobs in order to compensate for the salary disparity at U-M.
“Lecturer working conditions are student learning conditions,” Madamanchi said. “(Lecturers) are entrusted with teaching over half of the first and second-year courses… as teaching-focused faculty, we are positioned to prioritize their education. But can lecturers do that effectively if they are looking at job ads, or struggling with over-work?”
Schlissel ended the meeting by encouraging everybody in the U-M community to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Schlissel said that more than 11,000 U-M students have reported getting a COVID-19 vaccine so far.
“I thank the more than 11,000 U-M students who have submitted their COVID-19 vaccine status to the University,” Schlissel said. “This will tremendously help us as we continue to strive to return to a more residential experience on campus and more normal activities in our lives … . Please, don’t miss your shot.”
Daily Staff Reporters Justin O’Beirne and Kaitlyn Luckoff can be reached at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org