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Governance Restructuring Committee

Governance Restructuring Committee

November 5, 2007

Governance restructuring blog

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 1:56 pm

Welcome to the Governance Restructuring Blog. The Faculty Senate’s Governance Restructuring Committee has submitted recommendations to Faculty Senate. Faculty Senate voted to approve these recommendations on August 28, 2008.  You can find the recommended revisions to Faculty Senate Bylaws on the menu at the left, as well as the recommended representation on UGC and GC (councils under Faculty Senate).  You can also view the minutes of committee meetings and look at some of the resources that the committee used in its deliberations. Public meetings to discuss these recommendations will be held on Thursday, September 18, and Friday, September 19, from 4:00 to 5:30 p.m. in Barnett 2217. A facultywide vote will be held during the last week of September; the vote will be conducted electronically.

Feel free to join the dialogue by reading and posting your own comments - there is a link for comments at the bottom of each post. You can subscribe to this via RSS feed by clicking the RSS link at the bottom of the left menu.

13 Comments »

  1. I would like to take issue with the statement in the minutes that, as I read it, takes it as given that members of the administration must be voting members because of their unique position on the many issues that will arise. I do not believe that an administrator must have a vote in order to be expected to participate in a discussion, or to provide information when requested. As a matter of fact, I believe that an administrator who does not actively participate in discussion and give useful feedback on her area of expertise if asked (by a faculty-only senate) isn’t doing her job!

    A faculty senate should REPRESENT THE VIEWS (varied as they will be) of the FACULTY. It should, of course, have regular dialogue with members of the administration, but to have administrators vote would dilute the faculty voice. In my experience (18 years) this has happened repeatly at Truman. (I’m sure many faculty senate members will say that their vote was not influenced by the presence of the vice president at a meeting–that’s true for many folks, but I believe that it is NOT true for a number of people.) This is not about the most effective way to get information from the administration–you don’t need votes for that–this is about power and about a TRUE representation of faculty interests.

    Of course, the board of governors has a rule that the president has a vote on all campus committees. We could either try to get them to change that, or we could just accept that there will be one administrative vote on the faculty senate to comply with that rule. But I see no need to have more than that one administrative vote.

    I believe that, to be effective, the faculty senate should meet regularly with ONLY faculty members present, but it should actively seek input from administrators and others frequently.

    If we ending up having more than that miniumum of one voting administrator, then, at least, we should change the name from FACULTY SENATE to something else. Let’s be honest!

    Comment by Peter Rolnick — December 10, 2007 @ 4:52 pm

  2. I hope the main focus is better teamwork and communication between departments.

    Comment by Jason Skoch — December 10, 2007 @ 11:29 pm

  3. Shells within shells…. Peter’s remark about “power and about a TRUE representation of faculty interests” seems so clear it’s only worth adding that the Faculty Senate inhabits a larger network or system, wheels within wheels, so that power is always compromised–hence the importance of Faculty Senate being itself.

    My innovation here is to suggest on behalf of the College of Arts and Sciences that Faculty Senate consider the blessing or curse it would be for it to have its own shell of faculty governance–a counsel akin to (replacing? competing with?) Undergraduate and Graduate Counsels. This may not be the best solution but it seems to me to be a necessary function of the uber-reorganization, that we rethink the levels at which and the functions for which counsels themselves are constituted.

    Comment by Chett Breed — December 11, 2007 @ 1:45 pm

  4. Peter Rolnick is absolutely right. A Faculty Senate should be a Faculty Senate. I do not know why any administrator would even want a vote on the Faculty Senate. Such an arrangement makes no sense, and it makes a mockery of faculty governance.

    There are some things that are traditional to Kirksville that do not need to be traditional to Kirksville. The divisional system was one of those; administrators with vote on Faculty Senate is another.

    –David Robinson (History, Vice-President of Missouri Council of AAUP)

    Comment by David Robinson — December 14, 2007 @ 11:56 pm

  5. Doesn’t the College of Arts and Sciences deserve its own central forum for faculty discussion and deliberation of policy? Undergraduate Council, broadly speaking, is too broad. If there is a College of Arts and Sciences, as reorganization has dictated, then where is its body for self-governance? Isn’t it now only UGC or the meeting of department heads with the Deans, neither of these quite right?

