The University Record, April 17, 1995

FACULTY PERSPECTIVES

FACULTY PERSPECTIVES

The Michigan Mandate: Promise and Progress

Ronald J. Lomaxi, Thomas E. Mooreii,
and Charles B. Smithiii

During the 1993-94 academic year, University of Michigan President James D. Duderstadt presented to the University community the Michigan Agenda for Women, a plan for increasing the representation of women and others within the professoriate. Those responsible for meeting the goals of the agenda should be guided by experiences gained with the Michigan Mandate. The purpose of this brief commentary is to review the background of the Mandate, to assess progress with the recruitment and retention of faculty of color since the Mandate was first proposed, and to discuss some lessons that might have been learned during the years that the Mandate has been before the University community.

Background. When James J. Duderstadt became President of the University of Michigan in 1988, he committed himself, his administration and the University to the Michigan Mandate, a blueprint for fundamental change in the ethnic composition of the University community. One major objective of the mandate was to increase by the year 2000 the representation of persons of color within the professoriate so that the proportion of such individuals would correspond more closely to their proportion in the population of the State of Michigan and the United States of America. At the beginning of the 1989-90 academic year, Charles Vest, appointed by President Duderstadt to serve as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, asked his faculty advisory committee, the Senate Assembly Academic Affairs Advisory Committee, to devise approaches to address the problem of underrepresentation of persons of color within faculty ranks.

After an intensive study, the Academic Affairs Advisory Committee recommended that the University administration create a position for a person or persons within the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs who would do the following: (i) monitor the recruitment activity of the various schools and colleges; (ii) assist the colleges and schools to seek out and recruit potential faculty of color; (iii) establish liaisons with other institutions to collect and exchange information on graduate students of color who might be seeking faculty positions; (iv) fund visits of attractive candidates to the campus and make regular recruiting visits to other campuses; (v) provide mentoring for new and current faculty of color; (vi) monitor the progress of faculty of color once inside the University; and (vii) assist the various schools and colleges to reassess their criteria for hiring and promotion of all faculty.

The Committee was convinced that only by obtaining the strong support and active involvement of the University's faculty could the objectives of the Michigan Mandate be attained. The Committee therefore recommended that a committee of faculty members (excluding departmental chairs and deans) be created to monitor the efforts of the various schools and colleges to recruit and retain faculty of color. Shortly after the Committee sent its report and recommendations to the Provost, Charles Vest left the University to become President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Almost immediately after becoming Provost, Vest's successor, Gilbert R. Whitaker, Jr., former Dean of the School of Business Administration at the University of Michigan, responded to the report and recommendations of the Academic Affairs Advisory Committee. In an October 1990 memorandum to the Committee, the new Provost advised the Committee that "we are entering into a period of constrained financial resources and any proposed additions in Administrative personnel must be viewed with concern. 'More importantly," he continued, "many of the initiatives you have identified in your proposal are currently in place or can be addressed within existing structures. For example, President Duderstadt and I have recently established a committee, consisting of the second highest ranking official in each academic unit, to review progress on diversity objectives and to discuss and formulate policies to implement them." He assured the Committee that "I intend to monitor closely the search and hiring policies and practices of the units with respect to minorities and women candidates. ...The Deans will be held accountable for the progress of their units and I fully expect to be held accountable for the University's progress in this area." With respect to the issue of retention the Provost wrote:

Retention of minority and female faculty is a serious issue. However, it is also a two-edged sword. That is, while we hope that our faculty find the University of Michigan to be a nurturing, stimulating, positive place, considerations of individual professional development and personal preferences are sometimes overriding factors in decisions to leave. I hope that you would agree that we would not want to have faculty here who are not actively sought after by other outstanding institutions. By the same token, I think you would agree that we do not want faculty to leave for the wrong reasons.

Thus, in his memorandum the Provost replaced the suggestion that faculty should be responsible for overseeing the recruitment and retention of faculty of color with a system in which responsibility was vested in "the second highest ranking official in each academic unit," and suggested that the Committee's recommendations for administrative initiatives to promote the recruitment and retention of faculty of color might be unnecessary or too expensive. He personally assured his advisory committee, however, that progress would be made.

