Faculty Senate approves bylaw changes, picks replacement

Analicia Haynes, Administration Editor

The Faculty Senate approved bylaw changes and selected a replacement senator Tuesday.

Senator Grant Sterling said most of the proposed changes are minor and intended to clarify language that was already there or putting in things that Faculty Senate has already done.

“Last fall we finished the process of revising our constitution, so it made sense for us also to look at our bylaws,” Sterling said.

Among the proposed revisions, senators approved a revision in the way vacancies are filled in elected committees.

“Currently we’re supposed to go back to the original election and offer the position to anyone who ran for the position at the time and lost,” Sterling said.

Sterling said the current system is unclear, takes time, is subject to mistakes and has run into difficulties over the years.

“We have to figure out which people from the old election are eligible.  If no-one is, then we have to go through all the elections for that position since then to see if anyone else is eligible,” Sterling said. “Then we have to contact those people, and see if they still want to serve.”

Sterling said some key committees allow people to serve on no more than one at the same time.

“So we have to check to see if the person has been elected to another of those committees in the meantime,” Sterling said.

A new system was proposed that will be clear and flexible for the senate, Sterling said.

The revision proposes a smoother system where the senate can appoint a replacement for one year for someone whose term is ending or hold a special election for longer-term vacancies, Sterling said.

“We can choose someone who ran for the position in an earlier election but we aren’t required to do so,” Sterling said.

Senator Todd Bruns asked how the senate chooses a replacement.

Sterling said he did not put how the senate will choose a replacement in the bylaws because he wanted to leave it open so the senate will have the flexibility to decide.

Sterling said another revision is to role the function of the ad hoc committee on committees into the duties of the elections committee.

“In addition to running elections, the committee will attempt to determine whether the elected committees are actually meeting and will report to the senate if they are not,” Sterling said.

Sterling said this revision is only for elected committees, which tend to be critical committees.

Senator Amy Rosenstein asked what the senate’s role was in the governance of the elected committees and said the Senate cannot force them to meet.

“It’s my understanding that our role in this was to ensure that there was some representation of faculty on university committees and that we were a major mechanism for populating these committees,” Rosenstein said. “But that it was not our role to govern these committees and not have any authority to override their decisions.”

Bruns said the senate has the right to know whether or not these committees are meeting.

“It’s just for us to be informed,” Bruns said.

Sterling said the senate does have the ability to overrule some of the committees under their constitution.

“I was appalled to discover that we have all these committees that haven’t met for a decade or longer,” Sterling said.

Senators agreed to revise the bylaw as long as it states that the elections committee will report committees who do not meet in the interest of shared governance.

The Faculty Senate also selected a replacement senator to fill the recent vacancy in the senate after three individuals responded to the call for volunteers sent out last week.

Jemmie Robertson, the chair of Faculty Senate, said the call for volunteers was not the senate’s first option; however, because no qualified alternatives could serve, they had to ask for volunteers.

Senator Jeffrey Stowell said the senate only needed one volunteer and motioned to appoint Svetlana Mitrovski, an associate professor of chemistry, because she was the first qualified individual to respond.

Senator Charles Wharram said he felt uncomfortable about choosing the first person who responded.

Senator Stephen Sher agreed with Wharram and said responding quickly to an email is not an important qualification to serve as a faculty senator.

Robertson said he felt it is important to continue to meet quorum for the remainder of the term.

The Senate approved the replacement.

 

Analicia Haynes can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]