Faculty Senate to have seat dedicated to ACFs

Analicia Haynes, Editor-in-Chief

The Faculty Senate approved a proposal that created a dedicated seat on the Senate for Annually Contracted Faculty.

The position will be a three-year term with all ACFs voting in the Senate election for the person to fill that seat.

Jeffery Stowell, the Senate vice chair, said if the dedicated seat is not filled at any time, the Senate will follow the current language in the bylaws to fill the vacancy.

He said if the seat remains vacant for less than a year then the Senate will just “plug somebody in there,” but if the seat remains vacant for longer then the Senate will have to hold another election for the next regular cycle.

“The language we already have for vacancies will fit this scenario,” Stowell said. “We don’t need to craft additional language.”

Stowell said anyone considering a position on the Senate will have to be in their fourth semester of employment at Eastern before running for any of the elected positions, which would include the new ACF position.

Todd Bruns, the Senate chair, brought the proposal to the table and said it is a way to give ACFs a voice on the Senate.

He said when he traveled to the different departments asking them what was “on their mind” and bringing those concerns and conversations back to the Senate, he learned from ACFs that they were “very excited” about a dedicated seat.

Although he thought the proposal was a way of opening the door wider for ACFs, Stowell said he thought it was missing an incentive to get ACFs to want to be on the Senate.

“There’s a reason why each of us serve on this committee, and it’s probably not just out of the goodness of your heart … there’s an incentive it influences either our promotion and tenure or our professional advancement increase in some way,” Stowell said. “There is an incentive, and I don’t think that’s there (with the new proposal).”

Stowell said as of right now, any Unit B faculty member can run for any of the 14 seats on the Senate, and if there was an incentive for ACFs to join, he said he does not think there needs to be an “artificial seat” that is separate from the other 14.

Bruns said he disagreed with Stowell and said the incentive is having that dedicated ACF seat because it becomes the voice or the representation for ACFs.

But Stowell said he did not see historical evidence of interest from ACFs wanting to join Senate, but Bruns said it was because there was not a dedicated seat for those faculty members.

“That makes all of the difference, really, because they see that as, ‘This is our voice,’ versus right now,” Bruns said. “Yes, they can run for any of the at-large seats and they can serve, but there’s something about saying this is their voice.”

Jon Oliver, a Senate member, agreed with Stowell and added that although he is willing to support Bruns’ premonition, there is a possibility that the ACFs Bruns met with just told him what he wanted to hear during his department visits.

Billy Hung, the Senate recorder, agreed with Bruns and said the incentive is the guaranteed seat.

“I think we’re making this a very mindful and purposeful inclusion as opposed to just opening the door and letting everyone come in; we’re sending out an invitation saying, ‘Would you please join us,’” Hung said. “I think there’s a difference.”

Oliver recommended having a special election instead of approving the proposal immediately in order to see which ACFs were interested in order to “truly bring attention to this opportunity.”

“Could we not publicize this and have a special election vote, first week we’re back, late August so all the ACFs who are interested (in running) will know what their status would be because they will be (hired and on campus) by the second meeting they could join and serve throughout the end of the year,” Oliver said.

He said this because of the concern regarding the fact that the proposal calls for a three-year term, but ACFs base their employment at Eastern on an annual contract, meaning there is no guarantee that the contract will be renewed fro the total three-year term.

“It’s just a thought, this one position, special election, every fall,” Oliver said.

Overall, Oliver said though he is willing to follow Bruns’ proposal he is concerned that no matter what the Senate does, they will not be able to stimulate a response from ACFs.

“As (Stowell) said, there’s no going back at this point and now two years down the road do we have trouble every year filling this seat and we have to rely on the alternative mechanisms to fill that seat,” he said.

Bruns said there might be value to that, but he said he is concerned about the message it would send.

He also said the Senate is being overly cautious.

“I think we already have an abundance of evidence that when there isn’t a dedicated seat you really have no reason to be here, they don’t,” Bruns said. “But when there is a dedicated seat then it feels like, ‘I represent ACF,’ and that is enough to get them excited to do it.”

The proposal passed. Stowell and Oliver voted no.

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