The University Record, February 18, 2002

White addresses prescription drugs and regents’ structure before SACUA

By Martin May

A revised prescription drug benefit plan for faculty, staff and retirees, and current proposals by the Board of Regents to restructure itself were topics that Interim President B. Joseph White addressed at a meeting of the Senate Advisory Committee on University Relations (SACUA) Feb. 11.

White said that he communicated his belief to regents that any restructuring should not weaken the U-M Office of the President.

One change is that the board will elect from its members a chair and a vice chair. “Most private and public university boards have a chair,” said White. Under the new structure, the president will confer with the chair on the upcoming agenda. The president, an ex-officio member of the board, will continue to preside at regents’ meetings.

Another provision calls for the formation of two standing committees. White says that it is important to acknowledge the Board of Regents as the legitimate governing authority of the University and that the University’s constitutional autonomy in Michigan is exercised through them.

“My personal view is that our Board of Regents would benefit from having a feeling of ownership,” White said.

Turning the focus to prescription drugs, SACUA Chair Mojtaba Navvab told White that SACUA is concerned about progress on the prescription drug issue.

“We have this calendar year to get all that needs to be done for filling prescriptions starting Jan. 1 [2003],” said White to the committee. “I will make sure you [SACUA] will have a preview of the 2003 prescription drug communication plan before it is made public.”

Several SACUA members addressed concerns that not having a good prescription drug plan is a disincentive for people to retire. “If there’s any issue that requires us to confer with members of the faculty—this is it,” White said. “It really merges us into a related topic, namely, the composition of faculty,” he said.

Speaking in regard to a chart prepared by SACUA, which shows a decrease in the proportion of tenured or tenure-track faculty at the University, White said “I don’t think this chart is going to turn around, unless we address issues of retirement benefits.”

White finished his discussion by offering to put time on the official agenda of future regents’ meetings when SACUA can address the regents.