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SACUA chair tells regents of recent successes, challenges ahead

Positive relationships with U-M's administration have helped the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs (SACUA) conduct its business in 2002­03, but there are many issues that still need attention, the committee's chair says.

Dr. Charles F. Koopmann Jr., associate chair of the Otorhinolaryngology Department and chair of SACUA since May, gave the committee's annual address to the Board of Regents Nov. 14. He said SACUA has had an ambitious agenda so far this year and he looks forward to improving communications with the regents.

"President [Mary Sue] Coleman has been supportive and is committed to maintaining a good relationship between the faculty and the administration," said Koopmann, who also praised Paul N. Courant, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, for his support. "Our interactions with her [Coleman] have been quite collegial and we look forward to a long and productive association."

Koopmann said the committee got off to a good start during the summer with a pair of retreats designed to review SACUA's 2001­02 activities and develop an agenda for the upcoming year. He said the August retreat featuring Coleman, Courant and Laurence B. Deitch, chair of the Board of Regents, was beneficial to the committee and created open, frank dialogue.

Koopmann told the regents that SACUA and the Faculty Senate have hosted a number of successful events this fall, including Prof. Catharine MacKinnon's Academic Freedom Lecture and a forum for the candidates seeking election to the board.

At its Nov. 11 meeting, SACUA approved the creation of the Jackie Lawson Memorial Award. The award is named for the former SACUA chair and professor of English at U-M­Dearborn who passed away Jan. 8, 2001, during her term in office. It will be awarded to a faculty member who displays exemplary commitment and service to faculty governance.

"She is missed by all that had the pleasure of meeting and working with her," he said.

Koopmann said SACUA has approved changes to Grievance Review Board procedures when deans or directors are respondents to grievances. He said committee members John Gobetti, SACUA vice chair and professor of oral diagnosis-dentistry, and Stan Berent, chief psychologist and director of the Division of Neuropsychology, worked closely with Associate Provost Valerie Castle. The changes soon will be circulated to the various schools for input, he said.

SACUA is in the process of discussing other issues on campus, he said. Among them are the new Prescription Drug Benefit plan scheduled to go into effect Jan. 1. SACUA invited several University officials to its Nov. 4 meeting to answer questions about the selection of Advance PCS as U-M's prescription drug vendor.

"These changes are a source of great interest and concern to both faculty and staff at the University of Michigan," Koopmann said. "SACUA and the Faculty Senate will be closely monitoring the implementation of the new policy and addressing problematic issues as they arise."

Many of those officials, including U-M Benefits Director Marty Eichstadt; Prof. Jeoffrey Stross, chair of the Pharmaceutical Benefit Advisory Committee; and Pharmacy Manager Keith Bruhnsen, will answer questions at the Nov. 18 Senate Assembly meeting.

Koopmann said SACUA continues to evaluate the change in faculty composition at the University, including the rise in the number of non-tenure-track faculty. He also said SACUA hopes to be involved in any financial decisions made as a result of the expected budget decrease from the state.

"We hope to have a major say in how money is allocated to programs, existing and new, so that existing, meritorious programs are not disadvantaged in preference to new, unproven ones," Koopmann said.

Koopmann also said that child care is a concern of many faculty and staff.

"In a time of budgetary constraints, this will be an issue to our University community," he said. "We hope to work with the Human Resources Office to evaluate various solutions to this situation, with careful attention not only to the costs but also the methods of payment for services provided."

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