Evaluation of the success of the Michigan Mandate. In the Spring of 1993, the Senate Assembly's Committee for a Multicultural University, a committee advisory to the Vice Provost for Academic and Multicultural Affairs (originally the Vice Provost for Minority Affairs), decided to evaluate the climate on the campus of the University of Michigan for faculty of color, and as part of their study decided to include an unprecedented and in-depth evaluation of the success of the recruitment and retention efforts before and after the commitment of the University by its President to the Michigan Mandate. In December, 1994, the Committee submitted its report to the Senate Assembly. Some of the major demographic findings of the report are as follows:

• In the 1993-94 academic year, 4.3% of the full time, tenure track faculty members were Black, 8.0% were Asian, 1.8% were Hispanic and 0.25% Native American at the University of Michigan. (According to 1990 census figures, 12.1% of the population of the United States was Black, 9.0% Hispanic 2.9% Asian or Pacific Islander, and 0.8% Native Americans.)

• The proportion of Black faculty was lowest in the School of Information and Library Sciences (0%), the Medical School (1.2%), the College of Engineering (2.7%), the Law School (2.8%), the School of Business Administration (3.0%), and on the Dearborn campus (3.6%). Several small units (fewer than 50 faculty members) had a higher proportion of Black faculty, including the School of Social Work (14.7%), the College of Pharmacy (11.5%) and the School of Nursing (11.1%). The proportion of Black faculty in the largest unit, the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, with 657 full-time, tenure-track faculty members, was 4.4%. Many schools and colleges had no Hispanic faculty and several had no Asian faculty.

• In contrast to their non-minority and Asian counterparts, of those Black faculty who were Assistant Professors in the 1982-1983 academic year, 6 out of 26 were still at the University of Michigan in 1994. Most of the remaining Black women were still Assistant Professors, and none of the Black women had risen to the rank of Professor. Since the 1987-1988 academic year, the proportion of Black women Assistant Professors who have left the University has actually increased.

• At all ranks, full-time, tenure-track faculty of color received significantly lower salary compensation than non-minority faculty, and women faculty in general received lower salaries than their male colleagues within each ethnic group.

• In general, full-time, tenure-track faculty of color had spent fewer years at the University of Michigan than non-minority faculty, and women faculty in general received lower salaries than their male colleagues within each ethnic group.

The Committee for a Multicultural University also carried out a survey regarding the work environment to which 200 faculty of color responded. At that time there were 544 full-time, tenure-track faculty members in the group that was surveyed. For various reasons, not everyone who was surveyed responded, but the convergence of opinion on a number of the issues lends credence to the representativeness of the data. A few findings of the survey related to recruitment and retention of faculty of color follow.

Although many of the respondents rated both the University's and their departments' efforts in recruitment as moderately good or better, 63% of the Black women and 60% of Hispanic women rated the efforts of the University between poor and moderate. These two groups were even more critical of the efforts of their departments. Twenty percent of the Black women and 11% of the Hispanic women rated the efforts of their departments as poor.

Views of the respondents with regard to the retention of minority faculty were more variable, both in terms of the contrast between the University as a whole versus individual departments, and among groups of respondents. Two-thirds (66%) of the Black women rated the performance of the University's performance between poor (23%) and moderately good, whereas only 14% rated the University's performance good level or above. None in this group rated the University performance as outstanding. A similar proportion (67%) of Hispanic women rated the University's performance between poor and moderately good. Sixty-two percent of the Black men also rated the performance of the University between poor and moderately good. With regard to retention, negative views on the role of departments were more widely divergent; and none of those surveyed ranked their departments as outstanding.

Barriers to recruitment and retention. An extensive literature review by the Committee for a Multicultural Uni-versity revealed that other academic institutions had experiences with the recruitment and retention of faculty of color similar to those of the University of Michigan. The Committee concluded that there were certain widely held 'myths' that constituted barriers to the effective recruitment and subsequent retention of faculty of color. Four of these 'myths' were that:

• all of the qualified or 'good' faculty of color have already been hired by the best universities,

• it is necessary to lower traditional standards of academic excellence in order to hire and to retain and promote faculty of color,

• faculty of color do not wish to join the faculties of predominantly white institutions, and

• faculty of color prefer the private sector to public, academic institutions.

