Information professor Kentaro Toyoma attends the SACUA meeting October 31. Grace Lahti/Daily. Buy this photo.

The Senate Advisory Committee of University Affairs (SACUA) met this week in the Alexander G. Ruthven Building to discuss the availability and quality of public information online as meeting minutes — which are written up notes of the meeting discussions — as well as the University of Michigan’s support for research-track faculty and childcare.

LSA professor Silvia Pedraza, SACUA chair, called the meeting to order and discussed a motion to better record information from Senate Committee Meetings, including SACUA, in the form of meeting minutes.

Information professor Kentaro Toyoma restated two premises from the last discussion. The first was about Senate Committee liaisons, and their responsibilities to report meeting minutes back to SACUA. This point was reiterated by associate philosophy professor Simon Cushing at University of Michigan-Flint and Art & Design professor Rebekah Modrak, who discussed the importance of high-quality minutes for the SACUA membership.

“The liaisons (are) allowed to discuss what they hear in Faculty Senate meetings and SACUA,” Toyoma said. “Reasonably good summaries of the session should be captured.”

Later in the meeting, Engineering professor Michael Atzmon made a related assertion that minutes should include “more meaningful communication,” which Pedraza pointed out to be possibly too broad to vote on. Pedraza moved to change the assertion afterward before the motion went up for a vote at the end of the meeting. 

“Senate Assembly committees should capture meaningful content of meanings in a paragraph,” Pedraza said. “My point is that it should be brief.”  

SACUA then met in an executive session to discuss faculty mental health. After the executive session, the committee transitioned to discussing motions from 2021.

Luke McCarthy, director of the Faculty Senate Office, then led a discussion on the differences between research and tenure faculty, especially regarding the difference in support networks. 

“Research-track faculty may not have the same support that is afforded tenure-track faculty,” McCarthy said. 

Subsequently, Pedraza recalled a previous motion about access to childcare resources on campus. She specifically recalled a proposed change in childcare policy at the Medical School, and suggested expanding access across Central Campus and North Campus as well. However, Pedraza said she has previously faced resistance from University administration. 

“The more that we have young women faculty, the more it is important,” Pedraza said. “We’ve tried (moving forward) in the past, but (former University President) Mary Sue Coleman was not interested.”  

SACUA returned to the previous motions regarding keeping a better quality record of minutes at the end of the meeting. Toyoma put forward a motion to vote on the issue. 

“Senate Assembly committees should strive to record good summaries of the discussions held in their meetings for the public record except in executive sessions,” Toyoma said. 

This motion was then passed by the committee, a decision called by McCarthy. 

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