University President Mark Schlissel joined the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs’ meeting Monday to talk about his goal to increase collaboration among the 19 schools and colleges within the University.

“The current system and model of the traditional and decentralized leadership by means of separate schools has driven the schools to individual excellence,” Schlissel said. “We have left one more layer on top that we’ve really tried to tap into and that is the strategic collaboration between our schools.”

Schlissel also said he hopes collaboriting on issues will excite not only those inside the University, but the larger community as well.

“I value scholarship where it’s scholars talking to other scholars, because long-term insight comes out of that,” he said. “I also value scholarship that produces things that the public can understand and can really emotionally engage with.”

Schlissel said this public engagement reinforces the value of the University and informs others of what goes on at the school.

Engineering Prof. Robert Ziff, a SACUA member, said a potential initiative would need incentives and budgeting from the University.

“There have been some institutional problems with colleges because of overhead,” Ziff said. “They don’t want to share the overhead, they want to keep it. I think this is something that has to be broken down.”

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Prof. John Lehman, a SACUA member, said he agreed with Ziff, adding that he thought the idea was beneficial to the University.

“I think it’s great because we’ve got to improve the public’s perception of the academy and you’ve got to get them to understand that education here is not a private good,” Lehman said.

As well as increased collaboration, Schlissel also spoke on diversity, saying though the University has been addressing low numbers, it also needs to focus more on minority students’ experiences.

“It has to be pushed by me and it has to be enuciated as an institutional value,” Schlissel said.

Schlissel noted he has been meeting with student identity groups over the semester and felt that their sentiments toward diversity on campus have been relatively consistent.

“They don’t experience the campus in the same way that the other students do,” Schlissel said. “That’s one of my responsibilities: to figure out ways to work on our climate and to take advantage of the diversity that we’re going to build, to develop a climate where we can talk about difficult things.”

SACUA also discussed an upcoming faculty governance conference, SACUA nominations and the language for electing SACUA members. In particular, they addressed the terms of SACUA members if they decide to take a leave of absence.

The committee decided to draft two alternate policies for the latter and have them reviewed by the Rules Committee. The policies on term-return will be voted on at the next Senate Assembly meeting on Feb. 22. 

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