Conclusions. A few conclusions might be drawn from the seven years of experience at the University of Michigan with the Michigan Mandate that might be of value as we enter the era of the Michigan Agenda for Women.

• Commitment and Involvement. A successful program designed to recruit and retain women faculty and faculty of color requires that faculty, as well as administrators, be fully committed to its objectives and be extensively involved in its implementation. Faculty, especially those protected by having achieved tenure, must take a leadership role.

• Standards of Excellence. Performance standards must be developed that apply to all faculty regardless of ethnicity or gender. Faculty and administrators must be committed to seeing that all faculty who are brought into the university are provided with the resources and support necessary for them to attain that level of excellence that is associated with tenure. The devastating assumption that women and persons of color cannot perform at the same level as other faculty members must be avoided at all costs.

• Mentoring. Faculty and administrators must ensure that all faculty, including women and persons of color, receive the same level and type of mentoring that is essential for success. No one should have to exist in an environment in which he or she feels deprived of the support of colleagues.

• Accountability. Both faculty and administrators must be held fully accountable for the success of programs such as the Michigan Mandate. Critical features of such accountability are that faculty continuously judge the sincerity and monitor the progress of their faculty--with dignity and with mutual respect.

We agree with the sentiment expressed by Provost Whitaker when he wrote in the Other Voices column of the Ann Arbor News on June 24, 1994, that 'current faculty play a major role in hiring new faculty. The administration can do a great deal to support the hiring and promotion of faculty of color, but in the end the recruitment of faculty is done by the faculty themselves.' Programs with goals such as those of the Michigan Mandate and the Michigan Agendas require the shared commitment and responsibility of University faculty and administrators if they are to be successful.

Reference: 'The Quality of the Climate for Minority Faculty at the University of Michigan. A Report and Recommendation by the Committee for a Multicultural University,' Committee Chair, Rashid L. Bashshur, report accepted by the University of Michigan Senate Assembly, Dec. 13, 1994; recommendations adopted by the University of Michigan Senate Assembly, Jan. 20, 1995.

______________________________

i. Ronald J. Lomas, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, is a member of SACUA and served as Co-Chair of the Academic Affairs Advisory Committee during the 1990-91 academic year.

ii. Thomas E. Moore, Professor of Biology, is a member of SACUA and SACUA liaison to the Committee for a Multicultural University during the 1993-94 academic year.

iii. Charles B. Smith, Professor of Pharmacology, is a member of SACUA and a member of the Committee for a Multicultural University.

 

Writers Suggest Future Direction of Tenure Document

The following letter was received in response to the Tenure Report published in the Faculty Perspectives Page, March 20, 1995, under the title Toward a Definition of Tenure.

March 17, 1995

Dear Professor Barnard:

As the faculty members who were elected to the LSA Executive Committee, we have welcomed the opportunity to read and discuss "Toward a Definition of Tenure," the statement prepared by SACUA's Tenure Committee and endorsed by the Senate Assembly in December 1994. The statement's title suggests its provisional nature; as Professor Kent Syverud, its principal drafter, acknowledged during his remarks at the February forum on tenure, its purpose is "to start a process of discussion about issues related to tenure." In this spirit, we want to offer some suggestions as to the statement's future development.

First, as the historical portion of the statement indicates (pp. 2-5), tenure at the University of Michigan is closely associated with Regents' Bylaw 5.09, in that this Bylaw provides tenured faculty members with continuous protection against unwarranted dismissal or demotion. (Non-tenured faculty, by contrast, may invoke the Bylaw only during the term of their contracts.) We consider this portion of the statement convincing especially in its discussion of "adequate cause" for dismissal or demotion. As we understand it, tenure arose out of a justified fear that senior faculty members might be dismissed or demoted for improper reasons impinging on academic freedom; accordingly the University undertook to demonstrate, in each case, that it had proper reasons for seeking such drastic penalties. In our view, this is the only implication of tenure in relation to the cumbersome procedures of Bylaw 5.09, and we consider it particularly important that the protection of tenure not be sundered from its historical roots in the fostering of academic freedom.

