Professor Shultz delivered the following appreciation of Professor Lippert:
SACUA mourns the passing of our dear colleague Sarah Lippert after a brief illness. A fine scholar of faculty governance as well as Art History, Sarah chaired several important committees on the Flint Campus and was president of the local AAUP chapter there. She brought her strong advocacy to SACUA one year ago and immediately headed the Tri-Campus Committee for the Faculty Assembly. She was a champion of the underdog, challenging administrators and faculty alike that did not have her depth of knowledge on university governance regulations, procedures, and best practices. She was professional, ethical, passionate and tireless. She is admired and missed by many, even those with whom she had differences. She left us far too early, leaving big shoes to fill. It will take many people to carry on her important work
Professor Malek delivered the following appreciation of Professor Lippert:
We mourn the loss of Professor Sarah Lippert, a highly valued member of SACUA. Dr. Lippert was an engaged and fierce supporter of faculty rights, believing strongly in due process and in normative behavior. Dr. Lippert envisioned a university guided by principled interactions between university stakeholders. Her overriding goals were in making the university a better place. She displayed personal courage, civility, and grace in her pursuit and was an inspiration to SACUA and the faculty at large. She will be deeply missed.
Librarian Spencer said that Professor Lippert had been an inspiration to her.
Chair Marsh asked that SACUA observe a moment of silence in memory of Professor Lippert.
SACUA adopted the appreciations by Professors Schultz and Malek unanimously.
SACUA supports the efforts of the faculty who wrote the letter on Climate Change Action and urges other faculty to support the letter as well. The motion passed unanimously
Dear President Schlissel,
As a group that includes the most distinguished faculty at the University of Michigan, we are writing for several reasons. First, we thank you for establishing the President’s Commission on Carbon Neutrality to plan the University’s path towards carbon neutrality. As is clear from the 2018 IPCC special report, the goal of achieving carbon neutrality is critical for the resilience of society and we are happy to see this manifestation of U-M leadership.
Second, we urge you to reconsider the scope of the Commission by incorporating consideration of 1) the planned expansion of the Central Power Plant and 2) divestment of holdings in fossil-fuel securities from our U-M investment portfolio. While the expansion and upgrade of the Central Power Plant may result in a reduction of direct emissions (scopes 1 and 2), the current calculations from the University do not incorporate the latest science on fugitive methane leaks (Alvarez et al. 2018, Howarth 2014), which may mean that the greenhouse gas savings are actually negligible. The expansion would thus commit the University to years of fossil fuel use without either saving money or reducing emissions. A genuinely sustainable movement toward carbon neutrality requires a commitment to renewable energy sources and not simply less harmful fossil fuels. Divesting of fossil fuel stocks from our endowment portfolio is necessary for a full accounting of carbon emissions. Offsetting the emissions impacts of these investments by diminishing our on-site emissions would be difficult, if not impossible to achieve. Divestment is also likely to be financially responsible in the long term, given the need to vastly reduce global fossil fuel use. Ethically, including fossil-fuel stocks in our endowment portfolio makes us complicit in supporting an industrial sector that is driving our world into a climate crisis.
Third, we urge you to establish a timeline for carbon neutrality now as so many of our peer institutions have already done (e.g., see the Climate Leadership Network). It is clear that the technology exists or is being developed to achieve ambitious goals within the next 10 to 15 years; the gap is the political will. It has, frankly, been embarrassing that our distinguished institution has lagged so far behind our peers in this arena, especially given the immense intellectual resources of our faculty and students to contribute to solutions, both locally and globally. We think it is most appropriate for the University leadership to set the goals and then have the Commission formulate plans to implement them.
Finally, and most immediately, we urge you to engage directly with the University community in discussion of these and related issues. We understand that a town hall with you is being arranged; we hope you will take this opportunity to respond directly to students’ questions without prescreening. We also ask that you reconsider the arrest of students on trespassing charges that occurred during the March 15th climate strike sit-in. As educators, we are proud that our students are seriously and thoughtfully addressing climate change as the “defining scientific, social, and environmental problem of our age” and hope that you will engage with them with the same level of seriousness and thoughtfulness.
Margaret B. Davis Distinguished University Professor, Arthur Thurnau Professor
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, LSA
Professor Marsh introduced the following proposal for allowing on-line voting
The motion will be introduced as follows:
- Absentee votes may be called by the Chair of the Assembly if an important and urgent matter arises that cannot wait until the next scheduled Senate Assembly meeting, including over the summer recess.
