Report on the Faculty Senate Retreat
From Kathy Greenberg, Senate President
More than 100 faculty Senators, key administrators and special guests participated in the first ever Faculty Senate Retreat in September, 2001. The Senate Executive Committee, THEC Executive Director, Dr. Richard Rhoda, President Eli Fly, Provost Loren Crabtree, and other key administrators met for a working session on September 22nd. The session began with brief talking points on shared governance presented by Senate President Kathy Greenberg, Provost Loren Crabtree, and Professor Larry Gerber from Auburn University (a member of the AAUP Governance Committee). Then, an open dialogue took place on shared governance amongst all participants.
Results of a survey on sound governance were shared, reflecting perceptions of administrators and faculty participating in the retreat about how well our University engages in shared governance. Several challenges were identified, including a need for more communication between administrators, faculty and the Board of Trustees.
This smaller group joined with almost all Senators, Senate committee members, student representatives, and most Deans for a full day of activities on September 23rd. President Fly provided an update on the University and then engaged in conversation with participants for the first hour of the retreat. Provost Crabtree provided an overview of the Reallocation process and answered questions. A keynote speech was given by Dr. Gerber. Then, participants met for four hours in focus areas to develop action plans. More than 20 action plans were shared with the large group in the last session of the retreat that focus on needs in four areas: (1) Undergraduate Issues, (2) Graduate/Research Issues, (3) Faculty Issues, and (4) University Issues.
While an evaluation survey is currently in process, we know from the many comments that have been shared that faculty and administrators welcomed the time to focus on issues together and some administrators who were not able to participate this year want to be on the list to participate in future retreats.
So where do we go from here? The Faculty Senate Executive Committee is now in the process of determining which action plans can be accomplished this academic year. We have combined some action plans and decided that a few are already the focus of other, ongoing committees. A working draft table presenting our decisions so far is attached to this report. A bit more fine tuning is in progress. Several task forces are being established to address some of the action plans. In other cases, Senate Committees will serve as the primary entity for carrying out a specific action plan.
Two action plans will have the widest impact on our University community. The first addresses the need to establish a process with specific procedures for further shared governance. Too often in the past, task forces and committees have done good work that never gets implemented. This task force will work on ways to improve collaboration across the various faculty and administrative entities that need to be involved in order to approve policy and develop procedures for implementation. The task force will also work on ways to change the operation of the Senate to provide for better collaboration, communication, and continuity. It will also establish a procedure for continuous updating and sharing of the Faculty Handbook. Much of the work of this task force should be completed in the next few months. A second task force is being established to work on revisions in the Faculty Handbook. Marian Moffett has agreed to serve as coordinator and chair of this Task Force. Its work will most likely take two years. Input from many others and approval through Senate committees, the full Senate, the Provost and President's offices, other administrative offices, the colleges and departments as appropriate, the Office of General Counsel, and the Board of Trustees will be a part of the process.
Work will begin on more than 10 other action plans. Some can be completed sooner than others. In order to keep the University community informed about our progress, monthly progress reports will be posted on the web. Email messages will direct those interested to links for details about each plan. We will also provide links to Senators so that all faculty can easily email their representatives and share their views with the Senate.
Attached to this report is a table reflecting a work-in-progress regarding the task forces that will begin this year. In addition, we are attaching a report from the retreat regarding the action plans that were developed there. All of these reports as well as results of the survey on sound governance will be posted on the Senate website by mid October.
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