A majority of faculty members who answered a survey about mandatory COVID-19 vaccination at the University of Michigan believe the vaccine should be required for all students, faculty and staff, with limited medical and religious exemptions.
The survey results also showed most respondents believe that if U-M does not mandate vaccination, instructors should be able to opt out of in-person instruction in the fall.
Currently, U-M requires vaccination only for students planning to live in residence halls and other university housing.
“The fact that an overwhelming majority of our faculty who responded believe that vaccine mandates are necessary to ensure the safety of our students, faculty, staff and community, that’s a great message,” said Faculty Senate Chair Allen Liu, who supports a vaccine mandate. Liu is an associate professor of mechanical engineering, of biomedical engineering, and of biophysics.
Liu sent the survey last week to members of the Faculty Senate — all professorial faculty, librarians, full-time research faculty, executive officers and deans — as well as clinical faculty and lecturers on the Ann Arbor, Flint and Dearborn campuses.
Among the Faculty Senate, 1,484 out of 4,297 members responded, with 1,305 (89.1 percent) saying they support making vaccinations mandatory for students, faculty and staff. Among clinical faculty, 487 out of 2,024 clinical faculty members responded, with 418 (88 percent) saying they support a mandate. Among lecturers, 399 out of 1,169 responded, with 331 (85.1 percent) favoring a vaccine requirement.
Asked if instructors should be able to opt out of in-person teaching if there is no vaccine mandate, 76 percent of Faculty Senate members who responded, or 1,054, said yes. Among clinical faculty, 67.3 percent, or 288, said yes. For lecturers, 89.5 percent, or 333, favored the opt-out provision.
Liu said he shared the survey results with President Mark Schlissel, Provost Susan Collins and Board of Regents Chair Jordan Acker. Liu said Schlissel thanked him and said he and members of his team are continuing to consider other possible mandates.
U-M officials have been strongly encouraging students, faculty and staff to get vaccinated and voluntarily report their vaccine status to the university.
“We appreciate our faculty governance colleagues for engaging in this important issue for our community,” university spokeswoman Kim Broekhuizen said. “While there are many complex factors as we consider any changes to our current approach, we know that the approved COVID-19 vaccines are highly safe and effective. We ask our faculty and staff to get vaccinated and report their vaccination status to help our campus stay safe and return to the activities we all enjoy.”
In an email sharing the survey results with faculty members, Liu also strongly encouraged them to report their vaccination status via Wolverine Access.
This is not the first time faculty members have expressed support for a vaccine mandate. In April, members of the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs and the Senate Assembly endorsed a resolution encouraging the administration to mandate vaccines with limited legally mandated exceptions.
SACUA is the executive arm of the university’s central faculty governance system, which includes the Senate Assembly and the Faculty Senate. The Senate Assembly consists of 74 elected faculty members from the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses.
Liu said he believes making the vaccine mandatory with limited exceptions is the best way to keep people safe and allow the university to return to a more normal in-person semester.
“In my opinion, I think vaccination is currently the most effective tool for us to come back from the pandemic,” Liu said, noting that vaccines weren’t yet available last year at this time. “Now that we have this great tool under our belts, we have to use it to our advantage.”