- Senate Assembly members may transmit their votes by e-mail to the Secretary of the Assembly or his/her designate (e.g. the Director of the Faculty Senate Office) or through a secure web-based platform such as may be set up for the purpose.
- The Secretary of the Assembly, or designate, shall be responsible for tallying electronic absentee votes.
- The Assembly will be notified by e-mail that an absentee vote be held. Voting will be open for a period of 5 business days from the date of notification. After voting closes, the Assembly will be promptly notified of the results of the vote.
- The quorum for an absentee ballot shall be the same as that for conducting a Senate Assembly meeting; currently 50% of Senate Assembly members.
- Electronic votes shall not be considered secret unless a secret ballot has been called for – e.g. election of SACUA members
- Senate Assembly members voting in person at an Assembly meeting shall not be permitted to vote electronically.
- The resolutions to be voted on electronically should normally have been discussed by the Senate Assembly prior to voting. A summary of any discussion should accompany the resolution.
The amended motion was passed unanimously.
Resolution on Governance at all Levels: Endorsed by SACUA January 14, 2019 Introduction:
This resolution addresses governance challenges caused by differences in terminology for academic bodies among the 3 campuses. For example, units named colleges, departments, programs, units, institutes, divisions, and disciplines are all involved in making curricular policies and decisions that must be subject to faculty purview according to the Regent’s Bylaws and to common understandings of faculty governance. There seems to be confusion about the faculty’s authority and role in governance within those alternatively named decision-making bodies. The resolution is a reminder of the existing policy that regardless of how the decision-making body has been named, decision-making should include consultation of the faculty with relevant disciplinary expertise and that those faculty may establish operating procedures within the bodies in which they serve. For example, departments should be free to pass internal rules without obstruction, understanding that if a conflict arises between policies, the policy of the higher body prevails (per the SPG: http://spg.umich.edu/about/policy-hierarchy).
This resolution reaffirms the importance of the existing policy that already applies across the three campuses. Passages below are taken from those existing institution-wide policies.
- Chapter 4 of the University of Michigan Faculty Handbook: http://provost.umich.edu/faculty/handbook/4/index.html
- The 2008 Principles of Faculty Involvement in Institutional and Academic Unit Governance at the University of Michigan, developed and endorsed by the University Shared Governance Task Force of the Senate Assembly and Provost Teresa A. Sullivan; https://facultysenate.umich.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2015/02/Faculty-Senate- Principles-and-Regent-bylaws-updated-.pdf
- The Regents Bylaws, sections 5.01-09, addressing governing bodies and the power and duties of governing faculties; http://regents.umich.edu/bylaws/bylaws05a.html)
- The University of Michigan SPG outlining the hierarchy of legal and policy requirements: http://spg.umich.edu/about/policy-hierarchy.
Resolution on Governance at all Levels:
Whereas the principles of faculty governance apply to all three campuses across the University of Michigan as an institution;
Whereas the Principles for Faculty Participation in Institutional Governance state that “Faculty members are encouraged to use these principles as a basis for ensuring their effective participation in governance at all levels; […] Agencies for faculty participation in the government of the college/school or university shall be established at each level where faculty responsibility is to be met. A faculty-elected campus-wide body shall exist for the presentation of the views of the whole faculty. The agencies may consist of meetings of all faculty members of a department, school, college, division, or university system, or they may take the form of faculty-elected executive committees in departments and colleges/schools, and a faculty-elected body for larger divisions or for the institution as a whole (Part A.5.).”
Whereas faculty serve in a variety of roles, including through governance within committees, programs, departments, schools, colleges, institutes, divisions, and assemblies;
Whereas the governance structures of the institution vary in number and type by campus;
Whereas an instructional unit is most often a school or college, all Regentally established academic structures (i.e., disciplines, institutes, programs, departments, etc.) also function as types of units and are meant to be subject to the same principles of faculty governance;
Be it resolved that the U of M Senate Assembly acknowledges the importance of faculty participation in institutional shared governance at every level of academic responsibility on all U of M campuses. This includes the faculty at the departmental and academic program or Discipline (Dearborn) levels. Faculty have the right and duty to develop and ratify internal procedures in accordance with the SPG ‘Hierarchy of Legal and Policy Requirements,’ and to establish mechanisms for their participation at those levels. Those best informed by disciplinary academic expertise should be able to make decisions according to the standards of governance established in the Regents Bylaws and Principles of Governance
Professor Beatty introduced the following motion to create the committee to administer the DMN lecture:
Be it resolved that a permanent DMN Academic Freedom Lecture Committee of the Senate Assembly be established with a charge to select the annual speaker for the DMN lecture and coordinate the programming elements.
