At its meeting on Thursday, the University’s Board of Regents will consider a proposal by University Provost Philip Hanlon to extend the maximum allowed tenure probationary period.

After months of debate, Hanlon sent an e-mail yesterday to faculty announcing his decision to move forward with the proposal. Currently, the faculty governing body of each school and college decides the length of the tenure probationary period they use, bound by a limit set by Regent Bylaw 5.09. The proposed change would increase the limit from a maximum of eight years to a maximum of ten years.

The proposal is not meant to change tenure requirements, but to allow more flexibility for tenure-track faculty. The change was initially proposed in a 2006 report from the Committee to Consider a More Flexible Tenure Probationary Period, a faculty advisory committee that reported its findings to the provost.

In March, the University Senate voted 51-66 against endorsing the extension of the probationary period. Professors offered opposing viewpoints about the extension, which some worried would delay granting tenure to faculty unnecessarily.

In February, the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs — the leading faculty governing body on campus — called for a change that would allow an extension of the period on an individual basis. The proposal highlighted the “check box to stop the clock” method, which would make the procedure for increasing the probationary period easier than the current method of filing for individual extension.

SACUA Chair Ed Rothman said at the time that the body would be open to revisions to the proposal.

Though SACUA members proposed at its meeting last week to issue a poll to ask faculty about their views on the probationary period extension, the motion was withdrawn.

Hanlon’s proposal is meant to specifically help Medical School faculty, who are often rushed by the eight-year period. At the February Board of Regents meeting, several Medical School faculty voiced their support for the extension of the probationary period, listing research issues and personal plans as obstacles in meeting the current maximum tenure clock of a seven-year probationary period and one terminal year.

However, during a two-week period for public comment in February, a variety of opinions were received on the issue, with many comments also in strong opposition. In his recent e-mail to University faculty, Hanlon addressed these opinions and said he considered their points while reaching his decision to propose the changes to the regents.

Regents to consider Phoenix Memorial Building renovation, plans for new North Campus support facility

At their meeting this week, the regents will also consider a proposal to renovate the second floor of the Michigan Memorial Phoenix Library and add on to the facility.

The renovation will update the laboratory space to support the Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute through a 10,000-square-foot renovation and a 10,000-square-foot addition.

At the September 2010 Board of Regents meeting, the regents approved the schematic design for the project. The project will include a replacement of the building’s electrical substation and is estimated to cost nearly $11.1 million.

The regents will also consider a proposal to proceed with the construction of the North Campus Support Facility, which will help to provide support for research computing and data storage by the University’s Information and Technology Services.

ITS has recommended a 700-square-foot modular data center near the University’s Transportation Research Institute, which will provide necessary repair equipment as well as mechanical, electrical and data infrastructure. The estimated cost of the project is $6.2 million.

Regents to discuss new joint master’s degree between School of Information and School of Public Health

On Thursday, the regents will also consider an action request to offer a new joint master’s degree in the School of Information and the School of Public Health, as well as a Graduate Certificate Program in Health Informatics.

The objective of the new joint degree is to train experts who will be able to approach health information technologies through a human-centered approach. The proposed program will require 52 credits and will be intended to be completed over for two years of full-time study. In addition, students will be able to take six courses for 18 credits to achieve the health informatics graduate certificate.

If the programs are approved, enrollment for the master’s degree program would be scheduled to start in fall 2012, while the graduate certificate enrollment would be intended to start this fall.

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