The Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs is calling for faculty to apply to a new committee charged with aiding U-M’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Members of the COVID-19 Faculty Council will be asked to communicate with their colleagues to gain perspectives that can then be shared with the administration, according to an email the faculty group sent out Oct. 6.

The council will meet twice a month on Friday mornings throughout the academic year with President Mark Schlissel and Provost Susan M. Collins to bring forward ideas, discuss concerns, consult and advise on issues arising from the pandemic and its effect on campus. The first meeting is scheduled for Nov. 6.

The COVID-19 Faculty Council will include up to 16 people, with 12 seats dedicated to Faculty Senate members (including two librarians), two seats dedicated to clinical faculty, and two seats dedicated to lecturers.

Nominations are being accepted through Oct. 12. Faculty Senate members and clinical faculty can apply through a link that was included in the email SACUA sent to both groups of faculty on Oct. 6. SACUA has asked the Lecturers’ Employee Organization to submit the names of two representatives.

 SACUA is the executive arm of U-M’s central faculty governance system, which also includes the Senate Assembly and the Faculty Senate. It will select the council’s members during its Oct. 19 meeting.

“The Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs (SACUA) is pleased to have the opportunity to select a diverse group of COVID-19 Faculty Council participants who will have the opportunity to meet regularly with the President and the Provost regarding faculty concerns,” SACUA Chair Colleen Conway said in an email.

“We feel it is important to assure as many voices being brought forward as difficult decisions are made and we look forward to announcing the members of the council after Oct. 19.”

The council will engage with the administration on a wide variety of issues, including the health, safety and well-being of the campus community; the pandemic’s impact on teaching, learning and the personal and professional lives of faculty members; issues regarding diversity, equity and inclusion, including accessibility; and the intersection of the pandemic with other forces of unrest affecting the campus and beyond.

During the Oct. 5 SACUA meeting, Collins said faculty input will play a key role in the decisions that are made about plans for the 2021 winter semester.

She also said she hopes the council’s members reflect a broad spectrum of experiences and backgrounds.

“From our perspective, getting a range of different views is part of the goal,” she said.

In a message sent to the U-M Faculty Senate last month, Schlissel said he recognized the need for greater communication and engagement with faculty regarding various issues including COVID-19. The new council will allow administrators to “get regular feedback and share new information with representatives of the broader faculty community,” Schlissel said.

“There aren’t simple answers in confronting COVID-19, and information can change very quickly — but we are a community that will best address this together through collaboration and transparency,” he said.

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