The motion passed unanimously. Senate Assembly will be asked to approve the committee at the January 28 Senate Assembly meeting.
Chair Marsh introduced the Resolution in Support of the University of Michigan Achieving Carbon Neutrality in support of CSG’s resolution on Carbon Neutrality (https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1W5mwgvljRSPyanevDcXmvTBrtTTyoKgu):
SACUA joins with the broader University community in recognizing the existential threat posed by climate change and global warming, which is driven by the continuing increase in greenhouses gases generated from burning fossil fuels. SACUA therefore supports the goals of the resolution recently passed by Central Student Government: In support of carbon neutrality at the University of Michigan by 2035. SACUA considers that the University of Michigan is uniquely positioned to play a leading role in the challenge of combating global greenhouse gas emissions and calls on the University to redouble its efforts to reduce its carbon footprint and achieve carbon neutrality at the earliest possible date.
The resolution was passed with one abstention.
Further statement on the rights and responsibilities of faculty as they relate to writing letters of reference:
In light of recent events on the Ann Arbor campus, the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs (SACUA) strongly reaffirms its commitment to the defense of academic freedom and the rights and responsibilities of academic tenure.
SACUA reasserts its commitment to the American Association of University Professors’ (AAUP) Statement of Professional Ethics, which stresses that a faculty member’s evaluation of a student’s merit should be the primary concern in providing letters of recommendation and to the Association’s assertion that faculty members “have a particular obligation to promote conditions of free inquiry and to further public understanding of academic freedom.”
In its previous Statement on Letters of Reference, SACUA affirmed a community standard. Clear understanding of that standard should protect students and faculty alike. SACUA, therefore, objects to any suggestion that its Statement on Letters of Reference can be used as an endorsement of sanctions against a member of the faculty.
SACUA is concerned that the widely circulated disciplinary letter recently issued by the Dean of LSA may have a chilling effect on members of the academic community who may, for legitimate and deeply held personal reasons, feel uncomfortable about providing letters to certain organizations or individuals. Such discomfort is fully in accord with the principle of intellectual integrity that is the core of academic freedom and does not represent “exploitation, harassment, or discriminatory treatment of students,” which is deprecated by the AAUP.
SACUA asserts that recommendation letters represent the personal endorsement of the writer and, as such, the decision to write any letter must remain the prerogative of the author; faculty members should not have to fear reprisal for declining to write a letter. To the extent that any member of our academic community feels coerced into providing a recommendation letter, or stating opinions that he or she does not believe, the integrity of the recommendation is tarnished and the academic freedom that is central to our University is impugned.
WHEREAS President of the University of Michigan Mark Schlissel has announced Michigan’s participation in the nonpartisan Big Ten Voting Challenge, and
WHEREAS the 90% Pledge is a motivational tool within the Big Ten Voting Challenge to encourage Universities and their sub-units to ensure 90% of their eligible students are registered to vote and to increase turnout in local, state, and national elections, and
WHEREAS Faculty are critical to establishing a culture of civic participation on a University campus, and
WHEREAS a culture of civic participation is in accordance with the mission of a public university to contribute to the common good,
BE IT RESOLVED that the Faculty Senate endorses the 90% Pledge and the Big Ten Voting Challenge and encourages the Faculty of the University of Michigan on all three campuses to promote voter registration and voter turnout among all eligible students.
The amended measure passed unanimously.
The Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs affirms its commitment to the American Association of University Professors’ Statement of Professional Ethics and wishes to draw the University community’s attention to section 2, relating to a professor’s educational responsibilities:
As teachers, professors encourage the free pursuit of learning in their students. They hold before them the best scholarly and ethical standards of their discipline. Professors demonstrate respect for students as individuals and adhere to their proper roles as intellectual guides and counselors. Professors make every reasonable effort to foster honest academic conduct and to ensure that their evaluations of students reflect each student’s true merit. They respect the confidential nature of the relationship between professor and student. They avoid any exploitation, harassment, or discriminatory treatment of students. They acknowledge significant academic or scholarly assistance from them. They protect their academic freedom.
Within the guidelines set forth by the American Association of University Professors, and “demonstrate[ing] respect for students,” faculty should let a student’s merit be the primary guide for determining how and whether to provide such a letter.
The motion passed unanimously.
Professor Beatty moved that the Tri Campus Committee resolution be brought back for discussion.
