As we enter this busy and exciting time of the academic year, I wish you all well as you study for exams, write papers, and wrap up projects. I am also writing to bring to your attention an item of interest that you might have missed this week. As you may recall, last fall Provost Martin Philbert charged a panel of U-M faculty with exploring how faculty members’ political ideologies should intersect with their responsibilities to students. This panel was formed after a professor on the Ann Arbor campus declined to write a letter of recommendation for a student seeking to study abroad in Israel.
The panel, led by former U-M President and President Emeritus James J. Duderstadt, had four primary objectives:
- To examine relevant university policy, including but not limited to statements in the Standard Practice Guide and the Faculty Handbook.
- To gather and review relevant policy statements of peer institutions.
- To gather input from stakeholders across the university.
- To recommend how to clarify current policy or create new policy that clearly articulates institutional principles and expectations regarding this matter.
The panel held several open meetings across all three U-M campuses early this year and also solicited feedback via email and an online form. In addition, they sought input from targeted, broadly representative groups across campuses.
On Tuesday, the report of the panel was made public. As this is an extremely busy time of year, I wanted to be sure you were aware. You can read a summary of the report from the University Record and also consult the full report itself online. I urge you to do so as your schedule allows. The report makes recommendations of principle about this critical issue. I believe that further discussion of these principles can help faculty and instructors develop common practices.
I continue to acknowledge and appreciate how important this issue is to so many of you in your roles as graduate students. As I mentioned when I last wrote to you about this subject, Rackham is committed to creating a mechanism for you to discuss and reflect upon the work of the faculty panel. Later in the spring/summer, and after conferring with our partners in the Rackham community, we will share details of an event that will be convened to promote intellectual exchange about the important questions the panel addresses.
Until then, I wish you a successful conclusion to the term, and I look forward to engaging with you about the panel’s report in the months ahead.