    Is the Faculty Senate’s amendment of bylaws the place to establish the policy of a common hour for university-wide faculty meetings, leading to the likelihood of renewed interdisciplinary and inter-departmental liaisons and more robust esprit de corps among an entire faculty easily calling itself to various “divisional” and rarer common deliberations?

    Comment by Chett Breed — April 11, 2008 @ 10:05 am

  6. Isn’t point IIg of the proposed by-laws (requiring release time for faculty senate members) likely to be totally unworkable given the existing budgetary pressures and the 16:1 mandate? I have no doubt that the majority of departments on campus will not be given permission to hire a temporary to cover this release time and that other faculty in the department will have to cover it. Won’t this be a hardship for the other department members? In addition, what do faculty senate members do (the executive council included) that justifies this amount of release?

    Comment by J. M. McCormick — April 11, 2008 @ 11:01 am

  7. It seems to me that this revision is a rearrangement of the deck chairs on the Titanic. Perhaps the revisions would make more sense to me (and others who will read and be affected by them) if they could be put into context that justifies the changes. How do the changes relate to the University’s need (as called for in the A&S report) for administrative and bureaucratic agility? How do they enhance our ability to communicate internally?

    For example, II.a.i grows the size of Faculty Senate, right? Shouldn’t we be scaling down in both Senate and UGC? This could be achieved by having Senators and UGC representatives selected by faculty though campus-wide (or college-wide, or multi-unit) elections. But current members of faculty governance, who are operating this year without a mandate from the faculty, have not presented this as an option for us to consider. Many would agree that the current (and proposed) structure protects departmental turf and works against genuine interdepartmental understanding and conversation. Yes, it served what was, but does it serve what we need to become?

    Comment by J. Miller — April 12, 2008 @ 7:24 am

  8. It seems to me that this revision is a rearrangement of the deck chairs on the Titanic. Perhaps the revisions would make more sense to me (and others who will read and be affected by them) if they could be put into context that justifies the changes. How do the changes relate to the University’s need (as called for in the A&S report) for administrative and bureaucratic agility? How do they enhance our ability to communicate internally?

    For example, II.a.i grows the size of Faculty Senate, right? Shouldn’t we be scaling down in both Senate and UGC? This could be achieved by having Senators and UGC representatives selected by faculty though campus-wide (or college-wide, or multi-unit) elections. But current members of faculty governance, who are operating this year without a mandate from the faculty, have not presented this as an option for us to consider. Many would agree that the current (and proposed) structure protects departmental turf and works against genuine interdepartmental understanding and conversation. Yes, it served what was, but does it serve what we need to become?

    Comment by Jason Miller — April 12, 2008 @ 2:28 pm

  9. I couldn’t agree with J. Miller more. It seems to me that we have been way too territorial in the past with little to show for it. We should consider a representative structure that selects those who reflect our thinking and concerns regardless of department. It is time that we start considering ourselves as one unit with common concerns, not a division of many narrow interests.

    This is an opportunity to think innovatively and liberally. Let’s consider a structure that is truly reflective of our liberal arts mission rather than trying to squeeze a new departmental structure into an already overloaded and unwieldy Senate and UGC.

    Comment by Wynne Wilbur — April 12, 2008 @ 7:40 pm

  10. 1. I have some concerns about proposed bylaw IIg stipulating that senate members must have a 1/3 teaching assignment. One relevant issue is that there is simply no campus standard for a full-time teaching load. What will be the denominator in this calculation? 12? 9? Also, some chairs and other faculty members already have significant release time from teaching and may elect to participate in other important but non-teaching activities such as grants and special projects. I would not like to see them excluded from consideration. I would recommend that the 1/3 requirement be eliminated.
    2. I realize that the senate will determine the charge for the new Planning & Priorities Committtee, but it might be a good idea to provide some details about
    what this group will be doing. If nothing else, it would provide a historical record of the thinking at the time.
    3. I would recommend that inactive graduate programs have the option of having a member on the graduate council. Faculty time is very precious and to elect someone and require them to attend a monthly meeting when their discipline does not even support an active graduate program seems burdensome and unwise.
    4. Several comments have already been made about havng a voting administrator on the senate. I think it is a board policy that the president or her designee sits on the senate, but I could be wrong on that. If I am correct, I think it would not be a positive message to go to the board and try to get that changed, particularly during a period when cooperation, collaboration, and in some cases, relatively quick responses will be required to appropriately address the external threats to the university. It takes a great deal of time to familiarize myself with the issues, attend the meetings, etc. However, I think it is best for the university that there is some administrative presence at these important meetings in order to move things along. At present, the provost’s representative to the senate routinely provides a summary of senate actions to the deans, associate deans, and associate vice presidents. Everyone is aware of the current issues taken up by the senate, at least to some degree. If that group had no knowledge of the relevant issues and explanations of what was proposed by the senate (and why)—I think things would take much longer than they do now.

