Senate Assembly members got a glimpse of the future during their monthly meeting at the Business School on Monday, hearing from both University President Mary Sue Coleman in her inaugural address to the group and candidates running for seats on the University Board of Regents in the Nov. 5 election.

Paul Wong
University President Mary Sue Coleman addresses the Faculty Senate Assembly for the first time Monday afternoon.

“I think that her speech was very informative for the faculty,” said Jack Gobetti, vice chair of the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs, the leadership body of the Senate. Gobetti said he was especially impressed with Coleman’s knowledge of the University after serving as President for only 10 weeks.

She gave her perspective as a newcomer and mentioned a variety of campus issues, including last weekend’s Second National Student Conference on the Palestine Solidarity Movement, the Life Sciences Institute, the permanent appointment of Provost Paul Courant, the University budget and the lawsuits facing the University regarding the use of race in admissions at the Law School and the College of Literature, Science and the Arts.

Coleman said the University worked hard this weekend to keep the campus safe for conference attendees.

“The University must be a place where any person is free to express any opinion on any subject,” she said, adding that the conference seemed to have gone smoothly.

In discussing the lawsuit facing the Law School, Coleman cited the ruling from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals stating that the admissions policy was fair and just. “I’m very proud to be a part of the defense of our principles,” Coleman said.

Coleman also said it is most important “to keep recruiting the best and brightest scholars” and to “enhance the undergraduate experience” when asked about her vision for the University’s future. Coleman said she was particularly impressed with the ability of the different departments on campus to work together on interdisciplinary initiatives.

Following Coleman’s address, a forum was held for University Board of Regents candidates, in which those running fielded a variety of questions regarding the role of a regent and their plans if elected.

“The questions made it pretty clear who had some kind of real grasp of the issues,” said a faculty member who requested to remain anonymous.

University alum David Boyle said the questions allowed the candidates to disclose more about their personal lives. He also found it encouraging that a number of students plan to run for the positions.

The Senate Assembly is made up of 72 elected faculty members from the Ann Arbor, Flint and Dearborn campuses. They represent the interests and concerns of faculty members throughout the University system.

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