Presentation to UT Board of Trustees
By Katherine Greenberg, President, UT Faculty Senate
October 5, 2001
I thank you so very much for allowing me to talk with you for a few minutes this afternoon. On behalf of the faculty, I welcome you to UT.
My role as President of the Faculty Senate began about 10 weeks ago. I have learned so much about what to say and NOT say when interviewed by the media, about how to lead a very large faculty with many different views. Most of all, however, I feel much of the time like I am stuck in a revolving door, seeing the faculty view on one side and the administrator view on the other, and once in awhile, getting a tiny glimpse of the board's view.
Last Sunday, I heard a story that made me think about the lesson that lies underneath these views. It was a story about three neighbors: a Muslim, a Jew, and a Christian. One Friday, the Christian was walking past the Muslim's home and noticed that the fence was in need of repair. He knew his neighbor was at the Mosque, and he decided to surprise him by repairing the fence. When the Muslim returned home, he was amazed to find his fence repaired. "Oh my goodness!" he said, "The angels must have come down from heaven and repaired my fence. It is a miracle!" The next day, the Muslim was walking past the Jew's home and noticed that his barn had been freshly painted--but not quite finished. He knew his neighbor was at the Synagogue, and he decided to surprise him by finishing the painting of the barn. When the Jewish farmer returned home he exclaimed, "Oh my goodness!" It's a miracle! The angels must have come down from heaven and finished the painting of my barn!" Then it was Sunday and the Jew was walking past the Christian's home. He noticed that half of the grass in his yard had been cut, and the other half was left undone. He knew his neighbor was at church, so he decided to surprise him and finish mowing his yard. When the Christian returned home he looked at his yard and then exclaimed, "Oh my goodness, it's a miracle! The angels must have come down from heaven and finished mowing my yard!" On Monday, the three neighbors just happened to gather at Star Bucks for coffee. They started talking and pretty soon began to realize how the miracles had occurred. They learned something important that day. They discovered that angels don't always have to come from heaven. The can be in the person next door.
You know, the faculty, the administrators, and the Board of Trustees share a most important goal: providing the best university we can for the people of Tennessee.
We are in this together. And, no matter how good the Board members are, or the administrators are, the educational experience of our students is as strong or as weak as each individual faculty member whose courses or research lab they come in contact with.
So what is going on with the faculty on the Knoxville campus?
In closing, I want to invite you to get to know the faculty better--to see if you can find some angels inside of us. Bob Levy reminded me this week about the time, about 12 years ago, when Trustees came to campus and spent a day with students, learning about their life on campus. What if Trustees came to campus and spent a day with a faculty member, developing an understanding of the life of the faculty--and helping us understand the perspective of Trustees. What if we did this? Would we see the angel in each other a bit better? We are in this crisis together. We need each other more than ever. And, I am pleased to have this opportunity to thank you for all you do for the University--and for the future of Tennessee.
- Faculty members who are familiar with what is happening are pleased with the search process. We have confidence in Carolyn Hodges. We sense the integrity of the process. And this is so important. Without this integrity, faculty would be suspicious and cynical--and this would not be a good start for a new president to become the great president we all want her or him to be at UT. Faculty understand that you, our Board of Trustees, has the ultimate responsibility for selecting a president, but we do want a place at the table during the process. Those of us serving on the Advisory Council believe we have that place. And we thank you.
- Faculty morale is not what any of us would want it to be. Awareness of the financial crisis is more and more evident. It is difficult to walk the thin line of thinking about how weak we are becoming in many ways, helping Tennessee understand the need for adequate funding of higher education--all of education, and still feeling pride in our university. But I am getting to know some wonderful, good citizens of UT--faculty, administrators, retired faculty and administrators, students and staff who are finding ways to help build awareness of the need for adequate funding.
- The Faculty Senate is engaged in several activities to help raise awareness.
- We have passed a resolution about the need for adequate funding and sent it with an accompanying letter to all Tennessee lawmakers.
- We have encouraged other Faculty Senates to do the same.
- We are joining with these other Faculty Senates across the state, beyond the UT campuses to all 4 year + institutions. Some of us will attend a meeting in early November with other Faculty Senators.
- We have joined with our student associations on campus, with very good student citizens, to sponsor tours for legislators in East Tennessee where they will hear stories from faculty, students, and staff that reveal the real crisis we are facing. And we are co-sponsoring a forum for Senator Rochelle on October 15th in which we intend to pack the Shiloh room with faculty, students and staff to talk with Senator Rochelle about the need for a change in funding.
- And, faculty members are working more closely, more collaboratively with administrators under the leadership of President Fly and Provost Loren Crabtree. We recently held a first ever retreat with more than 100 faculty and administrators working together to develop action plans that will help us improve the quality of the University. It was exciting to see how many of the plans could be acted upon without increased funding. This is helping to raise morale.
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