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Faculty Senate: A Top Priority for All Faculty
OK, so it is a very busy time in the academic year and many of us can only get to our top priorities. Reading this newsletter may seem kind of low on the list, especially if a colleague down the hall is "doing that" for your unit. But stop and think about it: The Faculty Senate has well-established channels for information gathering about university affairs. It is our mechanism for a university-wide professional learning community of faculty--a vehicle for sharing faculty perspectives with each other and with the larger university community.
What can you do to keep up with Faculty Senate activities? Several ideas come to mind: Talk regularly with your Senators and attend our monthly meetings. Everyone is welcome. Check out the wealth of current information, meeting dates, and archives on the Faculty Senate website. Join and participate in the Faculty Senate listserve. Read and contribute to the Faculty Senate newsletters for 2000-2001 coming to you in September, November, February, and April. They provide several services:
- message from the President of the Faculty Senate
- easily accessible resource information (Senators/Officers/Committees & Chairs)
- a written forum for the sharing of ideas by any faculty member (newsletters # 2-4)
- articles about key issues and projects
Message from the President
On May 18, 1970, the University Senate--predecessor to our present Faculty Senate--held a special meeting on the subject of University governance. The minutes of that meeting, which are on the Senate web site at web.utk.edu/~senate/University-Governance70.html, record the following contributions:
Thirty years later, the Senate continues to debate the roles of faculty and students in governance, the qualities of an effective Senate, the place of service in the faculty workload, and the ability of faculty to affect University decisions. It's even the case that Howard Pollio is still in the Faculty Senate.
- Allen Keally quoted UT Chancellor Weaver as saying, "The faculty is the University, and the students are the reason for its existence."
- LeRoy Graf reviewed the history of governance at UT and concluded that (in the language of the minutes) the ideal Senator "combines conviction with reasonableness and has the ability to speak, and willingness to listen, a concern for his own college and program, and a sincere devotion to the University as a whole."
- Howard Pollio argued that in a revised Senate structure the number of student members should equal the number of administration members, and that Senate service should be recognized by pass-fail credit for students and by release time for faculty.
- Charles Patterson criticized a recently-formed university council on the ground that its members, though able, were not chosen by the faculty and so the council lacked legitimacy.
The Senate returns to these issues because they are central to our professional lives and because we can make substantial contributions to decision making. Under Mary Papke's leadership last year, the Senate revised policies for evaluation of teaching and evaluation of administrators, instituted a rational program for review of faculty salaries, helped to save the jobs of some tenured faculty at the UT Medical Center in Knoxville, and performed the less visible work of reviewing curriculum changes, hearing faculty grievances, and studying programs for advising and tutoring of student athletes.
We will try to match that productivity this year, as the Senate considers UT's use of contingent employees in teaching, develops proposals for a faculty sabbatical program, monitors the formation of New College, and supports efforts to enhance the land-grant campus as a center for research and teaching.
The names and contact information for Senators from the colleges, schools, and institutes are posted at web.utk.edu/~senate/Members.html. Please share your ideas and concerns with your Senators and help us to maintain a strong faculty role in University governance.
Senate Web Site
Bookmark the Faculty Senate Website address: web.utk.edu/~senate/.
Bob Glenn did a fantastic job of organizing this website last year, and is continuing to keep it updated even during this very busy year as our president. It allows us to immediately share important information, and provide easy access to past records and documents like the Faculty Senate bylaws. If you want to compare your perceptions of the Faculty Senate over the years with the actual record, check out our website.
Faculty Sound Bytes: An Invitation
All faculty are invited to submit brief comments reflecting personal perspectives on a specific topic for publication in the November, February, and/or April Faculty Senate newsletters. The comments need to be limited to a specific topic related to some aspect of Faculty Senate focus. They will be a bit like letters to the editor published in Time or Newsweek magazines and may focus on reactions to recent Senate activities or ways to help the Senate maintain a proactive stance. Send sound bytes to Kathy Greenberg. All published sound bytes will include the author's name. Author permission will be sought for any needed change in sound bytes prior to publication. Come on! Share your thoughts and ideas with us.
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