The University Record, December 4, 2000

U’s scale, diversity, richness form theme of Cantor’s address

By Theresa Maddix

Cantor
Provost Nancy Cantor used November’s Senate Assembly meeting to address a “smorgasbord of different topics and initiatives that have come up in various conversations” with her office and the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs and other committees during the past year.

Cantor grouped her topics under the general theme of “how to make the most of Michigan’s remarkable scale and diversity and richness.” And while she emphasized the “scale of offerings across every professional school and all aspects of liberals arts,” she focused on the human scale—“the richness and diversity of participants in this community, the fact that we represent many generations of participants in the educational process with faculty, graduate students and undergraduates.” Cantor also praised the faculty, saying, “the composition of our faculty has gotten much richer in terms of different kinds of involvement.”

Cantor was upbeat also about “the ‘public goods’ institutions on our campus that are becoming more involved in the educational mission.”

“One of the things that happens in an incredibly rich and diverse institution is it becomes a challenge to make the kinds of connections across different sub-communities, different types of backgrounds of people, different work practices and different expertise,” Cantor said. “It takes a conscious effort to constantly check back in with who we are as an institution and how we can make the links and connections across boundaries.

“It’s important to think about scale and connectedness as requiring us to be very self-conscious as an institution about how we support each other and how we engage as a collective.”

Cantor also focused on issues related to undergraduate education (see accompanying article) and issues for the faculty.

Faculty issues include the faculty compensation guidelines, the recent mentoring retreat, the tenure committee report, the University’s partnership with Fathom.com and outreach activities.

The mentoring retreat with more than 90 participants was described as “extraordinary,” looking at mentoring as “creating community,” not just with junior to senior faculty relationships but with relationships throughout a career.

As part of last year’s reaccreditation process, a set of recommendations were created by a faculty working group examining “how to enrich our tenure and promotions procedures campuswide.” That faculty working group’s recommendations overlap quite a bit with the recommendations of the Senate Tenure Committee. Cantor’s office is taking the reports of both groups and extracting some campuswide principles.

Cantor noted the University’s joining of Fathom.com, an online educational venture. Other institutions participating include Columbia University, London School of Economics and Political Science, Cambridge University Press, the British Library, the New York Public Library, the University of Chicago, American Film Institute, RAND, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Victoria and Albert Museum, Science Museum (United Kingdom) and the Natural History Museum (United Kingdom).

Currently, she noted, the U-M is participating “as an academic partner. It does not constrain us from taking part in other online educational ventures, nor does it require the faculty to get involved. It’s merely an opportunity to get involved.”

Cantor quickly touched on a variety of initiatives, reminding the Senate “how important it is when we create these rich and diverse connections on campus, that they stretch far beyond the gates of this campus at times.” Cantor cited a recent trip by deans and executive officers to Detroit to look at collaborative projects there. One is a “community-based health research project at Butzel Family Center, which is bringing together the Latino community and the Black community in Detroit, our public health and social work faculty and others in what is being viewed as a national model on how to do community-based research.”

Cantor views this as an example of the way the University can be good partners with the community.

Cantor also cited the University’s public goods as “a bridge between the public and the community, and the academic mission.” Recent initiatives include projects connecting the Nichols Arboretum and the public schools on renewable resources; the Bentley Historical Library, the University Library and the Ann Arbor Public Library on the Making of Ann Arbor Project; and the Clements Library with many interdisciplinary undergraduate programs.

Other public goods include the Arts of Citizenship Program, the University Musical Society, the Museum of Art and the Arts of Michigan Program.