University Provost Phil Hanlon spoke before the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs — the University’s leading faculty governance body — Monday to answer questions regarding the administration’s budget preparations before the June meeting of the University’s Board of Regents and the ongoing process of approving the promotion of tenure-track faculty.
Hanlon, who will depart the University to become president of Dartmouth College in May, opened his comments by expressing optimism for the future of the University and its long-term financial sustainability.
“The last 10 years have been fabulous for the University of Michigan,” Hanlon said. “In a very tough environment, we have continued to succeed and improve.”
Hanlon said his office is preparing to put a budget recommendation before the board in June. The board will approve the annual budget, as well as any commensurate tuition increases, at that meeting.
Hanlon also spoke on the ongoing process of approving promotions of tenure-track faculty, as faculty promotions must be approved by both the academic unit and the administration. SACUA has previously discussed this topic with the University ombuds and others.
“(The) preponderance of them are fabulous,” Hanlon said. “It is really fun to read them and figure out what everyone is doing.”
He added that the administration works to discuss decisions with individual academic units if there are differing opinions concerning the readiness of faculty for promotion.
SACUA drafts diversity statement
SACUA also worked on a draft of a statement on diversity that would have been approved by the Senate Assembly. After being adopted by the Senate Assembly, the diversity statement would be a goal of the faculty and the administration.
SACUA members did not approve the drafted diversity statement, and the body sent the draft back to the Committee on University Values and the Committee for an Inclusive University.
The draft stressed the need for diversity at the University and called for the administration to dedicate significant resources and measures to improve diversity.
While many SACUA members said they agreed with the sentiment of the measure, they had disagreements over the language used and initiatives it proposed.
Engineering Prof. Rachel Goldman said the statement should take into account the diversity initiatives that are already ongoing at the University, as well as make suggestions on how the faculty can contribute to making a more diverse community.
“We can come at this with supporting what the University is already doing,” Goldman said. “Anything we suggest beyond that should be in that same flavor.”
Physics Prof. Finn Larsen said the committees should also work on an addendum that encourages supporting students from different socioeconomic and racial backgrounds. Other members of SACUA agreed with his comments and discussed options to support students from disparate backgrounds.
Engineering Prof. Kimberlee Kearfott, the chair of SACUA, added that the main purpose of the statement should be about providing a diverse community where student could learn from the differences they have from other students.
After a redraft of the statement that will factor in the comments from SACUA members, the statement will again be considered.