President Russi sends follow up e-mail to faculty about points discussed at yesterday’s forum

By Colleen Miller

Read the news story from Thursday’s open forum here.

In an e-mail sent Friday, Nov. 20 to all faculty:


Dear colleagues,

Once again, I’d like to thank those of you who came to yesterday’s

open forum. For those of you who were not able to attend, and to

reaffirm my commitment to all faculty, I would like to recap the

discussion and suggest actions we can take to build on what I saw as a

substantive and productive dialogue.

At the root of much of the discussion was the issue of communication.

Many of you made it clear that this is a major concern. Because my

role as president has changed drastically in recent years toward

focusing on generating external resources to support your work and the

overall academic mission of this university, I can understand why

there is a perception that I have been isolated from faculty input.

I am proud to have worked to garner support to enhance our existing

academic programs and introduce more than fifty new ones, as well as

to protect our programs from cuts that have hurt colleges and

universities across the country. I can see, however, that our attempts

to maintain open and effective lines of communication have not been

adequate. We will correct this.

I also heard your concerns about shared governance. I want you to know

that through my former role as a faculty member, I can fully

appreciate the critical role that this process plays in the success of

this institution. I have worked to see that the process is followed,

and to my knowledge, it has been. That being said, no system is

perfect, and I encourage you to inform me of any incident in which

shared governance was not observed.

You may agree that the strike at the beginning of this academic year

could have been prevented if our communication had been more

effective. In this vein, I am committed to fostering dialogue that

will help to create a smoother process in the future.

To start, I will arrange regular meetings with the deans, department

chairs and association leadership. We also will open our annual

campus-wide leadership meeting to anyone who wishes to participate.

Furthermore, because I know the security system in the administrative

corridor of Wilson Hall has contributed to a perception of

isolationism, I will provide open access.

One particular issue related to communication has been the

establishment of our School of Medicine. I know that some of you feel

there has been insufficient faculty input on this matter, but I assure

you that the University Senate received all the documentation it

requested. Having said that, please be assured that I heard and

understood your concerns regarding the role of the Senate review


During recent bargaining, association representatives requested that

we also release our application to the Liaison Committee on Medical

Education (LCME). We offered to do so, but asked that it be kept

confidential for proprietary reasons. Unfortunately, we could not

reach an agreement. To resolve the concern, however, I will make these

materials, along with all medical school documents provided to the

University Senate, available to anyone who would like to review them

in Kresge Library. To make this possible, Beaumont Hospital’s

proprietary information will be redacted from the LCME application


Communication about the university’s budgetary process also has been

voiced as a main concern. While I can assure you that all university

expenditures are public information and readily available, I know

there is much about the process that may not be apparent in the

documents. To help make the process more transparent, I have arranged

for the Vice President for Finance and Administration to begin meeting

with and gathering input from the Senate Budget Review Committee.

Beyond improving communication relative to the budget, I want to

improve processes. I know our current system has been in place for

decades, and it needs to change. With this in mind, the Provost and I

have been working with the Deans for several months to make changes

that will empower the Deans to allocate resources in ways that best

serve the needs of their units.

Also in need of change is the process for purchasing the software and

equipment you need to do your jobs. We need to make it more timely and

efficient, and we will. I have asked that the University Senate

assemble a committee to review the process and recommend improvements.

Touching on concerns outside the budget, I have heard that many of you

would like to see the appointment of faculty liaisons to the Board of

Trustees. While this is not fully within my power, I can commit to

facilitating broader contact between faculty and board members.

I also know that university recognition of the LBGTA community is an

important goal. I assure you, it is one I fully support. As such, I

have instructed our Director of University Diversity and Compliance to

work in cooperation with the LBGTA ERG to develop an appropriate

policy that makes the university’s position clear.

I acknowledge that a contentious issue has been my 2008 salary

increase. In short, my family and I have decided that this should not

continue to stand in the way of efforts to resolve the concerns before

us. As such, we have elected to contribute $100,000 to the university.

We discussed many issues yesterday, and I assure you that this forum

was just the beginning.  More opportunities for discussion of issues

vital to the academic success and advancement of this institution are


If you feel there are issues yet to be addressed, or if you would like

to add to those we’ve already discussed, I hope you will share them

via e-mail or by arranging meetings with me either as individuals or

in groups. I want to hear from you. In the same spirit of cooperation,

I am making documents related to all the concerns we have discussed

available in Kresge Library. If you have any lingering questions or

doubts, I am confident these will help answer them.

In closing, I hope you’ll see that I fully support you and am

committed to nurturing ongoing cooperation. I know Oakland University

is the exceptional institution it is today because of the hard work

you do as scholars, teachers and members of the community. I thank you

for your efforts and dedication, and I look forward to working with

you as we move forward.