Second, the concept of constructive demotion (pp. 5-7) is persuasive in itself, but inadequately developed by the statement. We believe that in some cases "a serious infringement" of faculty privileges could constitute a "demotion" even if a faculty member is not actually reduced in rank. However, this portion of the statement neither defines what such a "serious infringement" is, nor states criteria by which it can be recognized. At minimum, it is reasonable to argue that if Bylaw 5.09 is to be applicable, a constructive demotion must be equivalent in severity to an actual demotion; and severity, in turn, can presumably be measured by the full objective impact on the faculty member, including economic loss and public humiliation. By such criteria, a 10 percent pay reduction in one year would evidently not amount to constructive demotion. In any case, this part of the statement requires considerable amplification.

Third, the statement is least adequate when it comes to discuss "the responsibilities of tenure" (pp. 7-8). The list of responsibilities on page 8 is, in effect, a minimum job description for faculty members. But these responsibilities are incumbent on all faculty members, whether or not they are tenured; such responsibilities do not derive from tenure itself. We prefer to distinguish between the responsibilities associated with being a faculty member, on the one hand, and the grave dereliction of duty that can lead to demotion or dismissal of a tenured faculty member, on the other. Confusion on this point may have led to the anemic wording of the list. For instance, it seems obvious enough that "Faculty could endeavor to teach classes carefully and competently," but such a vague exhortation is at best just a threshold standard. As a general rule, all faculty members, both untenured and tenured, not only should, but must endeavor to teach their classes carefully and competently.

Fourth, for these reasons we think that the statement must be far more candid in acknowledging the various rewards and sanctions (short of dismissal or demotion) that operate throughout the University to encourage all faculty members in the scrupulous discharge of their duties. Such rewards and sanctions are an intrinsic and important part of our careers as faculty members, but because ordinary sanctions usually have far less drastic effects than dismissal or demotion, they are not normally thought of as requiring the extreme procedural safeguards associated with Bylaw 5.09. To be sure, since even ordinary rewards and sanctions might also be administered improperly in a manner prejudicial to academic freedom, a lesser degree of oversight is appropriate in their case as well. Nonetheless, the statement concedes only the following: "We think faculty should be encouraged to meet these responsibilities, but we are uncertain what punishment, if any, is appropriate when they are not met" (p. 7). This wording is far too weak; it sounds, in context, like a conscious attempt to evade duty. In this age of accountability, it is unrealistic to argue that the grant of tenure actually reduces the professional responsibilities of faculty members.

Until these and other difficulties have been worked out, we believe that the individual units of the University should continue to operate under their own decentralized rules and practices. Our central concern is that the concept of tenure not be diluted so much that it loses its original connection with academic freedom and becomes, instead, synonymous with the single-minded defense of privilege against legitimate accusations of incompetence or irresponsibility. Not only is such a defense not in our best interests as faculty members, it also risks undermining the historical foundations of tenure. Future versions of the statement should strive to make it clearer that you are not mounting a defense of this kind.

Once again, we would like to thank you for encouraging broader faculty discussion of the issues associated with tenure. We ask you to share our comments with the members of the Tenure Committee, and we look forward to continuing dialogue with you about this important and controversial topic.

Yours sincerely,

Professor Paul N. Courant, Department of Economics, IPPS; Professor Philip J. Hanlon, Department of Mathematics; Professor Stephen S. Easter, Jr., Department of Biology; Professor James S. Jackson, Department of Psychology, ISR; Professor Bruce W. Frier, Department of Classical Studies, Law School; Professor Domna C. Stanton, Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, Women's Studies Program

cc: Professor George Brewer
LS&A Members of Senate Assembly

One View of Faculty Governance Priorities

By George J. Brewer, M.D., Professor of Human Genetics and Intemal Medicine.

Subsequent to my recent election as faculty governance chair, I would like to list some of the priorities I see for faculty governance for the upcoming year. It would be presumptuous of me to speak for the whole of SACUA, particularly since four new members will be elected to this nine member body in March. However, I can briefly list some of the areas that, speaking for myself, I would like to see SACUA and Senate Assembly address. One of the main purposes in so doing is to begin an early dialogue with faculty as to what some of them might see as the appropriate priorities.

