Two faculty members with backgrounds in education and engineering will soon join the executive committee of the University of Michigan’s central faculty governance system. A third faculty member to join the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs will be decided in a runoff election.
The Senate Assembly, which consists of 74 elected faculty members from the Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint campuses, voted for the two new SACUA members via virtual ballot, with results announced March 22.
The top vote-getters were Alex Yasha Yi, professor of electrical and computer engineering in the College of Engineering and Computer Science at UM-Dearborn, and Vilma Mesa, professor of education in the School of Education and professor of mathematics in LSA.
Their terms begin May 1, filling two of the seats held by Allen Liu, Kentaro Toyama and Sergio Villalobos-Ruminott, whose terms end April 30. SACUA members serve three-year terms, with a third of the seats up for election each year.
The faculty member to fill the third seat is still to be decided. The vote resulted in a tie between Heather O’Malley, assistant research scientist of pharmacology in the Medical School, and Shanna K. Kattari, associate professor of social work in the School of Social Work and associate professor of women’s and gender studies in LSA.
A tie-breaker vote will take place March 23-24 via virtual ballot, with the winner announced March 24.
At a Senate Assembly meeting March 20, Yi and Mesa delivered candidate statements outlining their goals and university issues they hope to tackle as SACUA members.
Yi, who will be the only SACUA member representing the Dearborn campus, said he believes the Faculty Senate should continue to uphold its fundamental objectives to advocate for faculty viewpoints to foster a healthy environment for the university.
“The shared governance and academic freedom are keys for more diversity, equity and inclusive environment, and promoting communications between faculty and other groups on campus,” Yi said.
Mesa said building trust and transparency in the relationship between faculty and university administrators is crucial.
“Our university as an institution is facing many challenges from within and from outside. We do need to engage in transparent decision-making processes with input from everybody and all the stakeholders,” Mesa said. “I have a lot of experience working with faculty, and I am not afraid of asking questions.”
Other candidates on the ballot were:
- Zora Djuric, research professor of family medicine, Medical School; research professor of nutritional sciences, School of Public Health.
- N. Reed Dunnick, professor of radiology, Medical School.
- James W. Gulvas, senior associate librarian; acquisition librarian and order unit manager, U-M Library.
- Niko Kaciroti, research scientist, Department of Pediatrics, Medical School; research scientist, Department of Biostatistics, School of Public Health.
- Donald S. Likosky, Richard and Norma Sarns Research Professor of Cardiac Surgery, Michigan Medicine.
- Merle Rosenzweig, informationist, Taubman Health Sciences Library.
- Quentin Stout, professor of computer science and engineering, and of climate and space science and engineering, College of Engineering.
SACUA is the nine-member executive arm of U-M’s central faculty governance system, which also includes the Senate Assembly and the full Faculty Senate. The Faculty Senate consists of all tenure track professorial faculty, research faculty, librarians, executive officers and deans of each school or college.