1. February 2015

    March 13, 2015

    Faculty Governance: Current Issues

    The Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs (SACUA) is the executive arm of the University Senate and of the Senate Assembly. On behalf of the Assembly, SACUA advises and consults with the President, Provost, and the Executive Officers of the University on matters of University policy. SACUA works to safeguard faculty interests and to communicate faculty concerns to the University’s central administration. Below is an overview of this year’s agenda, followed by some information faculty might find useful. For a record of SACUA and Senate Assembly meetings, please click on the buttons at the bottom of this mail. We welcome feedback, concerns and suggestions, which you can direct to facultysenateoffice@umich.edu

    Fitness for Duty

    There is, at present, no separate policy that would allow the administration to assess a faculty member’s “fitness for duty” and to respond adequately if a faculty member’s capacity to perform his or her duties has come under question. The central administration is proposing an addition to the Standard Practice Guide to address such cases.  SACUA is working with the Provost’s office to ensure that any such policy would protect the rights and interests of faculty (including their financial interests) and would only apply in cases of clearly established medical impairment and not be broadened to include more general notions of “fitness” that could potentially be abused. In SACUA’s view, it is particularly important that any review of a faculty member’s fitness for duty include provisions for peer review and that a future policy not be used to circumvent tenure protections.

    Related policies: Current U-M Fitness for Duty SPG (applies to faculty and staff)U-M Professional Standards for Faculty SPG

    Confidentiality Agreements

    Faculty members are often called to serve on committees or advisory boards that develop and review policies and procedures or that render professional judgments.  SACUA believes that all such committees should operate with transparency. Motivated in part by a sweeping confidentiality agreement imposed on members of the Advisory Board on Intercollegiate Athletics, SACUA proposed and the Senate Assembly approved a resolution on confidentiality at the Assembly’s February meeting. While certain matters that come up for discussion– such as personnel decisions or other personal or protected matters – should and must be discussed confidentially, SACUA believes that confidentiality should only be invoked for compelling reasons and after committee deliberation – it should never be the default. Accordingly, SACUA discourages faculty from signing agreements or agreeing orally not to disclose committee activities as a whole, and we are asking that faculty inform SACUA if broad confidentiality restrictions are presented as a condition of membership on such committees. We are pleased to report that, following discussions, the administration has vacated the existing ABIA confidentiality agreements and adopted in their place a confidentiality policy consistent with the Assembly’s recommendation.

    Click here for the text of the Resolution. See here for the AAUP statement on Confidentiality and Faculty Representation in Academic Governance

    Office for Institutional Equity: Report on Faculty Concerns 

    The Office for Institutional Equity is responsible for “promoting and furthering the University’s commitment to diversity and equal opportunity for all members of its community.” As part of that role, the office investigates complaints of harassment and discrimination and reports its findings to unit administrators, such as the deans of the schools and colleges.  Recent complaints from faculty who have been subject to OIE investigations raise concerns about whether OIE’s stated policies and practices are reliably implemented and whether they provide adequate due process in the first place.  We are dismayed, in particular, that faculty – unlike students — cannot appeal OIE’sfindings even though severe sanctions can be imposed on faculty on the basis of OIE reports.  Following a Faculty Hearing Committee investigation into the faculty complaints, SACUA has produced a detailed report on OIE’s procedures and practices, to be presented at the annual meeting of the University Senate, that calls for reform of OIE’s procedures that ensure “due process and procedural fairness, including, but not limited to, fair and adequate notice, fair investigation processes, and the ability to obtain an independent, meaningful and timely appeal of findings.”

    OIE website.

    Compensation Transparency 

    Following earlier indications of support for increased transparency in compensation, the administration notified SACUA in December that it would not release full compensation information with its annual salary report while it explored the implications of increased disclosure and the practices of peer institutions.  In keeping with SACUA’s broad commitment to transparency, we are continuing to urge the administration to make publicly available not only base salaries but the full compensation of administrators, staff, and faculty, including administrative differentials, summer salaries, bonuses, and similar salary enhancements.

    Faculty Grievance Procedures

    In 2010, the Senate Assembly approved the Model Faculty Grievance Procedure, developed in conjunction with the Provost’s Office, with the aim of providing faculty across the University of Michigan with access to a fair and equitable process to resolve grievances.  Since then, most schools and colleges have adopted the Model Procedure.  Following productive discussions betweenSACUA and unit faculty and leadership, the LSA faculty is set to vote on revision of its grievance procedure to conform with the Model Procedure — with the support of the LSA Executive Committee — at its next meeting, on Monday, 2/23, 4.10 pm.  SACUA continues to monitor the administration of grievances and to make recommendations for improvements as deficiencies with the current procedures becomes evident.  Faculty considering filing a grievance are encouraged to contact SACUA.

    More information on faculty grievance procedures here and here

    In Brief: News, Information, and Links

    Programs Involving Minors: New Policy

    At times, departments, programs, or faculty organize events attended by minors. The University has adopted a new policy for ensuring the safety of minors (under age 18) not enrolled as U-M students attending events and programs organized by departments, programs, or faculty.  UM students under 18 are covered under other, existing SPGs.


    Student Athletes: Policy on Missing Classes

    Faculty are reminded that University of Michigan intercollegiate athletic teams may miss up to nine days per semester for scheduled, regular-season competition and travel without petition.  Additional missed class days, including for outside competitions, must be approved by the Faculty Athletics Representative, Prof. Anne Curzan. See details here.


    Student Sexual Misconduct: An Update on Mandatory Reporting

    In response to a widely-reported Dear Colleague letter from the Obama Administration on Title IX requirements, the Office of General Counsel has been working to devise a policy on mandatory reporting of student sexual misconduct incidents.  Faculty can contact the Office of the General Counsel to request legal advice as to their reporting obligation.

    SACUA Meeting Minutes