The University Record, March 7, 1994

Eight vie for three seats on faculty governance board

Eight candidates are running for three seats on the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs (SACUA).

The election will be held at the March 21 Senate Assembly meeting. Three candidates will be elected to serve three-year terms beginning May 1, succeeding John Birge, George Cameron and Ronald Lomax.

The candidates and their “campaign statements” are:

David C. Blair, associate professor of computer and information systems, School of Business Administration, and associate professor of information and library studies

It has become a prominent complaint that the structure and processes of today’s universities are not only outdated, but more importantly, are examples of a dysfunctional organizational model. Universities, this litany continues, have failed to keep up with the demands of the highly technological society, and the tighter economic climate, rather than causing the difficulties that universities find themselves in, has only revealed a structural weakness that has existed for some time now. I submit that this is not the case.

Current organizational theorists argue that modern organizations must become less hierarchical, distribute decision-making responsibilities throughout the organization, and develop good strategies to make better use of the information/knowledge that they command. In reality, these are things that universities have been doing for some time. The structure and dynamic of the university have been directed toward creating value through knowledge, and in this they can serve as models for all organizations that wish to succeed in the “Information Society” that we find ourselves in.

This is not to say that universities have solved all the problems that might impede the effectiveness of the “knowledge-based organization.” They have not—major technical and conceptual issues remain. But it does mean that universities, rather than being behind, are actually in a position of leadership in this enterprise.

A major goal of the university, then, is to look for systematic ways in which it can create the most value with the information/knowledge that it commands. It is clear that the faculty of this Univer-sity is one of the major forces in the creation of this information and knowledge.

Because of this, SACUA must look for ways to provide both guidance and leadership in how that valuable resource can be made more productive and how the “information infrastructure” of the University might be improved to facilitate this effort.

Mark R. DeCamp, faculty counselor in LS&A and associate professor of chemistry, U-M-Dearborn

My experiences in teaching, advising and service on both Dearborn and Ann Arbor campuses have afforded me a unique insight into the overall educational mission of the University—a mission which originates with the faculty. Over the years I’ve come to appreciate the importance of faculty governance and the responsibility of the faculty to set the agenda for the University. Unfortunately, too often we have abdicated this responsibility to an ever-expanding administrative infrastructure. SACUA and Senate Assembly must retake the initiative.

We have made a start with the [Louis G.] D’Alecy initiative and the recent vote to delay the implementation of the flex benefits plan. In our deliberations, however, we must recognize that the University of Michigan is a remarkably diverse entity, composed of many schools and colleges in three different locales. The University as a whole would benefit from closer links between the three institutions; issues affecting the Ann Arbor campus impact upon the regional campuses as well.

At the risk of sounding provincial, if elected to SACUA, I would represent the interests of the two regional campuses and their 14,000 students. I would also hope to serve, as I have on the Student Relations Committee, as an advocate for the University’s most abundant and, arguably, most important resources, its students.

Thomas M. Dunn, professor of chemistry

In my opinion, the most critical issues for Senate Assembly and SACUA in the coming year are:

(i) To staunch the declining influence of the governing faculty in decisions appropriate to the future and the character of the University.

(ii) Finding ways to restore confidence, particularly among younger and untenured faculty, in the integrity of decisions made about the future of their academic careers.

(iii) Finding ways to reduce the growth of non-faculty administrative bureaucracy, particularly in scholarly areas such as teaching and research.

(iv) To support the implementation of current decisions for the evaluation of administrative officers by the governing faculty.

(v) To seek ways to create a new concept of faculty culture and collegiality in order to facilitate full participation in future scholarly and administrative ventures and decisions by a much larger number of the governing faculty.

Linda P.B. Katehi, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science

In the current era of political and economic changes, reallocation of resources and reexamined priorities, the University is due for a revisit of its goals and future plans. The faculty body of this University with its collective wisdom can provide the nourishment for new ideas and new avenues for implementation. Senate Assembly and SACUA should provide the linkage between the faculty and the University administration to insure that this accumulated experience finds its way into the University executive body.

It is this collaboration between the faculty body and the University administrative branch which will carry the Univer-sity successfully into the 21st century.

Charles C. Kelsey, professor of dentistry

During my 27 years as a faculty member, I have enjoyed the privilege of participating in faculty governance on both the school and University levels. I consider such service an important part of an academic career.

SACUA and Senate Assembly should continue to aim to strengthen the role of faculty governance, address issues such as the balance between teaching and research in the careers of faculty members, and the reassertion of academic freedom and freedom of speech issues in the classroom. In my view, important ongoing SACUA and Senate initiatives such as faculty salary issues, adoption of a flexible benefits plan, appeal of tenure decisions, and clarification of faculty grievance procedures must be pursued vigorously.

Ronald J. Lomax, professor of electrical engineering and computer science

During 1993–94 SACUA has been addressing several significant issues, which include faculty governance, the changing nature of the professoriate, faculty grievances, evaluation of administrators, faculty and administrative salaries.

A proposal of George Brewer to increase faculty participation in governance at the unit level will shortly be given wide discussion and, if adopted, will require SACUA effort to implement. Preliminary studies of the composition of the faculty show that increasing numbers of non-tenured faculty appointments are being made. The impact on the individuals concerned and the nature of the University requires study.

There have been a number of cases of lawsuits against the University by faculty and others, as well as improperly handled accusations against faculty, often occasioned either by lack of adequate grievance procedures or lack of adherence to existing procedures.

Senate Assembly’s evaluation procedure for administrators, now reaffirmed, will need further monitoring. The way faculty and administrative salary increases are determined has come under widespread criticism.

Continual monitoring of the progress of minorities and women, both faculty and students, is needed to determine which gains are real, and which are manipulation of statistics.

Having been involved in most of these issues during the one year I have served on SACUA (completing the term of a member who resigned), I wish to participate in and see some results come from the actions that have been initiated.

Alfredo Montalvo, associate professor of art

Until recently, we, the faculty, ceded—essentially by default—to the circuitous executive reconfiguration of our Univer-sity by allowing disputable initiatives to go virtually unchallenged. Predictably, the yield was an inequitable faculty role and voice in University affairs, which, when exercised, have been consistently disregarded within an administrative decision-making process and protocol presumably founded on collective participation, advice and consent.

If, indeed, we are intent on engaging meaningfully and collaborating equally in the realization of a shared destiny as the splendidly diverse multicultural university envisioned then, with mutual respect, through the Senate Assembly and SACUA infrastructures, the faculty and the administration must establish clear channels of communication, and resolutely commit to the unequivocal exchange of information and to vigorous cooperation in the shaping of ideas leading to decisions affecting both parties, their common interests and shared constituents.

To this enterprise I am fully committed!

Charles E. Olson Jr., professor of natural resources

Division of responsibilities within the University continues to be a significant issue confronting Senate Assembly and SACUA. The Bylaws of the Board of Regents assign responsibility for academic programs to the governing faculties and direct Senate Assembly to provide advisory committees to each of the vice presidents, thereby providing a mechanism for faculty to provide input to devising processes which affect the University as a whole. For a number of reasons we (the faculty) have not been as effective as we could have been in meeting this advisory responsibility. At a time when the very nature of a university is being reconsidered, it is important that the faculty participate fully in deliberations that may significantly alter both teaching and research paradigms throughout the institution.

I view SACUA membership as an opportunity to assist in bringing faculty viewpoints to these deliberations, through Senate Assembly and through the advisory committees appointed in accordance with the Bylaws of the Board of Regents.