Four faculty members are seeking seats on the University of Michigan’s Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs.
The three top vote-getters in the March 15 election will serve three-year terms that begin May 1. The person who comes in fourth place will complete the final year of an existing term.
SACUA is the executive arm of the university’s central faculty governance system, which also 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. The Faculty Senate is made up of all professorial faculty, librarians, full-time research faculty, executive officers and deans.
Senate Assembly representatives will electronically cast their votes for the new SACUA members at 4:30 p.m. March 15 during the virtual Senate Assembly meeting. Representatives will be able to nominate additional candidates from the floor during the meeting.
The winning candidates will succeed Chair Colleen Conway, Vice Chair Annalisa Manera and members Ivo Dinov and Deirdre Spencer.
SACUA terms last for three years. However, the fourth-place finisher in the election will serve for one year to finish the remainder of Manera’s term.
Here’s a look at the candidates, based on information they submitted:
Professor of Education
Education: Harvard Graduate School of Education, Doctor of Education.
Faculty leadership: School of Education, Executive Committee; representative to the Senate Assembly; member, SACUA Tenure and Professional Practices sub-Committee.
Candidate statement: I work on educational reforms internationally, on researching and designing equitable, accessible opportunities for teacher participation. My focus is on designing, supporting, and documenting these opportunities. This may seem removed from faculty governance, however I don’t think it is. Although the specifics differ, the fundamentals are closely related: If people either don’t have opportunities to participate, or they don’t engage with the opportunities they have, the dynamic of self-determination is lost. I believe SACUA needs to be instrumental in advocating for and ensuring faculty’s participation in university life and particularly in the areas that impact their teaching, research, and employment.
Associate professor of anthropology and of Afroamerican and African studies
Education: Ph.D. in anthropology, 2003, University of California, Berkeley; Master of Arts degree in anthropology, 1997, University of California, Berkeley; Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and music, 1995, Amherst College.
Faculty leadership:Chair, Senate Assembly Committee on Anti-Racism (2020-present); chair, Department of Anthropology’s Equity and Inclusion Initiatives (2020-present); co-convener, European Association of Social Anthropologists Network: Anthropology of Race and Ethnicity (2017-present); advisory board member, ACHIEVE, LSA (2014-2017); socio-cultural anthropology subfield head, Department of Anthropology (2014-2015); director of graduate studies, Department of Afroamerican and African Studies (2013-2016).
Candidate statement: In agreeing to run for a SACUA position, I am excited to continue to think beyond the language of equity and inclusion to devise systematic ways to be sure that the University of Michigan is a place where minoritized faculty will thrive. I will also continue to address issues of sexual harassment and ableism by continuing to work toward strategies that make reporting easier and more focused on accountability and restorative justice. Systemic issues clearly require more systematic responses as well as systems of acknowledgment and support.
Associate professor of internal medicine in the Cardiac Electrophysiology Section, Medical School (No photo submitted)
Education: I am a graduate of Southwestern University (Bachelor of Science, chemistry, biology) and the University of Texas Medical School (Doctor of Medicine). My postgraduate medical training was at St. Joseph Hospital in Denver Colorado, Baylor University Medical Center and U-M.
Faculty leadership: I have been on the faculty for 22 years and was the former director of the electrophysiology laboratory and director of the cardiac electrophysiology fellowship program. I am a member of the Clinical Care Review Committee for Michigan Medicine and the Medical School Conflict of Interest Committee. I was also a member of the Rules Policy and Procedures Committee for the Faculty Senate.
Candidate statement: Being nominated for SACUA is one of the great privileges of my academic career. I can think of no time in my career where the voice of our faculty is more important. 2020 was a year of uncertainty, anxiety, frustration and even fear. Such times also bring opportunities to innovate, simplify and clarify both our individual and collective mission. We can be optimistic about 2021, and I believe that SACUA’s role in faculty governance is the best way to both understand our faculty’s concerns and be their voice to our leadership.
Valerie Castle Opipari Professor of Pediatrics, associate professor of pediatrics and of molecular and integrative physiology, Medical School
Education: Bachelor of Arts degrees in biophysics and philosophy, master’s degree in biophysics, Johns Hopkins University, 2002; Doctor of Medicine, U-M, 2006. pediatrics residency, 2009, and pediatric endocrinology fellowship, 2012, U-M.
Faculty leadership:Member, Academic Affairs Advisory Committee, 2019-present, chair from 2020-present; representative, Senate Assembly, 2019-present; associate director for Graduate Program in Immunology, 2019-present; faculty adviser in the Office of Faculty Development, Michigan Medicine, 2019-present; member of the Advancing Inclusive Leadership Committee 2015-present.
Candidate statement: I ran in the Senate Assembly election because of my interest in advocating for and representing the faculty at Michigan Medicine. My experiences with faculty development and DE&I highlighted the unique issues faced by Medical School faculty but my time on Senate Assembly and AAAC emphasized the similarities of faculty experience across campus. I have a strong interest in supporting faculty across the University of Michigan and building a cohesive community. My commitment if elected is to ensure that faculty are represented, perspectives are shared with leadership and faculty have support to carry out the missions of the University.