University Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs Gil Omenn visited the University Senate Assembly yesterday, telling them the Life Sciences Initiative is “overall a truly good thing” and it will result in “a kind of connection across the campus.”

Omenn said the Michigan state government is interested in the LSI program because the focus of sciences in this century has moved toward biological sciences, whereas the past few centuries have been focused on the physical sciences.

The state government looks at LSI in terms of “what could be an investment for the state. This country is more likely to be shaped by biological sciences. We were able to convince the governor”s advising committee that this would be a worthy investment for the state,” Omenn said. In the state legislature”s discussions of the Life Sciences Initiative, he said, “There was very strong bipartisan support.”

Members of the Senate Assembly asked Omenn whether LSI will include a push for patents and industry partnerships.

Omenn said although the state is very interested in potential partnerships with industry, “the role of industry will be quite modest.”

Omenn also spoke about shortages in the nursing and pharmaceutical departments in the University Health System. He said finding staff members is a major mission.

“There is a shortage among nurses. There”s a recent shortage in pharmacy. There is a need for a lot of attention about these excellent careers in the health profession,” Omenn said, adding that the University Medical Center would prefer to have the staffing matter arranged so nurses do not have to work overtime.

Omenn said the University will consider adding five extra points to undergraduate applicants on their application if they indicate they plan to pursue nursing as a career. The University currently uses an admissions system in which it awards applicants points in various academic and non-academic categories such as grade point average and athletic involvement.

He said another concern the University Medical School faces in the next year is a shortage of space.

“I”m very aware about space at the Medical School. We”re nearly out of space. We”re strapped. Our buildings are packed. The big biomedical science research grant will permit us to take out much of the Kresge Complex” to build a new complex, Omenn said.

Physiology Prof. Lou D”Alecy also spoke to the Senate Assembly about the pending motion in the Assembly requesting that the Provost “form a joint faculty and administration committee to draft a modification of the grievance procedures to address these apparent shortcomings.”

D”Alecy told the assembly that the current grievance procedure calls for the grievance to be presented to the dean of the college to which the grieving faculty member belongs. The problem with the current procedure, D”Alecy said, is the faculty member is often grieving against the dean.

In the current procedure, there is no way around the faculty member”s grievance passing through the dean.

D”Alecy said the flaw in the procedure was recognized in the drafting of the procedure, but it was never resolved.

“It was the best, we the faculty, could extract from the administration at the time. You”re grieving against the person who is ultimately deciding the grievance. It”s not working and it”s time for us to revisit it,” D”Alecy said.

D”Alecy said another problem with the current grievance procedure is that the Grievance Review Board does not have the authority to make a decision, they can only make a recommendation.

“The GBR doesn”t have any authority,” so people don”t want to serve on it, D”Alecy said.

He said the faculty does not trust the University grievance procedure faculty members are instead finding alternatives to the procedure.

“What”s happening is more and more people just to go lawyers. The problem with going to a lawyer is you”re paying for it out of your own pocket,” D”Alecy said.

D”Alecy said this was another major flaw, because in an institution such as the University, a solid grievance procedure should be offered to the faculty.

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