    Comment by Sam Minner — April 13, 2008 @ 11:32 am

  11. I have concerns about the size of faculty senate, as research shows that groups over 15 are too big for real deliberation. Anyone who has been on UGC knows the lack of real discussion of issues, and anyone who has worked with faculty senate before and after the last change should see that we need smaller bodies, not larger.

    I am also bothered by the lack of a definition of who is a faculty member. At many schools, it is defined as “any position requiring a graduate degree.” We seem to define it as, “any one who is in an academic department, plus some librarians.” That seems overly restrictive. Given the charge for more integration with the co-curriculum, a call to change the culture of campus, the increase of interdisciplinary work, etc., excluding so many people from the definition of faculty cannot be helpful.

    Both problems seem rooted in the idea that representation can only happen from people who are in an area similar to their own. I see no evidence to support that assumption, and have often felt better represented by people with quite different backgrounds to my own.

    As to Peter’s comment, I think that the fact that no bill can pass without the Provost and President’s signature already means that they both should get a vote, so they can influence debate without resorting to a veto.

    Comment by Scott Alberts — April 15, 2008 @ 10:00 am

  12. As I have read the comments on this blog, listened to my colleagues and reflected on my, albeit short, time here, I keep asking myself, what’s the point? As in, what is the point of faculty governance at this university? From what I can see it is little more than a rubberstamp for approving courses and is the major impediment to all new, creative or otherwise interesting ideas that somehow threaten the interests of the entrenched, priveleged few.

    The university faces many daunting problems. What has the faculty governance bodies done to address them? Since the day I stepped on this campus I have heard nothing but complaints about the LSP. The curriculum is the responsibility of the faculty, and by extension, its governing bodies. Yet our governing bodies have done essentially nothing and continue to dither away opportunities in endless, pointless debates. We have a problem attracting students. While that in part may be due to our location (BTW, location doesn’t seem to have hurt Grinnell, Williams or any other elite liberal arts school), isn’t it more likely that we have an unattractive product (i. e., the curriculum and co-curriculum)? So again, it comes down to a curriculum that is not that enticing to a prospective student, which is our (i. e., the faculty’s) responsibility. We cannot assume that Admissions or the administration will solve these problems. Based on reports, and my own experience, of faculty members refusing to meet with prospective students and the mediocre presentations on visit days, do we have anyone to blame for this but ourselves? Why hasn’t Faculty Senate worked to fix this? Why hasn’t it addressed the faculty’s role in the problems that face the university? Some of the faculty, the ones who contribute to their departments and to the university, are poorly paid. But there is a substantial number of faculty who do little more than show up (often late) for class, go through the motions of teaching, and do little for the common good. Yet these people draw salaries that far exceed their worth in terms of their contributions to the university. What has the Faculty Senate done to raise the pay of those faculty who are actually productive and to hold the unproductive accountable?

    The answer to all these questions is the same, and very simple, NOTHING. So, what is the point of faculty governance (I use the term “governance” with some degree of sarcasm, because it very clearly has nothing to do with what actually happens)? Faculty governance is irrelevant, and a waste of resources. We are trying to fix a relic of another age that probably can’t be fixed. Do away with it entirely.

    Comment by J. M. McCormick — May 1, 2008 @ 7:18 am

  13. Professor McCormick represents my general misgivings very eloquently. Those who have used the old governance system in obstructionist ways probably intend to use the proposed “new” one in the same ways. And we will be lucky if anyone else ever takes an interest in faculty governance. Still, I hope that some new people, and certainly new ideas will prevail.

    In the 21st century we could have a faculty senate consisting of ALL faculty (voting electronically from time to time), with powerful and useful committees, whose composition could change from time to time. Powerful, entrenched interests and senate members that serve for decades do nothing but harm our institution.

    Follow me, ye old and graying folk! Step aside; give way to the future!

    Comment by David Robinson — September 12, 2008 @ 2:57 pm

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