SACUA responds to Schlissel's appointment

By Andrew Almani, Daily Staff Reporter
Published January 24, 2014

Members of the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs met the appointment of Brown University Provost Mark Schlissel as the University’s 14th president with optimism, though many highlighted an absence of faculty input on the Presidential Advisory Search Committee.

SACUA — a nine-member faculty executive committee elected by the Senate Assembly — voiced disappointment in September about the lack of SACUA representatives on the presidential search committee. The committee, which was formed in July, comprised solely of the University’s Board of Regents and eight faculty members, none of whom serve on SACUA.

“Since SACUA had no involvement with the presidential search, we are not yet informed about the president-elect's unique qualifications,” said Astronomy Prof. Sally Oey, a SACUA member. “We trust that he is an exceptional leader and we are excited to meet him and look forward to working with him.”

Physics Prof. Finn Larsen, another SACUA member, shared similar sentiments regarding the faculty’s lack of prior information about the decision.

“This announcement is as much news to me as it is to the general public,” Larsen said. “In this situation I look forward to learn more about the new president and his vision for the University of Michigan.”

In February of 2012, SACUA passed a resolution urging the Board of Regents to ensure representatives from the assembly would have seats on the search committee.

The board disregarded the resolution, as they announced the members of the committee in July of 2013 without appointing any assembly members.

SACUA responded with another resolution over the summer expressing their “disappointment” with the regents’ decision.

However, Regent Andrea Fischer Newman (R), chair of the Board of Regents, spoke of faculty involvement in the search process during the board’s special meeting Friday morning.

“On July 18, 2013, the regents announced the appointment of a presidential advisory search committee ... that included the entire board of regents and a truly outstanding set of faculty members,” Newman said. “I want to personally thank the faculty members of the Presidential Search Advisory Committee. This powerhouse group of distinguished faculty played a vital role in the selection process, and served as representatives of the faculty as a whole.”

In the beginning of his address Friday, Schlissel stressed the value of the University’s faculty.

“I look forward to working with more than the 3,000 outstanding faculty at the university and will be honored to be counted amongst their ranks,” Schlissel said. “Faculty define the strength of the university and share responsibility for its governance.”

Despite SACUA’s criticism of the search process, Dentistry Prof. Rex Holland, SACUA vice chair, expressed excitement about Schlissel’s appointment.

“I'm very impressed with President-elect Schlissel’s credentials,” Holland said. “I personally like his background in biological sciences. His speech was short but contained several very positive references to faculty governance. I have great confidence that President-elect Schlissel will be a splendid leader for a splendid institution.”