To keep up with ever-increasing globalization, the University is jumpstarting its communications strategies for international outreach.

Lisa Rudgers, vice president for global communications and strategic initiatives, spoke yesterday before the Senate Assembly about the changing landscape of the University’s communications initiatives. The assembly also discussed resolutions to expand the voting system for the Faculty Senate and changing term limits for some members.

Rudgers told the 74-person faculty governing body that the University needs more glogal news content and multimedia, such as videos and strong visuals, to go along with news stories. To fulfill these needs, the News Service hired a Mandarin speaker this year to help the office direct an international program that will involve translating stories into Mandarin for the global Michigan site.

Rudgers also addressed the need for multimedia with an international focus.

“We live in a world, as sad as it may be, with an often short attention span,” Rudgers said. “So the ability for us to tell a story quickly and with impact matters. And today, that often means with terrific visuals, with a great graphic presentation and with video.”

Rudgers stressed that there is a high demand from University faculty members and schools for the News Service to communicate their research to a larger audience.

“It’s clear the demand for us to tell our stories and for individual schools and colleges and faculty members to tell their stories is just huge,” she said.

Rudgers served as the University’s vice president for communications from 2000 to 2007. Last spring, University President Mary Sue Coleman asked her to return to the position. Coleman wanted her to address the tremendous change in the “scale and scope and demand for communications globally” since she last worked at the University.

“In the wintertime of 2007, there were about 28 million people on Facebook. Now, last month, 850 million,” Rudgers said. “The explosion of social media and our ubiquitous use of it has really changed the way people like me do our jobs.”

Assembly passes resolution to expand faculty engagement

Later in the meeting, the Senate Assembly passed a resolution aimed at expanding the level of engagement in faculty governance by allowing the Faculty Senate — a group of about 3,000 faculty members including all professors —to vote on certain issues determined by the Senate Assembly. The resolution also approved the use of an electronic voting system.

Ed Rothman, a former Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs chair and professor of statistics, said he fully supports the resolution.

“I’m very much in favor of this. I think we need to empower all of the members of the senate – 3,000 or so of us – to take part in this process,” Rothman said. “It’ll make our jobs more important and more visible in a very positive way.”

Rachel Goldman, a SACUA member and professor of engineering and physics, said she supports the resolution but sees the loss of control as a potential drawback.

“If we adopt electronic voting for full senate issues, we would possibly lose a little bit of control in favor of democracy,” Goldman said.

SACUA member John Lehman, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, said he believes there could be problems implementing the resolution because volunteers would be needed to organize the online voting process. Previously they used paper ballots.

Assembly passes resolution changing chair terms

The Senate Assembly passed a resolution adding on to the existing term limits for SACUA members.

The original policy stated that there is a one-year limitation for holding the SACUA chair position and a three-year term limit for SACUA and Senate Assembly members. With the resolution, the one-year limitation is extended to the vice chair and the three-year limit is extended to the Senate Secretary, who could previously serve for one year.

SACUA Vice Chair Kim Kearfott, a professor in the Medical School and College of Engineering, said she supports the motion even though it means she will give up her position next year.

“I am the one person who is immediately affected by this, and I think it’s a really good idea because it makes sure there’s a turnover in people and that people don’t get entrenched in their various positions,” Kearfott said.

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