Schlissel discusses public engagement, honor code with SACUA
University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel joined the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs on Monday to discuss faculty engagement with the public, the tenure process for faculty, the incorporation of a University-wide honor code and new Internet security protocols for faculty members.
Addressing the committee, Schlissel also expressed a desire to increase the visibility of the University's value of the local, state and national communities through forms of faculty engagement such as public lectures and expert testimonies at congressional hearings. Schlissel emphasized, that rather than mandate engagement, he would prefer to incentivize it.
The committee additionally listened to Schlissel's proposal for a University-wide honor code. Currently, honor codes are unique to each individual college within the University. Central Student Government has been working throughout this past year to create a University-wide honor code. An amendment to the Student Rights and Responsibilities Statement by CSG to implement such a code was rejected in this year's amendment process.
Schlissel said he would like to see the implementation of a universal student honor code.
"When you have the values written down on a piece of paper, I think it actually does lift up everyone's behavior," Schlissel said.
Schlissel said he had read drafts for an overarching honor code, but they were not ambitious enough. He also encouraged cooperation between students and faculty in the creation of the potential honor code.
"I think it would be an interesting collaboration to really result in something aspirational," Schlissel said.
Prompted by Schlissel, the committee also discussed possible revisions to the tenure process, with Schlissel saying he believes the question of tenure for faculty should be based primarily on the value of their scholarship and research.
Schlissel also noted a recent focus of the media on a lack of diversity of political thought at universities across the country, and the committee explored ways to address the University's own lack of diversity of opinion. The committee rdecided not to consider changing hiring practices specifically to create an ideological balance on the faculty, but agreed that they should search for other ways to eliminate political bias in teaching.
"If we're a marketplace of ideas, I'd like to think of ways to expand the marketplace," Schlissel said.
Schlissel hailed the recent debate between conservative author Dinesh D'Souza and liberal activist Bill Ayers, as well as the upcoming commencement speech from Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York City, as effective ways of promoting diversity of thought.
Donald Welch, the University's chief information security officer, was also present at the meeting and briefed the committee on the upcoming incorporation of two-factor authentication for faculty starting in the fall 2016 semester.
Two-factor authentication involves the use of a password as well as one other gateway to log into online accounts. The second gateway is, most often, confirmation via smartphone. The new system would replace the University's current MToken system for faculty.
Welch observed that research universities are frequent targets for foreign intelligence agencies, cyber-criminals and "hacktivists." He emphasized that the two-factor authentication system is designed to protect the privacy of faculty members without intruding on their privacy.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story suggested that Schlissel and SACUA discussed measures to make tenure more difficult to obtain, which was an innacurate characterization of their comments.