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.
Sean DeMonner, the information systems executive director of teaching and learning, highlighted the need for more faculty training and discussed the migration from CTools to Canvas with the the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs Monday.
The committee also addressed German Prof. Silke-Maria Weineck and Sport Management Prof. Stefan Szymanski’s terms on the committee, which will end early due to Winter Break. No final decision could be made, as it is not under SACUA’s jurisdiction, according to LSA Representative and Biology Prof. John Lehman.
“It’s actually not SACUA’s decision to make,” Lehman said. “It’s the Senate Assembly’s decision to make, but in the case of somebody who is not going to complete their term, there is precedent for going down the hierarchy of votes. In terms of temporary replacement, we don’t really have precedent for that.”
The gender imbalance of SACUA was a key issue in the discussion of Weineck’s and Szymanski’s replacements. According to David Wright, associate professor of accounting, said the committee fears it is missing an opportunity to diversify the members because Weineck, one of the only two women on SACUA, is leaving.
“There is already a gender imbalance in SACUA and we don’t want to worsen that,” Wright said. “It may come close to looking like a quota, but perhaps we should consider taking gender into account.”
Ultimately, SACUA agreed on four possible courses of action that will be presented to the Senate Assembly: leave SACUA as a seven-person committee until the next formal election, fill the two vacant seats with the runners-up of the previous election, hold a formal election for the two seats or fill only one of the seats.
The discussion will be continued and voted upon at the next Senate Assembly meeting on December 12.
In his remarks, DeMonner shifted the conversation to the migration from CTools to Canvas, which is scheduled to be completely finished by the end of fall 2017. While DeMonner said he was confident in the success of Canvas and other programs that the University of Michigan has contracted, such as Box, some SACUA members expressed concern regarding the programs.
“I think the system sucks,” said David Potter, professor of classical studies. “The reason we’re using (Box) is because we’re not able to use CTools and we’re being shoved into a system that doesn’t seem to be as functional as the old system.”
Szymanski, who also frequently uses Box, an online file sharing and project management tool, was surprised that it is being used for anything more than information sharing.
“It’s a sharing device, isn’t it?” Szymanski asked. “It’s not a device for filtering information. I’m just shocked to hear it’s being used for administrative purposes. I use it all the time for storing data and sharing with researchers. Are you kidding me, that it has an administrative function?”
DeMonner’s overall response to the concerns was that any problems associated with these new programs can be attributed to a lack of knowledge about how to use them, making better training the solution.
“There could be problems with any of these programs if they are misused, but that’s more of a training problem than an intrinsic problem with the program,” DeMonner said.