The University Record, October 8, 1996

Neal outlines position to Senate Assembly

By Jared Blank


Interim President Homer Neal presented "Acting in the Interim," an overview of the state of the University and his goals for the U-M, to the Sept. 30 Senate Assembly meeting. Neal discussed the activities that he said "can't wait or shouldn't wait until there is a new president," including assuring that all undergraduates have the opportunity to conduct research, retaining minority faculty members, and continuing the Michigan Mandate and Michigan Agenda for Women.

As vice president for research and in his current position, Neal has championed the Undergraduate Research Initiative, which would "provide to all interested students experiences in research, scholarship and creative activity working directly with faculty." He says that he will be working with faculty to consider ways for faculty to participate in the program without being "overburdened" by it.

Neal added that this year's $1 million Presidential Initiatives Fund competition will support research projects that involve undergraduates.

An area of concern for him, Neal noted, is the small number of minority and women faculty at the full professor level. He added that increasing the number of minority and women faculty is not enough---that retaining these faculty members is also of the highest priority. Neal said that the administration is currently conducting a search for someone to lead the Agenda for Women.

While re-affirming his commitment to the Michigan Mandate, Neal said, "We have outside counsel engaged to help review admissions and financial aid procedures in light of a recent court ruling." In Hopwood v. Texas, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the University of Texas could not take race into consideration for admission or financial aid applicants. While the court does not have jurisdiction over the state of Michigan, the Regents sought counsel to examine the University's policies on this matter.

Other projects that Neal highlighted are a renovation of Hill Auditorium, his "In the Interim" newsletter that will be mailed periodically to faculty and staff, and a continuation of the positive relationship that the University has had with the state over the past year.

Neal stressed throughout the talk that "honest feedback" from faculty and staff is necessary to continue the success of campus initiatives. In addition to personal contact by members of the University community, Neal cited a number of task forces that will provide suggestions to him, including those focusing on campus safety and security, child care, and the Mandate and Agenda.