The University Record, February 4, 1998
By Kerry Colligan
The resolution on the "Value of Diversity" statement drafted by the Committee on a Multicultural University (SACMU) passed in the Senate Assembly last week, 32 for, 0 against, 5 abstentions. The statement (printed below) "indicates why diversity is important to the University and is quite in line with recent statements made by our President," said Charles B. Smith, professor of pharmacology and SACMU chair.
Assembly discussion around the statement focused on the impact of the statement, highlighting the need to provide specific recommendations on how to achieve diversity. Smith reported that SACMU will draft recommendations to be presented to the Assembly before the end of the calendar year. In addition, members discussed the need to draw attention to the ideas expressed in the statement. "I think it is a remarkable statement, and is important for people on this campus to hear now," said Lewis Kleinsmith, professor of biology.
Other issues discussed at the meeting:
Gordon MacAlpine, professor of astronomy, asked the Assembly to endorse a statement in opposition to a tobacco advertisement that appeared in The Michigan Daily Jan. 23. MacAlpine expressed concern that the advertisement was "facilitating the distribution of tobacco products" on campus. Senate Assembly Chair Louis D'Alecy will bring the item before the assembly next month, following the collection of additional information.
A report on the activities of the Medical Affairs Advisory Committee by Peter A. Ward, the Godfrey D. Stobbe Professor of Pathology and chair of the committee, concentrated on issues facing the committee in the coming year. Among those, Ward said, are the ability of the Health System to provide efficient, cost-effective services in the face of a 41 percent increase in M-CARE enrollment; the pressure to find additional training sites for internal medicine students as training guidelines increasingly emphasize outpatient care; and, a review of promotion procedures for clinical faculty whose composition is shifting from the tenure track to the clinical track. Ward said it is important for the Health System to "be prepared to respond to rapid changes in the environment in order to remain financially stable."
Jose Marie-Griffiths, University chief information officer and executive director of the Information Technology Division (ITD), outlined some of the issues facing ITD. ITD is facing 100 percent utilization, Griffiths said, and must find a way to optimize its investments, in both physical and human resources. (See Campuswide IT policy coming.)
'The Value of Diversity' Statement
"The University of Michigan Senate Assembly, the elected governing body of the faculty, believes that the goals of an institution of higher learning should be to generate new knowledge, to convey knowledge to others, and to involve its faculty, students, and staff in using this knowledge to address contemporary social problems. For the University to excel in reaching these goals, the rich diversity of contemporary society is a resource that needs to be tapped. Not only does the education of students from diverse backgrounds itself address societal problems, but collaborative efforts within the University among persons with diverse points of view can facilitate the development of new ideas in our intellectual enterprise and help us to formulate creative solutions to societal problems. Civility in discourse and the generation of mutual empathy among diverse parties are crucial to the effectiveness of this process.
"Our commitment to diversity means at the most basic level a willingness both to recognize the value of disparate experiences and visions and to weave them into the fabric of our institution. Because of this, we are committed to policy of recruiting and maintaining a culturally and racially diverse student body and faculty that are representative of contemporary society, and to assuring that these diverse influences are respected and incorporated into the structure of the University. In this way, we can provide students with the unique educational experience and intellectual stimulation that can only come from interacting with and learning to respect a broad range of people with differing backgrounds, life experiences, beliefs and ideas.
"In order for the University to retain its leadership role within the educational community, it must continue and expand upon these efforts to reach out and include all who comprise our diverse society in order to engage effectively its students, faculty, and staff with the major societal problems of the present and future. It is only through such a commitment that the University of Michigan can positively and effectively influence the future of American education and the world of the twenty-first century."