Senate talks reorganization of college representation in committees

Analicia Haynes, Editor-in-Chief

The Faculty Senate created an Ad Hoc committee to look at restructuring college representation of certain committees on campus and within the new colleges at its Tuesday meeting.

The Senate also unanimously approved institutional repository librarian Todd Bruns as the chair of the senate for the semester.

Over the summer, the Board of Trustees approved a new college structure that was introduced by Eastern’s Provost Jay Gatrell.

The new organization creates two new colleges and schools: the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the College of Health and Human Services, the School of Communication and Journalism and the School of the Arts.

However, the committees with college representation are still functioning based off of the old college organization.

Since the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences combines the old College of Arts and Humanities and the old College of Sciences, music professor Stefan Eckert and Jeff Stowell, the vice chair of the Senate, said the new college has four times as many faculty compared to the other three colleges.

Stowell said the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has 235 faculty members, the College of Health and Human Services has 62, the Lumpkin College of Business and Technology has 66 and the College of Education has 47.

Eckert said because of the size of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Senate has to look at representation and think about those sub headings and sub groups within the colleges to find equal representation.

“How do we actually think about our college now so that we have some equal representation,” Eckert said.

Stowell asked Senate members if it should leave each committee that has college representation the option of being able to determine how they want to be represented or if the Senate should establish a default mode for college representation on such committees.

C.C. Wharram, director of the Center for Humanities, said the committees should not have to go into “default mode” or function the way they did one person representing each college, since college representation will affect important committees such as those on research and curriculum.

But he said ultimately, it is a matter of talking to the chairs of these committees with college representation and asking them what they want to do.

He said the Senate could either make or suggest the decisions on this or at least have some oversight on the committees and let those in the committees make those decisions.

Bruns said the Senate should at least have a sort of overview role and that they should not leave it solely on the committees to figure it out, or he said maybe it is just a matter of working with the committees to find a solution.

Science professor Billy Hung agreed with Wharram and said it seems like a wasted opportunity if the committees default back to the College of Arts and Humanities and the College of Sciences.

“It would be nice if a new thing could emerge, but what the thing is I don’t know. If there might be some synergy or some new format of things that we can discover that might be more in keeping with the spirit of reorganization,” Hung said.

But Bruns said this would take time to figure out, with everyone agreeing.

Bruns said the Senate could offer a temporary solution for the committees with the idea of moving toward taking a look at how they could make it work.

“Right now are we going to let these major committees serve without the right necessary representation or are we going to try reorganize them and hold an election because we have to anyways to fill other vacancies,” Stowell said.

Economics professor Teshome Abebe recommended hearing from the deans or others in colleges to see what the new mission is or what the concerns should be.

“It would be nice to know what they are thinking,” Abebe said.

The Senate agreed to create an ad hoc committee that was tasked with talking to the chairs of committees with college representation and start having discussions.

He said since it is a “year of transition” that the Senate and all other committees, with the exception of the Committee of Graduate Studies because it does not have a quorum and is “hurting,” will continue as is.

Wharram, Eckert and Steve Brantley, head of reference services at Booth Library volunteered to form the ad hoc committee.

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