In her first official meeting with the faculty’s governing body, University President Mary Sue Coleman met with the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs yesterday at their weekly meeting to discuss issues ranging from the relationship between the University’s different campuses, to the undergraduate experience and funding for the developing Life Sciences Institute.

Paul Wong
University President Mary Sue Coleman talks with members of the Senate Advisory Committee for University Affairs yesterday at their weekly meeting.

SACUA Vice Chair John Gobetti said he feels that SACUA will have a better working relationship with Coleman, who accompanied SACUA on their annual retreat over the summer, than with past presidents.

“She is very perceptive of University affairs and University and staff needs. I’ve been very impressed by her, more so than I was with Lee Bollinger,” he said.

Gobetti said he most admired Coleman’s openness and working style, which Coleman said consisted of first gathering data and information, then checking her sources, making a decision and moving on.

A major concern among faculty members at the meeting was funding for the Life Sciences Institute, which could potentially be affected by the upcoming ballot proposal, Coleman said.

“I’m quite concerned about the economy of the state right now … and I don’t know what the impact on the University will be,” Coleman said.

When it comes to undergraduate students, Coleman said she will be reviewing the President’s Commission on the Undergraduate Experience and would discuss what she thinks are major concerns with SACUA in the future.

“I think it’s certainly important to keep our eye on the undergraduate experience,” Coleman said.

Gobetti agreed that the University’s focus should be on undergraduates and said he was especially impressed by Coleman’s emphasis that the Life Sciences Institute would include a facility for teaching undergraduates.

Coleman said she would ultimately like to involve a wide range of students and faculty from various departments in the LSI, adding the purpose of the LSI is to enhance the teaching of undergraduates, as well as become “part of the fabric” of the University.

“I think she is a much better commitment to undergraduate education than I’ve seen in a long time. She’s committed to everything the University needs,” Gobetti said.

Coleman and SACUA also discussed the interrelationship between the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses. Coleman described a recent trip to the Flint campus that gave her the opportunity to speak to many of the faculty and students, and commented on the difference in the student population when compared to the students in Ann Arbor.

In general, Coleman said the students there are older and have more complex family situations, such as having to raise children while attending school, which need to be addressed.

Coleman said she plans on taking a similar tour of the Dearborn campus.

Other issues addressed were the new contract between the University and the Graduate Employees Organization and the role of SACUA and MSA in helping Coleman in the future.

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