Faculty Senate hears from resolution backers, Schlissel, Collins


President Mark Schlissel and Provost Susan M. Collins spoke during an Oct. 4 Faculty Senate meeting that included faculty members criticizing aspects of the university’s pandemic response.

Several Faculty Senate members spoke in favor of five resolutions that have been submitted for Senate consideration. No faculty members spoke against them. Four proposals are related to the pandemic, and one deals with how the university addresses sexual misconduct.

Voting on the proposals was to start after the meeting ended and remain open for 48 hours.

The pandemic-related resolutions urge the university to:

• Direct Work Connections to validate and support all medically supported requests to work remotely, and create a process for appealing Work Connections decisions.

• Increase COVID-19 testing frequency to twice a week for unvaccinated people and adjust a prompt on the ResponsiBLUE symptom-tracker app.

 • Re-evaluate and adjust its policy for in-person instruction to better incorporate faculty input.

• Provide employees who care for young children with additional support, including the option to move their teaching or office work online if their children cannot attend school in person. 

 “I think we have a responsibility to do everything we can to ensure that we keep our community and ourselves safe,” said Miranda Brown, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and professor of Chinese studies, in support of the motion about testing frequency.

A fifth resolution calls for the university to adopt measures related to sexual misconduct, including requiring faculty or administrative search committees to gather written statements from committee members disclosing details about known or suspected allegations of misconduct.

Watch a video of the Faculty Sentate meeting. The presentation of resolutions begins at the 11:50 mark.

Schlissel and Collins spoke to about two dozen people in the Law School’s Honigman Auditorium, as well as those watching online. More than 550 people registered to participate in the meeting via Zoom. The public also was able to view a livestream of the meeting.

Both university leaders said it felt good to be back on campus this fall, and highlighted several recent in-person events and programs.

Schlissel said while students are happy about the return of in-person instruction, he recognizes that faculty and staff continue to feel anxieties around the pandemic.

He referred people to an email he sent last week regarding the proposals, and said he and Collins are working to address the issues that the proposals have raised.

 “We continue to work on these concerns and hopefully continue to work on them collaboratively with you all,” he said.

Also in this week’s voting, Faculty Senate members will choose a new secretary and parliamentarian.

Former SACUA chair Colleen Conway, professor of music education, and former SACUA member Deirdre Spencer, a librarian, are running for secretary. Paul Fossum, professor of education at UM-Dearborn, is running for parliamentarian. 



  1. Silke-Maria Weineck
    on October 5, 2021 at 8:09 am

    Had President and Provost actually attended the meeting rather than showed up to read newsletter prose out loud, they would have heard about more than a dozen of their colleagues traumatized by Work Connections, a unit in which both professed confidence, without, it appears, having taken the time to speak to any of its victims.

  2. Rebekah Modrak
    on October 5, 2021 at 8:43 am

    The President and Provost chose not to listen to any speeches but their own, thus missing two faculty describing being infected with COVID in the classroom, despite the protections of KN95s. They missed the description of an instructor who lost four organs to cancer and is petrified to be in the classroom, to the point of migraines and panic attacks. Work Connections declined her doctor’s letter stating that she must be virtual. Another instructor is currently in chemotherapy. Declined by Work Connections. A professor suffering from Long Covid, with terrifying and unpredictable symptoms that leave her almost completely depleted. Declined by Work Connections. A professor in her third trimester of pregnancy. Declined by Work Connections. President Schlissel did not take the time to stay and listen to these stories, and he continues to affirm that all of Work Connections’ decisions are justifiable.

    The President made these assertions in Honigman Auditorium, mask-less, after asking those present if it would be ok for him to unmask, and without considering the fact that many of the faculty present are asking for greater COVID protections, and without seeming to understand that the power differential is such that no one was likely to object.

  3. Michael Atzmon
    on October 5, 2021 at 9:47 am

    President Schlissel issued last week a widely-publicized rebuttal to the motions before the Senate. It is wholly inadequate. The motions, President Schlissel’s rebuttal and the movants’ responses can be found at this link: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1hPDheJMD9ytQVwE9jh4_FKJULNqd1Fk6Un_4u-d4NA4/edit?usp=sharing

  4. Kirsten Herold
    on October 5, 2021 at 9:52 am

    I agree re Work Connections. It is really unconscionable that they have denied some of these people, and very rudely too, I might add, accusing our faculty of being overwrought malingerers. This conduct is nothing new (I have represented LEO members in their dealings with Work Connections for the past 16 years), but COVID has really highlighted what before was a few isolated incidents, albeit still a pattern. I can testify that they ROUTINELY (ie more often than not) override employees’ own doctor’s recommendations, with no explanations, other than that they expect the doctors to take their patient’s side. They are also vindictive against anyone who dares to complain, for instance to their union, and they are accountable to no one. It is very disappointing that the University leadership uses Work Connections’ own talking point in responding to these very legitimate complaints.

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