The Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs spent part of their Monday session discussing the most recent Faculty Senate meeting during which a majority of the 125 faculty members in attendance voted to support delaying the release of course evaluation data.

At a SACUA meeting last month, Engineering Prof. James Holloway, the vice provost of global and engaged education, announced the University might release course evaluation data as soon as the end of this semester. Holloway’s announcement was met with surprise by SACUA members, who said they were not consulted about such a release.

SACUA Chair Silke-Maria Weineck, a professor of Comparative Literature, said Monday that she was pleased with the Faculty Senate meeting’s turnout.

“I think a lot of it was personal outreach and people talking to their friends,” she said. “And I think it was a really successful meeting; I’ve received a lot of positive comments from people saying they were impressed with the turnout, the substance of the discussion, so I think that was good.”

During last week’s Faculty Senate meeting, Central Student Government President Cooper Charlton, an LSA senior, said he was still in favor of releasing course evaluation data in time for the winter 2016 semester.

“We want this to be a collaborative effort,” Charlton said. “By no means are we here to shove your concerns into a corner and not listen to you. That being said, it’s a decision, ‘are we going to release these now or are we going to kick the can down the road?’ We see there’s two conversations going on: the immediate release of course evaluations as they stand, and the second conversation is, how can we come together, through the committee Dr. Holloway has suggested, to determine what the instrument looks like going forward?”

Weineck said she met with Charlton after the Faculty Senate vote to discuss how students and faculty could work together on the issue moving forward.

During their meeting, Weineck said she and Charlton agreed to form a committee, comprised of three faculty members and three students, to determine protocols for the eventual release of the course evaluation data. Weineck said she anticipates the committee’s work wrapping up by April 2016.  

Holloway will lead another committee — comprised of one faculty member, one student and evaluation experts — to determine whether the current course evaluation instrument is in line with best practices. If it is not, the committee will be charged with recommending a new instrument.

According to Weineck, University Provost Martha Pollack wants the issue of how and when to release course evaluation data to be decided by faculty and students.

“(Pollack) seemed very, very open to having students and faculty hash this out and not get involved, which I think is wonderful,” Weineck said.

In an October interview with The Michigan Daily, Pollack confirmed this desire for students and faculty to work together to find a solution.

SACUA members also discussed the faculty governance conference the University is scheduled to host in March. The conference will be open to faculty governance at other Big Ten schools, the University of Virginia, the University of North Carolina, the University of California, Los Angeles and the University of California, Berkeley.

Though still in the planning stages, SACUA members hope to facilitate panel discussions about the purview of faculty governance and academic freedom, among other issues.

This is the first time the University will host such a conference.

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