The University of Michigan Faculty Senate met in a hybrid format in the Alexander G. Ruthven Building to discuss Meeting of the Senate extension permission admit clinical professors, archivists and curators as well amendment to include teachers. The University Senate will later vote on whether or not to approve the resolution and amendment, and if approved, the Board of Regents will decide request to update bylaws of the Faculty Senate.
The permissionthe first passed The Senate Assembly on April 24 would expand the Senate Assembly to include assistant professors, associate professors and full clinical professors. It would also give librarians, archivists and curators their own “library” group of three seats in the assembly, bringing the size of the assembly to a total of 77 seats.
The resolution also stipulates that each squad will be limited to 17 members. It also says that only faculty members will have the right to vote on “tenure-related matters,” such as tenure-track promotion, retention or benefits specific to faculty and faculty.
Bruno Giordani, a professor of psychology and former chair of SACUA, spoke in favor of the resolution at Thursday’s meeting. Giordani said he believes the Faculty Senate should represent all faculty.
“There is a constant counterpoint that … SACUA and the Senate are not standing up for all teachers,” Giordani said. “To borrow a phrase, problems observed in one faculty track will be solved only in cooperation with all groups of teachers. We simply cannot change this unless we speak together. Let’s be one voice and stop hearing that SACUA truly does not speak for all educators.”
Bethany Moore, chair of the School of Medicine’s Department of Microbiology and Immunology, also supports the resolution and said she believes clinical faculty should be included in the Senate because they are important elements in the education and training of medical students.
“Clinical faculty are critical to the success of all the educational and research missions on our campus,” Moore said. “In a medical school, these teachers play a very important role in both the didactic training of medical students and the professional training of students at many levels. In addition, many of the clinical track faculty are directly involved in research.”
Librarian Sherle Abramson-Blum said she has attended many Senate meetings despite not being a member and supports the resolution to include librarians, archivists and curators.
“I’m always horrified by the number of library patrons who don’t have that right (to be a member),” Abramson-Blum said. “When I see some of these vote counts, there are a lot of people trying to make decisions and very few of those people show up. … We all have to trust each other, and a lot of it comes down to, ‘I wouldn’t vote on tenure issues if it didn’t have anything to do with me.’
Yi-Lee Wu, assistant professor of women’s and gender studies, opposed the resolution as written, saying that while she agreed with the intent of the resolution, she felt concerned about the exclusion of faculty members. To address this issue, Wu introduced an amendment to add lecturers to the groups of people to be included in the Senate expansion.
“The Statute of Regents defines the term faculty as members of the teaching and research staff, and it states that “administrative faculty shall include instructors and faculty with half-time appointments or more, and may include clinical faculty,” Wu said. “I think if we’re going to include clinical faculty, we should also include faculty known as faculty, especially because they’re so important to our mission.”
The Senate Assembly voted a few suggestions for various options for restructuring the Senate. Proposition 2: Expanding the Senate, which would require future membership changes to require a two-thirds vote instead of a simple majority, was chosen as the restructuring system through the ranked-choice voting system.
The current voting schedule allows for a vote on a faculty amendment first before voting on a resolution. However, unless the faculty amendment passes, it will require a two-thirds majority if a similar extension is considered in the future.
Wu said the change to how members vote will make it more difficult to add faculty members to the Senate Assembly in the future.
“This resolution creates new rules that will discriminate against faculty,” Wu said. “This current proposal will pass if we get a simple majority of voters. It will then change the rules to make it harder for other people to enter. Now changing the rules to make it harder for other people to be included, I think that’s the opposite of DEI.”
Silvia Pedraso, a professor of sociology and American culture, said she opposes the amendment because faculty members are already represented Organization of teachers.
“I oppose faculty inclusion because they already have what others are looking for with Senate expansion: effective representation,” Pedraso said. “They are represented by a good trade union, teachers’ organization. Over the years LEO has been instrumental in securing good benefits for its members and representing them very well.”
Art and design professor Rebecca Modrak expressed her disagreement with Pedrasa, arguing that LEO and Senate are two different organizations.
“(This argument) against faculty inclusion and expanding the faculty senate seems absurd and made in bad faith,” Modrak said. “Collective bargaining deals with wages, hours and working conditions. Although there may be some modest overlap from time to time, the two entities are completely different.’
Shanna Katari, co-author of the amendment and associate professor in the School of Social Work, said they support the amendment and the resolution because it will increase the diversity of voices represented in the Senate.
“The clinical faculty and faculty teach a large number of classes at the university,” Katari said. “As noted, a large percentage of these educators also have marginalized identities, including through disability, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, and neurodiversity. Their diverse life experiences are critical to our classrooms and to the entire mission of our university.”
Voting on the faculty inclusion amendment will be open to all members of the University Senate until May 28, and results will be tallied on May 30. Voting on the resolution will then be open until June 3, with results announced on June 5.
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