Faculty Senate discusses shared governance


Brooke Schwartz | The Daily Eastern News

Bailey Young is a history professor and a member of the Faculty Senate. The senate decided to have one more meeting this semester on May 3 from 10:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Brooke Schwartz, Administration Reporter

A proposal for a new shared governance plan presented at the latest Faculty Senate meeting would keep the number of senators the same but include senators on other campus committees.

Vice chair Jeff Stowell, a psychology professor, originally showed a shared governance plan, which included a much larger Faculty Senate, during previous meetings. This other plan had members of other campus committees on Faculty Senate to make inner-committee communication easier.

However, after bringing the plan to many committees for review, Stowell decided to update the proposal.

The new proposal has 15 senators on Faculty Senate but would make it so there are senate positions which would be full voting members on other committees such as a possible general education committee, the Council on Academic Affairs, the Council on Graduate Studies, the Council on Teacher Education and potentially the Committee for the Assessment of Student Learning.

Stowell said there are two main positives to this plan.

“(This) would, number one, allow the senate to have input on important curricular and assessment matters, and second, it would help these committees who seem to be losing people almost constantly,” Stowell said.

Faculty Senator Billy Hung, a biological sciences professor, said he is worried about the time that would be required of these senators who would be serving on two full time committees.

“We’d have a closer communication between the Faculty Senate and these important committees, (but) what I do worry about is the workload involved,” Hung said. “It (would) tax the service capacity of our faculty, to say the least.”

Stowell said it would be more work, but he does not think it would be asking too much of the senators.

“I would argue that it more evenly balances the service workload across the committees, that for example at Faculty Senate, there could be those that just come every couple weeks and have important discussions and commitments and comments, but (CAA, CGS, COTE, CASL) are the workhorses of our university, and I think if we are going to (expect better communication), then we got to be willing to invest something in them ourselves,” Stowell said.

The senate voted in favor of creating an ad hoc implementation committee to help Stowell investigate the best ways to implement the plan campus-wide. This committee is staffed by C.C. Wharram, director of the Center for Humanities, and music professor Stefan Eckert.

Faculty Senator Teshome Abebe, an economics professor, voiced more concerns about the provost’s proposed college restructuring, specifically his plan to combine the College of Arts and Humanities with the College of Sciences to create the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

“I think I am the only one on campus that has some issues with the proposal. Everyone I talk to, including my senate colleagues, seems to think this is fine, it’s good. And I have no objection to it from a philosophical point of view,” Abebe said. “I still think that the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is too big. When I look at the program evaluation that (Eastern President David Glassman) started a few months ago, and the interception of Faculty Senate did a very good job to correct some of those problems, I look at those programs that have been identified for some kind of action, now populating that huge college. When is the promise of changing the status of those programs going to happen?”

Gatrell said he thinks the combination will allow for more collaboration and will not put programs previously labeled as needing to be enhanced or adjusted at risk of being buried.

“I see the creation of the liberal arts and sciences college as a real opportunity to celebrate new intersections between arts and sciences, but also to create, in some ways, a unit that is robust and has a complex mix of programs that I think are mutually informing,” Gatrell said. “It also avoids the creation of a very small unit with lots of small programs that might be on that list.”

At its last meeting on May 3 from 10:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., the senate will discuss an appropriate response to the restructuring plan.

Also at the meeting, philosophy professor Grant Sterling was elected as the Faculty Senate chair for the upcoming school year, Stowell will keep his position as vice chair and Hung will become the senate recorder.

Brooke Schwartz can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].