The University Record, December 13, 1999

Faculty Perspectives

Faculty Representation on the University of Michigan Senate Assembly

By Ronald J. Lomax, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and Chair, Rules Committee

In fall of 1998, SACUA asked the Rules Committee to examine the implications of representing Clinical Faculty, additional Research Scientists, Lecturers and Instructors on Senate Assembly. The motivation for this was that growth in these positions is leaving a large group of people unrepresented and that the Provost’s office was also interested in this issue. This article is based on that study. The original report is available on the Faculty Senate Web site,

At the time of finalizing this article, the Provost has announced a proposal for significant revision to the Regents’ Bylaws that could accelerate the growth of non-tenured appointments, namely extending the title of governing faculty to Clinical II, Research Scientist and Senior Research Scientist ranks, and permitting appointment to Clinical and Research Scientist ranks in all units. Both of these would be subject to policies and bylaws of individual units.

Groups to be Considered

The groups who are currently represented on Senate Assembly are:

  • Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, Professor

  • Assistant Research Scientist, Associate Research Scientist, Senior Associate Research Scientist, Research Scientist, Senior Research Scientist

  • Associate Librarian, Senior Associate Librarian, Librarian

  • Curator, Curator of Slides and Photographs

    For at least the last few apportionments of seats by unit on Senate Assembly, only individuals with at least 50% total university appointment have been counted. In the case of Research Scientists, current Senate Assembly rules count only those with 100% appointments. For this study we retained the requirement of at least 50% total university appointment, but have considered the following groups in addition:

  • Clinical Instructor II, Assistant Clinical Professor II, Associate Clinical Professor II, Clinical Professor II

  • All Research Scientist titles listed above with total appointments of at least 50% but less than 100%

  • Instructors

  • Lecturers


    Table 1 shows the distribution of Senate members by unit that was used for the 1999–2002 reapportionment (columns 2 and 3), as well as the distribution of unrepresented groups by unit (columns 3 to 8). Included in the Clinical Professors column are Clinical Assistant Professors II (232), Clinical Associate Professors II (51) and Clinical Professors II (14). The Research Scientist column includes those with at least 50% but less than 100% appointments: Assistant Research Scientist (31), Associate Research Scientist (8), Senior Associate Research Scientist (5), Research Scientist (12) and Senior Research Scientist (8). The Lecturers column also includes LS&A Lecturer I (75), II (75) and III (82). Instructors are split into two columns, Clinical Instructors II and all others, since the former dominate the numbers.

    Average total university appointments of individuals in these groups are shown in Table 2 together with minimum and maximum appointment fractions for each category. Most appointments are at or close to 100%. Research Scientists with 100% appointments, by far the majority, are already represented, so the average appointment fraction for the unrepresented research scientists in column 2 of Table 2 is much lower than for the other listed groups. Of the lecturers, 28 out of 544 had appointments above 100%, with the average of these being 118%.


    The unrepresented groups make up a body that is close to a third of the current apportionment count of the Senate. The figures show that the groups that would make the most difference to the Senate Assembly are Clinical II track of Medicine, and Lecturers in LS&A and Medicine, which comprise about 70% of the total. Including all the rest would make only minor changes at most. If total membership of Senate Assembly is maintained at 73 as now, Medicine membership changes from 14 to 17, Engineering changes from 7 to 6, LS&A changes from 16 to 15 and Information changes from 3 to 2. Other units do not change.

    One could consider increasing the size of Senate Assembly. As an example, consider increasing the number of members proportionately to the increase in people who would be represented. This gives an Assembly size of about 96. On using the same apportionment algorithm, Medicine changes from 14 to 25, Engineering from 7 to 9, LS&A from 16 to 22, Business from 2 to 3, Music from 2 to 3, Dearborn from 4 to 5 and Flint from 3 to 4, with no changes in other units.

    One way of considering the impact of additional representation is in terms of what it would take to have a majority in a Senate Assembly vote. Currently, Medicine and LS&A combined are 7 members short of a majority. With the expanded representation, when the size of Assembly remains at 73, they would be 5 members short of a majority, and with the size at 96, they would be only 2 members short. While these units may not get together in this way, given less-than-perfect attendance at Senate Assembly meetings, both units could play a more dominant role if changes are made along any of these lines. The main problems arise because of the large disparity in numbers between the largest and smallest units, and because most unrepresented individuals belong to the two units which already are largest. The trend appears to be toward growth of Lecturer and Clinical Professor II tracks relative to the tenured tracks, mainly in Medicine and LS&A, and these two units may reduce the other units to inconsequence within a few years. Medicine, in particular is poised to increase the clinical appointments fast enough to swamp all the other units.

    Throughout this study, we counted equally individuals who have at least 50% appointments. Another approach would be to count individuals with less than 100% appointments with lower weight, half for example. This is currently done with research scientists who have zero weight if they have less than 100% appointments. However, Table 2 and the data from which it is derived show that most appointments of unrepresented groups are 100%, so resulting figures would not change dramatically from those given.


    In view of the recent proposal from the Provost’s office, mentioned at the beginning, it should be emphasized that the current Regents’ Bylaws distinguish between professorial staff and governing faculty. Explicit addition of all Clinical II Faculty and Research Scientists to the governing faculty does not automatically make them members of the Senate. Further, even under the new proposals, it would be necessary for units to change their bylaws to extend the franchise within their unit to any groups who would be represented on Senate Assembly.

    It is not clear what sentiment exists in Senate Assembly or among the disfranchised to make changes, but the Rules Committee recommended a longitudinal study of appointment trends and their projected consequences before any major changes to the composition of Senate Assembly are enacted. Given the implications suggested by this study, if it turns out that Senate Assembly has a strong desire to provide representation to Clinical Faculty or other groups, there would be less imbalance by maintaining the size of Senate Assembly, but allowing for a larger electorate.

    Of more long-term importance than imbalance of representation, and needing discussion in Senate Assembly and throughout the University, is the continuing dilution of tenure as increasing numbers of non-tenure track appointments are made. It is instructive that the number of Senate members used for Senate Assembly apportionment in 1993 differed only by 3 from the 1999 figure, but in 1993 there were only 103 clinical faculty total, and all but 16 had zero percent appointments.

    Table 1: Distribution of represented (Senate members) and unrepresented groups by unit. Research scientists listed have less than 100% appointments; those with 100% appointment are already included as Senate members. Column 2 shows the 1999–2002 apportionment.

    UnitNumber of Assembly MembersNumber of Senate MembersClinical Prof IIClinical Instruct IIResearch ScientistsLecturersInstructorsUnrepresented TOTALAll TOTAL
    Arch & Urban Planning23713441
    Business Administration21141919133
    Natural Resources & Env2412243
    Public Health2107336113
    Public Policy14226
    Social Work24511247
    UM Dearborn42223737259
    UM Flint317233134206

    Table 2: Summary of appointment fractions for people in currently unrepresented groups.

    PositionAverage AppointmentMinimum AppointmentMaximum Appointment
    Clinical Track II (including Instructors)95.8%50%100%
    Research Scientists (<100% only)68.4%50%97%
    Instructors (excluding Clinical)95.6%53%108%