Posted Monday, Dec. 17

In response to University President Mary Sue Coleman’s plan to add 100 faculty over the next five years, the University’s main faculty governing body passed a resolution Monday encouraging the University to consider diversity when hiring these new professors.

The resolution, passed by the University faculty Senate Assembly at its monthly meeting, recommends that “consistent with governing law, diversity be an integral component in the recruitment, hiring and retention processes” for the new positions described in President Coleman’s “Five Years Forward” address last month.

The Senate Assembly Committee for a Multicultural University, a faculty committee that addresses issues concerning faculty discrimination and diversity at the University, wrote the original resolution.

Chemistry Prof. Billy Joe Evans, chair of SACMU, said the committee proposed the resolution as a way of promoting diversity in faculty hiring before the University began filling the new faculty positions.

The resolution underwent several revisions because some Senate Assembly members felt the original wording written by SACMU suggested that the administration should ignore last year’s passage of Proposal 2, which prohibits public institutions in the state of Michigan from using race- and gender-based affirmative action.

“It (the resolution) appears to be urging the university to consider factors like race that are prohibited from certain kinds of consideration under the Michigan Constitution as would be amended,” said Law School Prof. Richard Primus.

In response, Law School Prof. Richard Friedman suggested that the resolution include the phrase “consistent with governing law” so that it didn’t appear as if the University was skirting state law.

Ultimately, the Senate Assembly voted in favor of adding the phrase.

Slavic Languages Prof. Herbert Eagle, who is part of the Senate Assembly but not SACMU, disagreed with the revisions to the resolution, saying it would raise questions about the legality of the University’s other policies promoting diversity.

“We would in fact be raising more question whether the University is honestly following the law than we would be dismissing them by adding a sentence like this,” Eagle said.

Evans said he thought that SACMU would be pleased with the amount of discussion regarding diversity and was comfortable with the changes made to the resolution during the meeting.

“The committee has no problem with the revision,” he said. “We’re happy.”

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