The University Record, March 11, 1998

Seven vie for three seats on SACUA













By Jane R. Elgass

Seven members of Senate Assembly are running for three seats on the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs (SACUA).

The election will be held at the Monday (March 16) Senate Assembly meeting. The winners will serve three-year terms beginning May 1, succeeding Louis D'Alecy, Donald Deskins Jr., who has been completing another's term, and Valerie Lee.

Candidates have provided position statements, excerpted here, and biographical information. The full text of their statements is available on the Web at .

Richard L. Christiansen

"We as faculty tend to focus primarily on our own individual and special activities rather than departmental or University issues. A struggle exists between the protection of the rights of the entire academic field, the autonomy of separate disciplines and the autonomy of the individual faculty member. Faculty communication was easy when the size was small. A challenge of every faculty senate is how to effectively communicate with all faculty and crystallize the ideas and develop consensus for optimal change. As 'Professor' Will Rogers said, 'Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.'" We cannot merely condemn the changes around us, but rather we need to recognize the changes upon us and learn what resources we have available to move positively in those new directions."

Donald R. Deskins Jr.

"I strongly believe in the concept of shared governance and that SACUA's role is to work toward that goal. It is in the best interest of the entire University community for the faculty to have meaningful input on all issues that impact their well-being, and the academic research and teaching environment in which they participate. The Senate Assembly and SACUA in cooperation with the new administration must strive to make the University a more productive and better place for teaching and research. Above all, SACUA must be the strongest advocate of academic freedom, tenure and faculty rights. It must also work for an academic environment that supports new research initiatives, ideas and learning, first-rate undergraduate and graduate programs, and all institutional efforts designed to make the University a place that continues to be enriched by intellectual and cultural diversity."

Sherrie Kossoudji

"This University stands poised between the opportunities of our vision and the constraints of our social and economic realities. Our future depends on the ability of the faculty, administration and students to work together to promote our best opportunities and to minimize the impact of our worst constraints. . . .A significant opportunity is represented by our ability to understand and make positive the impact of rapidly shifting and ever increasing communications and information technologies. We need to prepare not only for the impact on teaching but for the ways in which every aspect of the University will change. We will soon compete globally for students, for example, but may have less need for a body of physically present faculty members. SACUA, as the ears and voice of the faculty, must begin to play a role in constructing this future in a way that is compatible with our faculty's interests and needs."

Jacqueline Lawson

"The need for a strong faculty voice in the University decision-making process is a concern shared by faculty on all three U-M campuses. . . . Having the broadest possible representation on SACUA is thus an important means of ensuring that the concerns of faculty throughout the University system are equitably represented and heard. My experiences in faculty governance on both the Dearborn and Ann Arbor campuses convince me that having a diversity of voices at the SACUA table will strengthen faculty governance systemwide. Challenges to prerogatives on any campus are challenges to faculty prerogatives on all three campuses. I believe that a strong faculty governing body reflecting a range of experiences yet united by common principles and shared concerns will have increased influence in meeting these challenges."

Bernard P. (Pat) Maloy

"I believe faculty still want to exercise governance at the school or unit level. That is the heritage of governance at the University of Michigan. I think that SACUA has responded to that faculty desire by emphasizing the role of committees, by changing the nature and focus of Senate meetings and by maintaining a strong level of communication.

"Faculty roles are changing. Whether it is dealing with increased levels of productivity and new technologies, or increased student involvement, faculty are facing change. My experience over the last five years is that SACUA has been fairly innovative in reacting and responding to those changes. I am confident in the ability of SACUA to preserve unit governance while sharing and solving common problems."

A.N. (Tassos) Perakis

"Since 1982, when I joined the U-M faculty, the University's budget tripled, sponsored research is first or second nationwide. Overall, the University is in very good shape. However, the role of faculty in governance is limited. We need more and better communication from the faculty to Senate Assembly and between SACUA/Senate Assembly and the administration, and an increase in our influence, as elected representatives of the faculty, on University policies. Senate Assembly meetings could be used more efficiently by increasing their pace and including short (five- to 10-minute) subcommittee presentations and discussions, after a suggestion by Prof. Nick Steneck, which I strongly seconded at the time.

"Flexible benefits, the economic status of the faculty, the recent challenges to the University's affirmative action and admissions policies, tobacco divestment, technology and the rather slow move to the paperless university, and the encouragement of interdisciplinary teaching and research are among other issues of concern."

Peter A. Ward

"The health care environment is rapidly changing in all academic medical centers. There is a great need to respond to these changes in a constructive manner. It will be very important to understand how these changes will affect the academic environment. As importantly, in the midst of these changes there will be opportunities to enhance teaching and research activities across the University. For instance, the emergence of bioinformatics as well as research into health care outcomes are two important areas of opportunity. The full measure of success will require the Medical School (and Health System) to reach out to other University units that have intellectual resources which can play important roles in these areas. A closed integration between the Medical School and the rest of the University will afford new and exciting opportunities for such pursuits. Thus, the currently changing environment provides us with an opportunity to strengthen linkages between the Medical School and the rest of the University. I believe participation in SACUA will provide an opportunity to enhance such developments."