The University Record, May 6, 1998
By Kerry Colligan
Reports from the Committee on the Economic Status of the Faculty (CESF), the Study Group on the Changing Nature of the Professoriate and the Committee for a Multicultural University were among the topics discussed at Senate Assembly's April 20 meeting. In addition, outgoing Assembly Chair Louis D'Alecy, professor of physiology, presented closing remarks before passing the gavel to William Ensminger, professor of pharmacology and of internal medicine.
Faculty opinion should guide benefits decisions
Thomas Dunn, professor of chemistry and CESF chair, presented nine recommendations on benefits issues. "The major philosophy guiding this report," Dunn said, "is that whatever decisions are made on benefits, the opinions of the faculty should be the foundation of those decisions." CESF recommends that adequate time be allotted for discussion of benefits changes, that additional investment options be added to the retirement package, and that potential conflicts of interest be closely monitored.
The full report--presented to the Regents in April--is available on the Web at http://www.umich.edu/~sacua/cesf98.html.
Non-tenure-track faculty here to stay
There has been considerable increase in the use of non-tenure-track faculty in colleges and universities around the country, according to a report given by Edwin Curley, professor of philosophy and chair of the Study Group on the Changing Nature of the Professoriate. In the nine-year period 198796, the University's use of non-tenure-track faculty increased from 10.9 percent to 25.8 percent.
The study group concluded that there are three faculty tracks: tenure, full-time non-tenure, and part-time non-tenure. "One thing that is emerging," Curley said, "is a significant number of full-time, non-tenure-track faculty, forming an intermediate, mixed class between the tenure track and the part-time non-tenure track."
Some Assembly members questioned whether this trend signals the erosion by attrition of the tenure system. "It seems to the [study group] that it does," Curley said.
While non-tenure positions seem to be here to stay, Curley acknowledged, the extent to which they should be used at the U-M is a complicated problem. "It is a very difficult matter to decide whether, on balance, the use of non-tenure-track faculty is a positive engagement for the University."
Improving diversity on campus
Charles B. Smith, professor of pharmacology, presented three recommendations of the Committee for a Multicultural University that would help faculty improve diversity on campus.
Conduct a study on the role of faculty in recruitment and retention of underrepresented minorities to identify successful or promising strategies.
Have the Committee for a Multicultural University take an advisory role to expose faculty to different options in recruitment and retention.
Form a faculty professional development committee that would pay careful attention to the conditions that minorities encounter at the U-M.
'Faculty must remain vigilant'
"One thing I have relearned as chair is that our academic freedom is more at risk today than ever before," D'Alecy said in his closing remarks. "The message today is the same as it was [when I ran for this position in 1995]. The faculty must remain vigilant and fight for participation in the governance of the University. We must get past what is legal, and fight for what is right. We must get past what is necessary, and do what is good . . . Do it."