Senate Assembly talks tri-campus faculty collaboration, academic freedom lecture, investigation conduct

Monday, February 18, 2019 - 10:26pm

U-M Flint professor Sarah Lippert presents a resolution on the principles of due process at the Senate Assembly meeting Monday in the Michigan League.

U-M Flint professor Sarah Lippert presents a resolution on the principles of due process at the Senate Assembly meeting Monday in the Michigan League. Buy this photo
Sarah Kunkel/Daily

The University of Michigan Senate Assembly held its monthly meeting Monday in the Michigan League, discussing the academic freedom lecture, tri-campus participation in administrative affairs and fair treatment and due diligence of conduct investigations.

Senate Assembly Chair Neil Marsh began the meeting by discussing the six nominees for the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs elections held for during the March meeting. The nominees consist of three candidates from the medical school, two from LSA and one from engineering.

The Senate Assembly then unanimously passed a resolution creating a committee for organizing the Davis, Markert, and Nickerson Academic Freedom Lecture. Marsh spoke to the tradition and legacy of the lecture.

“This is a resolution to establish a senate assembly committee charged with producing the annual Davis, Markert, and Nickerson Academic Freedom Lecture,” Marsh said. “This is an annual lecture in which we invite some prominent speaker to speak on some facet of faculty governance and academic freedom.”

A second resolution also passed regarding a tri-campus resolution to guarantee participation for all members of the University of Michigan community regardless of employment level. Sarah Lippert, Senate Assembly member and professor at U-M Flint, described the resolution’s importance for all faculty members.

“The resolution is essentially to help faculty across the three campuses to be guaranteed the opportunity to participate in shared governance at the various levels where they serve,” Lippert said. “What we discovered in our research is that the different naming of faculty responsibility whether its program, department … there is confusion that’s arisen about the right of faculty to be consulted on the faculty governance matters.”

Senate Assembly approved a third resolution guaranteeing faculty fair treatment and transparency regarding the new policy on felony self-disclosure. Lippert explained how the resolution outlines minimum standards and the rights to due diligence in investigations regarding conduct.

“We would like to clarify the rights of faculty to fair treatment and transparency and due diligence when they are going through situations regarding their conduct,” Lippert said. “SACUA has seen a lot of concerns come about this year related to due process and we’re not always able to help faculty in those circumstances, unless they use the available grievance procedures.

The assembly agreed to allow electronic absentee voting during meetings. Marsh elaborated on how the process would work when emergencies prevent quorum at assembly meetings.

“The purpose of this rule change is to allow us to conduct electronic absentee voting, put questions, resolutions, possibly elections online” Marsh said. “Sometimes we don’t have a quorum and that can be a problem because we can’t vote on things, other times things happen that I as senate chair or SACUA think the Senate Assembly should really weigh in on this issue, a fast-moving issue, and we don’t have any way for you guys to express an opinion.”

Guest speaker Ravi Pendse, vice president for information technology and chief information officer at the University, elaborated on what new technologies and greater cooperation with IT could mean for University faculty and students. Pendse envisions future IT policy seamlessly connecting different interfaces for faculty and students.

“Depending on who you are, what your role is, you should be able to seamlessly connect to different systems without having to go through a lot of challenges,” Pendse said. “We don’t currently have that, but we are thinking about it and moving towards it.”