To show some of the ways in which the University of Michigan meets this criterion for reaccreditation, we focus this section on four types of actions that its faculty, students, staff, administrators, and Board of Regents take: through policies, the commitment of funding, the use of space and facilities, and through recognition.
The University publishes policies about both the rights and responsibilities of members of the University community with regard to our commitment to a learning environment in which inquiry is respected and people have certain articulated rights.
Fundamental Tenets Statement
In 1990 the Senate Assembly adopted a statement that articulates the fundamental tenets of the University as a community of learning—both the rights and responsibilities of its members. In view of the statement’s importance and how closely it links to this core component, we provide it here in full. Although not official policy, this statement is testimony to the University’s commitment to creating a community and environment of continuous learning. The statement also appears in the Faculty Handbook.
Statement on Freedom of Speech and Expression
A key policy related to the topic of an open and welcoming University environment is a statement the University’s Civil Liberties Board adopted in 1988: the Statement on Freedom of Speech and Artistic Expression: The Rights and Obligations of Speakers, Performers, Audience Members, and Protesters at the University of Michigan.
This policy affirms the University community’s commitment to freedom of speech and artistic expression in support of people who represent the entire spectrum of opinion in the community and out of a desire to create a truly open forum in which diverse opinions can be expressed and heard. Through these guidelines, the University seeks to maintain an environment in which the free exchange of opinions can flourish and where the learning that such exchange makes possible can occur, with the expectation that members of the community will observe the limits of mutual tolerance that the guidelines embody.
Openness in Research Agreements
Supporting openness in research agreements, the regents adopted the Regents’ Policy Concerning Research Grants, Contracts, and Agreements (Standard Practice Guide 303.1 ) in 1987 to guide the University when considering any secrecy stipulations by a research or scholarship sponsor. This policy is another example of our commitment to a community of learning—in this case ensuring that others outside the University can, within reason, benefit from the work that University faculty, students, and staff undertake.
This regents’ policy states that the mission of the University is to generate and disseminate knowledge in the public interest, based on two fundamental principles: open scholarly exchange and academic freedom. Normally, these principles are mutually supportive. When they conflict, the University follows a balanced approach by taking into account both the University’s mission and the public interest. The University also has a longstanding tradition of conducting research aimed at enhancing human life and the human condition. Given these principles and continuing tradition, the regents’ policy governs the acceptance of research grants, contracts, or agreements by the University.
Faculty Members’ Outside Employment
As expressed in Regents’ Bylaw 5.12 Outside Employment the University encourages faculty involvement in outside activities, including consulting, when the work enhances the faculty member’s value as a teacher or scholar in ways that he or she could not accomplish inside the University, when the work is of a public nature, or when for any reason the University supports the faculty member’s involvement in outside activities. However, the work must not constitute a conflict of interest or a conflict of commitment. Bylaw 5.12 assigns responsibility for creating specific guidelines for outside employment to the governing faculties. This policy also reflects the University’s commitment to lifelong learning by encouraging the faculty to stay engaged with others outside the University, an important factor in their continuous learning and renewal.
Standard Practice Guide 201.30-2 Sabbatical Leave governs such leaves for the University’s tenured faculty members. The function of sabbatical leaves is to give faculty members an opportunity for an intensive program of research and/or study, thus enhancing their effectiveness to the University as teachers and scholars. Here, too, the University’s commitment to lifelong learning for its tenured faculty is clear.
Staff Development Philosophy
Another example of the University’s commitment to lifelong learning is the Staff Development Philosophy that the University’s executive officers have adopted, which includes the text below:
Standard Practice Guide 201.69 Tuition Support Program provides tangible support for this staff development philosophy. The goal of this policy is to increase the career opportunities available to staff members at the University of Michigan, to enhance the performance of staff members and their units, and to encourage professional growth. In addition to partial tuition support, the policy also encourages supervisors to make reasonable efforts to make appropriate work schedule accommodation to allow staff members to enroll in courses when the courses they need are scheduled only during regular work hours. This policy, too, demonstrates the University’s commitment to lifelong learning for its staff.
Although not governed by a specific policy, the University also supports the professional development of staff by paying for and allowing staff members to attend the rich array of workshops and presentations, including those offered by Human Resource Development, which cover a wide range of topics.
For faculty members to engage in a wide variety of research, scholarship, and creativity, in collaboration with students, postdoctoral fellows, research scientists and staff, they depend on one or more sources of funding, both external and internal. As indicated above, federal funds are the largest source of research funding at the University. Over 10% of this funding is from non-federal support (i.e., from industry, foundations, and the state of Michigan), and nearly 20% is from the University of Michigan. Each year, the vice president for research presents the “Annual Report on Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity” to the Board of Regents. This report details accomplishments in research, changes in research funding, potential problems, opportunities for future work, and the goals of the Office. Annual Reports dating back to 1994 are available online.
In allocating University funds for research, a major goal of the Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) is to support new initiatives, and to provide cost sharing and seed funding that make faculty proposals to external funding entities more competitive. OVPR also provides support to faculty who conduct work in areas not typically funded by federal agencies or other groups. In FY07, this spending totaled $4.5M, with the majority of the funds matched by the proposing faculty member’s school, college, or department.
A primary source of OVPR support is the Faculty Grants and Awards program. In addition to providing bridging funds for externally supported but lapsed projects and seed funding for junior faculty members, as well as for more senior faculty members who are changing research directions, the office also strongly supports projects in the arts. In FY07, one-third of the total funding from this program alone was directed at supporting the arts and humanities, although the total external funding brought in by these fields is less than 1% of the University’s total research volume. That year OVPR provided funds through this program to 48 humanities and arts projects, from support for the production of a publication or recording, to larger grants that allowed faculty members to put on performances, conferences, and exhibits.
Another critical aspect of creating a life of learning is to recognize the academic and professional achievements of faculty, students, and staff. In this way, the University affirms its values and spotlights people who embody them. Below are descriptions of a sample of such awards.
Collegiate and Endowed Professorships
The ability to bestow collegiate and endowed professorships is a critical means for the schools and colleges, and the University as a whole, to recognize, recruit, and retain a world-class faculty that is the core of a vibrant academic community. To this end, the University has established guidelines for creating endowed professorships in six categories: deans, department chairs, visiting faculty, research faculty, and for faculty development and collegiate professorships. As of July 2009, there were a total of 1,104 professorships in place at the University: 743 endowed professorships and 361 collegiate professorships.
In her annual address to the Senate Assembly in 2006, President Mary Sue Coleman issued a President’s Challenge to raise funds for 20 fully endowed professorships. When a donor provided a gift of $1.5 million, the president matched it with $500,000 to reach the $2 million needed to create an endowed professorship. In May 2007, the University Record announced that nineteen of the 20 professorships had already been created.
To recognize and showcase the achievements of its faculty, the University has established an assortment of faculty awards. These awards are bestowed by central units that include the Office of the Provost, the Rackham Graduate School, and the Office of the Vice President for Research. The schools, colleges, and some other units also offer such awards. Information about the full range of faculty awards is available in the Faculty Handbook.
At the University-wide level, the Office of the Provost, the Office of the Vice President for Research, and the Rackham School of Graduate Studies bestow several awards on faculty and staff members:
Recognizing students’ academic achievements is important in creating an environment that celebrates excellence. Both undergraduate and graduate awards are offered by the University; examples are described below.
Undergraduate Awards and Honors
Graduate and Professional Student Awards
As conveyed in the introduction to this section, staff members at the University play many important roles in the creation of a vibrant environment that promotes life-long learning. There are both central and many unit-specific awards for staff, a few examples of which are provided below.