A high priority is individual faculty rights. The specific issues are grievances and tenure. The grievance process here at Michigan is not working well. Problems include occasional refusals to form grievance review boards (GRB), often long delays in the grievance process, and an unacceptable conflict of interest in the system. This last refers to the GRB's recommendations being made to the dean of the involved school, who may very well have been previously involved in the circumstances leading to the grievance. SACUA Subcommittee on Grievances has drafted a report on faculty grievances, which includes a proposed new model grievance policy. Making progress in this area should be a high priority.

Regarding tenure, the University's general counsel has offered the opinion that a reduction in salary of 10% for one year and 20% over a period of more than one year does not affect any of the rights of tenure and therefore does not call into play Regents' Bylaw 5.09. Bylaw 5.09 guarantees a tenured faculty member a specific set of procedures to be followed prior to dismissal or demotion. The problem being addressed by the counsel's opinion, is that with the removal of the retirement cap, the University needs a mechanism to mitigate the potential fading com-petence or industriousness of particular faculty members. Since age discrimination is forbidden, any mechanism developed must be general. I agree that a solution should be found to remedy the effects of lack of competence or industry in faculty. However, I do not believe that an attorney's opinion, out of the blue, should be the basis for a new policy. For one thing, it would be easy to abuse--a 10% reduction in salary could be the punishment for a faculty member speaking out--the very kind of academic freedom tenure is designed to protect. The Senate Assem-bly Committee on Tenure has recently come up with an excellent initial document on a definition of tenure. This document received unanimous endorsement by Senate Assembly. Perhaps a mechanism to ensure faculty accountability and competence could be added to that document. At the least, the issue deserves thorough debate and discussion.

A second priority is collective faculty rights. The governing faculties of the schools and college are given broad, strong powers by the Regents' Bylaws. These powers have shrunk and atrophied here at Michigan. Generally, the faculty has itself to blame. Faculty do not attend college and school faculty meetings. This is, consciously or subconsciously, taken as evidence by deans and school executive committees that the faculty are not interested in, and do not want to be bothered by, policy changes and the decision-making process. Increasingly, the power is gathered in the hands of deans, and legitimized as being in the interests of the faculty by the parti-cipation of a small number of faculty in school executive committees. I would like to see a rebirth of general faculty involvement in the major issues of the University. Over the last year and a half, we have been struggling to put in place a system, approved by Senate Assembly, of school-based faculty governance communication units. This system is designed to provide widespread faculty information on issues, and provide an opportunity for faculty input, by electronic means. I have been told by some that electronic communication in this setting won't work effectively. Perhaps not, but we'll work on this system until someone comes up with a better idea of how to get our faculty more involved in the affairs of their University.

A final priority is universitywide faculty governance, focused in Senate Assembly. We have in place here at Michigan all the components of a remarkably good faculty governance system. This includes the tradition of elected groups, Senate Assembly and SACUA, specifically recognized and empowered in the Regents' Bylaws. It also includes adequate space in the Fleming Building and an adequate budget. What has been missing to make these excellent components become an excellent system, in my opinion, is an effective Senate Assembly, and at least part of the time, adequate leadership from SACUA. Senate Assembly members too often don't come to the monthly meeting. When they do come, in my opinion, too often they haven't read the previously distributed materials, and too often they don't participate meaningfully in debate and discussion. Perhaps this is due, at least in part, to the way the meetings have been conducted. Perhaps there has been too much talking to, and reporting to, Senate Assembly, rather than topics being set up for discussion and debate. Perhaps it has seemed that decisions have too often already been made, in advance of Senate Assembly input.

For the next year, I would like to try to change Senate Assembly meetings such that there is significant discussion and debate on at least one issue per meeting. I would like to encourage better attendance, readiness, and participation. I would like Senate Assembly meetings to be interesting and meaningful, perhaps even a little fun! I would like to see Senate Assembly become something faculty are eager to participate in, because it's where a lot of the significant action is!