Four faculty members elected to serve on SACUA


Four faculty members with backgrounds in biostatistics, philosophy, art and Latin American studies will soon join the executive committee of the University of Michigan’s central faculty governance system.

The Senate Assembly voted electronically March 21 and 22 to elect the following members to the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs:

  • Tom Braun, professor of biostatistics, School of Public Health.
  • Simon Cushing, associate professor of philosophy, UM-Flint.
  • Rebekah Modrak, professor of art and design, Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design.
  • Sergio Villalobos-Ruminott, Professor of Spanish and Latin American studies, LSA.

Each member’s term begins May 1.

Top vote-getters Braun, Cushing and Modrak will serve three-year terms, succeeding three SACUA members whose terms are expiring: Sara Ahbel-Rappe, professor of Greek and Latin in LSA; Elena Gallo, associate professor of astronomy in LSA; and Donald Freeman, professor of education in the School of Education.

Villalobos-Ruminott will serve the remaining one year of Vice Chair J. Caitlin Finlayson’s term. Finlayson, professor of English literature at UM-Dearborn, is stepping down early to pursue an upcoming sabbatical/research leave.

In a candidate statement, Braun indicated his desire to serve the nine-member body, which advises and consults with U-M executive officers on matters that impact faculty, to help mend recent wounds.

“The past two years have also exposed to me how fractured our university has become,” he said. “We need to resolve these past years of disappointment, disconnect and anger and create an organization that is open to changing in response to criticism and is working toward creating all that can be good in academia.”

As a faculty member at UM-Flint, Cushing said he wants to work toward providing better representation of that campus.

“I would like to reverse the current top-down model and fight for a better university experience for our students, who are slowly returning to campus desperate for an in-person pedagogical experience that has been denied them these past couple of years,” he said.

Modrak said she hopes to address challenges within the Equity, Civil Rights, and Title IX Office and the lack of third-year committee-led reviews implemented by other universities.

“Enacting these and other goals requires more committed and inquisitive faculty in positions such as SACUA membership,” she said. “On SACUA, I would continue to amplify the concerns and interests of all faculty.”

Villalobos-Ruminott seeks to ensure diversity and fair representation on SACUA.

“Diversity ranging from gender, race, sexuality is a fundamental component of higher education, and I am fully committed to securing that diversity beyond merely formal and performative actions,” he said.

SACUA, Faculty Senate and Senate Assembly comprise U-M’s central faculty governance system.

The Faculty Senate consists of all professorial faculty, librarians, full-time research faculty, executive officers and deans. The Senate Assembly consists of 74 elected faculty members from the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses.


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