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The Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs met in a hybrid format on Monday evening to discuss the search for a new University President, revitalization of the University of Michigan’s American Association of University Professors (AAUP) chapter, and the approval of new terminology surrounding inclusion.
In October, University President Mark Schlissel announced plans to step down from his position as University President in June 2023, a year before his contract is due to expire. Schlissel shared on Twitter that he feels announcing his resignation now will allow for a smooth transition in finding a new president.
Kentaro Toyama, SACUA representative and Information professor, and June Howard, professor of American Culture and English, said it is important to include as many faculty opinions in the search for a new president as possible to ensure equal representation.
“For our next president, I think we want to be very early to the discussion so that before they announce the format, we can at least have solid faculty representation on it,” Toyama said.
SACUA members also debated whether or not to approve a proposal to update the University’s policy on felony disclosure for employees. Currently, the policy states that those with felony charges or convictions must disclose them to the University in order to keep their job.
The governing body also discussed the possibility of reintroducing the AAUP to the University. The AAUP has been a voice for faculty independent of the administration on the University’s campus since its inception in 1915. In 2010, the AAUP chapter at Michigan ended due to a decrease in active members.
Toyama and Howard are currently working to establish the AAUP again and met with SACUA to discuss rebooting the organization and having the University formally recognize the chapter. Howard told SACUA that she feels as if the University is missing a tool for a strong faculty voice by no longer having an active AAUP chapter.
“One reason I wanted to announce AAUP to SACUA before anybody else was basically to make sure that our ties to you are strongest,” Toyama said. “At SACUA, we have to be reasonably protective of our relationship with the administration. I know there’s a point on which all of us have different places where we stand, but it’s a relationship we can’t thoroughly destroy.”
Mark Allison, chair of the Committee for Fairness, Equity, and Inclusion (CFEI), met with SACUA to discuss updates to the definition of inclusion. Allison said CFEI found the past verbiage of inclusion to be too passive, and he hoped a better definition would be the stepping stone for further activities.
“This is pretty much the first step in a larger effort to look into some policies or propose some policies to have the University be more inclusive and more diverse,” Allison said. “Right now, we’re looking into metrics for inclusivity. That’s why at this juncture, it was important for us to propose new language.”
The newly proposed definition adjusts the language of the original definition.
“We commit to ensuring that our campus is a place where differences are welcomed, different perspectives are respected, and every individual has equal access to opportunities and resources,” the new definition reads. “After some adjustments made by SACUA, the new definition was approved and will be sent back to CFEI for the decision on the final wording.
Daily Staff Reporter Isabella Kassa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.