The University Record, November 12, 1997

Faculty Perspectives


Study Groups and Records

John T. Lehman, Chair, Faculty Perspectives Page Committee, and Secretary to the Faculty Senate, Senate Assembly and SACUA

Along with endorsement in October of a divestment policy for tobacco stock holdings and reinforcement of its 20 May 1996 Statement on Diversity, the Senate Assembly and SACUA have identified a number of emerging issues that warrant faculty attention. The issues fall within the jurisdiction of faculty governance as defined by the Principles of Faculty Participation in institutional and Academic Unit Governance at the University of Michigan. Accordingly, two new study groups have been erected, and faculty participation is sought either for direct committee service, or for advice, information and discussion.

Study Group on the Changing Nature of the Professoriate

Recent trends in staffing, including the rise of non-tenured "clinical" or "practice" professors in a number of professional schools, raise a series of questions about the changing nature of the professoriate and the future of tenure. One faculty task force will cast its attention on a range of these topics:

What is the potential impact of the growing number of Clinical Track and Research Track appointments at the university? What unique roles are served by such faculty? Are the numbers of such appointments regularly monitored and kept in appropriate balance with the number of tenured faculty? What are the possible impacts of such faculty appointments on faculty governance? Do recent trends in making such appointments represent a significant threat to tenure? Are current University procedures for monitoring, evaluation, and assigning workload activities for both tenured and non-tenured faculty adequately documented, communicated to faculty, and carried out in a fair and uniform manner? Do these procedures place appropriate value on research, teaching and service? Are these procedures changing in ways that might significantly impact the nature of the professoriate and the future of tenure?

Volunteers for this study effort are invited to contact the Faculty Senate Office at or by calling 764-0303. Comments and information can be directed to the committee e-mail group at

Study Group on Faculty Role in Undergraduate Admissions

Student admissions is identified as an area for which the faculty has primary responsibility. There is, however, an incomplete understanding of the roles that are actually exercised. This task force will establish how these stipulated responsibilities have been discharged in recent practice, and will seek an improved definition of faculty involvement in admissions policy. The critical questions for review include:

What role does the faculty currently play in undergraduate student admissions? Are any changes needed in the procedures by which faculty involvement in undergraduate admissions is obtained? Is the role of faculty in undergraduate admissions important enough to justify the existence of a permanent Senate Assembly committee on undergraduate admissions?

Again, volunteers should contact the Faculty Senate Office at or by calling 764-0303. Comments and information can be directed to the committee e-mail group at sacua.

Public Personnel Records

Early in October the Office of the General Counsel distributed an advisory memorandum to Deans, Directors and Department Heads apprising them of a new Michigan Supreme Court decision regarding the privacy of personnel records. The decision holds that the personnel records of public employees are no longer regarded as "private" under FOIA's privacy exemption. SACUA discussed the matter at its 20 October meeting, and identified it as one of great import to the faculty. SACUA has asked the Civil Liberties Board to interpret the issue and its implications. Progress and future reports on this subject can be followed through SACUA minutes published at

The Faculty Perspectives Page is an outlet for faculty expression provided by the Senate Assembly. Any member of the University Senate is eligible to submit a Faculty Perspectives essay. Prospective contributors are invited to contact the Faculty Perspectives Page Committee at faculty. Submissions are accepted in electronic form and are subject to review by the Committee. Essay lengths are restricted to one full printed page in The University Record, or about 1500 words. Past Faculty Perspectives can be accessed through the Faculty Governance web page at