The motion is:
Be it resolved that a permanent Tri-Campus Committee of the Senate Assembly shall be established [with a charge] to consider points of interest delegated to it by SACUA such as those that relate to the relationship between the three campuses or policies across the institution.
Resolution approved unanimously.
RESOLUTION 091117-1 Considering the recent anti-Latinx graffiti, the University of Michigan’s Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs hereby affirms its support for the Latinx members of the University community. Our collective commitment to equity, inclusion, and mutual respect extends to all members of all ethnic communities. We call on all members of the University of Michigan to unequivocally oppose and condemn all attempts to discriminate against, marginalize, or denigrate students, faculty, and staff based on national origin or ethnic belonging. After discussion of the wording, the motion as worded was approved 5-2-1.
RESOLUTION 091117-2 Be it resolved, that the Tri-Campus Faculty Governance Task Force be reconstituted for one academic year by an election of the Faculty Assembly to elect 2 Faculty Assembly representatives from each campus. The motion was passed unanimously
ACTION OF SACUA
The Senate Assembly supports developing centralized education for instructors and faculty to raise awareness of physical and mental health issues facing students, and knowledge of supportive resources on campus, to promote accessibility, self-care and school-life balance.
The motion carried 5-1.
ACTION OF SACUA 122115
In light of the recent wave of anti-Islamic rhetoric in public discourse, the University of Michigan’s Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs hereby affirms its support for the Muslim members of the University community. Our collective commitment to equity, inclusion, and mutual respect extends to members of religious communities. We call on all members of the University of Michigan to unequivocally oppose and condemn all attempts to discriminate against, marginalize, or denigrate students, faculty, and staff on the basis of religious faith, national origin or ethnic belonging.
The motion carried unanimously.
ACTION OF SACUA 092815-1
- As the faculty of the University of Michigan is committed to providing the University’s students with a world-class education, it recognizes the need to provide that education in a safe and healthy environment. And as the faculty of the University of Michigan recognizes that providing regular instruction for First and Second years students five days a week promotes a better and more secure learning environment, and it recognizes that Friday classes, especially Friday morning classes, reduce the incidence of alcohol abuse in university communities. The University Faculty therefore strongly urges the Provost to promote and incentivize the regular teaching of large enrollment 100 and 200 level courses (defined as courses having ten or more sections) with a Friday meeting. It recommends that in cases where such classes have a lecture component, those classes will regularly have a lecture on Friday.
- The action was approved by unanimous vote.
ACTION OF SACUA 092815-2
Whereas our current student evaluation of teaching (SET) instrument is not designed to assist students in choosing classes, and
Whereas there is no consensus on the general validity of student evaluations of teaching, and
Whereas some research suggests that an instructor’s race, gender, ethnicity, national origin, or sexual orientation may negatively affect his or her SET ratings, and
Whereas publicity of prior course evaluations can affect student responses on current evaluations, undermining the independence of response that is key to having a valid survey, and
Whereas prior evaluations do not reliably correspond to later iterations of a course, and
Whereas a policy that affects faculty across the University should be endorsed only after broad consultation with the faculty,
Therefore the University Senate at UM resolves to request that
- the SET instrument be redesigned in accordance with the best available research;
- that a policy for publicly releasing data obtained by this instrument be formulated in consultation with student government representatives, faculty government representatives, and UM experts in teaching and learning assessment and in statistical analysis;
- that the data obtained with the current instrument not be released under the University’s imprimatur.
- The action was approved by unanimous vote.
ACTION OF SACUA 122214-1
- Chair Masten proposed that SACUA accept the report of the Faculty Hearing Committee (Smith seconded).
- The action was accepted by unanimous vote with no abstentions of record.
ACTION OF SACUA 110314-1
- Professor Lehman moved that the amended draft policy statement be transmitted to the Office of General Counsel to initiate further dialog (Holland seconded).
- Chair Masten pointed out that the General Counsel Advisory Committee is considering a general policy for confidentiality across campus.
- The action was approved by unanimous vote.
ACTION OF SACUA 092914-1
- On behalf of the University Senate and Senate Assembly, SACUA expresses sincere thanks to President Schlissel for taking time to engage with faculty governance and his openness regarding topics of high concern to the university.
- The action was adopted by unanimous consent.
ACTION OF SACUA 092914-2
- SACUA recommends that the President of the University of Michigan vote to override the governance changes proposed by the NCAA because the proposed NCAA governing body would be composed of insufficient numbers of faculty representatives.
- The action was approved by unanimous vote of those present.