Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Faculty members discuss attributes for next president

Representatives of U-M's faculty governance system Monday discussed the opportunities and challenges facing the person to succeed President Mary Sue Coleman, as well as the attributes they would like that person to possess.

Members of the Senate Assembly also were urged to share their opinions later this week at public forums to gather input in the search process.


Public forums

• Sept. 26, noon-1 p.m., 100 Hutchins Hall, Law School, for faculty and staff on the Ann Arbor campus.

• Sept. 26, 6:30-7:30 p.m., Auditorium 3 (1200), Modern Languages Building, for students on the Ann Arbor campus.

• Sept. 27, 2-3 p.m., BorgWarner Auditorium, UM-Dearborn campus, for the UM-Dearborn campus community.

• Sept. 27, 5:30-6:30 p.m., Blau Auditorium, Stephen M. Ross School of Business, for the Ann Arbor community and public at large.

Those unable to attend can comment by email through Sept. 30 at

More information about the search process, the official job description and periodic updates will be posted on the presidential search website.

Part of the 30-minute discussion revolved around whether U-M's next top executive should come from a background that reflects a corporate model or an academic one.

"We want a real academic," as opposed to someone from a business or political background, said Scott Masten, professor of business economics and public policy, and a member of the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs, the faculty governance system's executive arm.

But SACUA member Dr. Charles Koopman, professor of otolaryngology, pediatrics and communicable diseases, suggested that a candidate from a business background could work out well, provided he or she also demonstrates a strong commitment to undergraduate education.

Some brought up the need for someone who values research, while others expressed a desire for a leader who would continue to tackle the challenges of reduced funding, particularly at the state level.

"I'd like to see someone come in who can effectively talk with state legislators," said David Smith, professor of pharmaceutical sciences. "I'd like someone with the leadership and gravitas to really make things happen, and not just manage systems."

Whatever the next president's focus is, the university community must work together with him or her to tackle its challenges and opportunities, said George Garcia, professor of medicinal chemistry. "We're not getting a messiah. We're getting a president," he said.

Senate Assembly Chair Karen Staller urged those at Monday's meeting, as well as all faculty members, to share their opinions with the Presidential Search Advisory Committee when it conducts a public forum Thursday for Ann Arbor campus faculty and staff. The forum is from noon to 1 p.m. in 100 Hutchins Hall at the Law School.

Staller said a strong turnout is necessary if the faculty at large wants its voice heard by the advisory committee and the Board of Regents, which will make the ultimate decision on the next president. Coleman has announced she will end her tenure in July 2014.

Masten pointed out that although SACUA had suggested a list of non-administrative faculty to serve on the search advisory committee, none was among the seven faculty members that regents named to the panel, which prompted SACUA to pass a resolution last month formally expressing disappointment with that decision.

In other action Monday, the Senate Assembly unanimously passed a resolution calling on the university to conduct reviews and modifications to its employee benefits packages in a broader and more transparent manner.

The resolution states: "Attracting and retaining the best faculty and staff, essential to maintaining the University of Michigan's reputation and status as a top public university, requires that the University remain competitive in salary and benefits. In its review and modification of faculty and staff benefits, the University has, in recent years, tended to examine components of total benefits in isolation and often under conditions of secrecy. In the interests of comprehensiveness and greater transparency, Senate Assembly urges that the University and the relevant HR committees consider benefit packages in their entirety and involve faculty in a more open and meaningful process."