[The following report was presented to the UTK Faculty Senate on June 2, 1975.]
President's Interim Report
The purpose of today's meeting is to hear the Chancellor tell us of the State of the University. We appreciate his willingness, not only now, but throughout the year, to share with the Faculty his views and information. In order not to infringe on his time I'm presenting only an abstract or outline of my own report to the Senate and Faculty. This summer, during the remainder of my term of office, I intend to write a series of articles for The Beacon on matters which are merely touched on in the following paragraphs.
The Faculty Senate moves in mysterious ways. I have observed at least three kinds of motion: response to administrative requests; activity initiated by faculty proposals; and the continuing scheduled chores of the major committees. Of course there were also decorative or distracting arabesques which embellished the scene but defy definition.
This year the Senate has been asked by the Administration to assist in the following tasks: preparing material for the new Hill Topics and Faculty Handbook; reviewing the Role and Scope Statement of the Knoxville Campus; preparing the University System Self-Study; clarifying for the Knoxville Campus the new plan for Faculty Development adopted by the Trustees; providing input into meetings of the President's Faculty Counselors through its president; supplying faculty views to the Master Plan of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission; interviewing candidates for high administrative positions; reviewing for the Chancellor a case involving matters of tenure; and studying the procedures, past, present and future, of the Department of Safety and Security. Each of these matters has involved the Senate officers, the Executive Committee, and, where appropriate, particular committees. A great deal of time was properly spent in responding to such requests.
Faculty initiative was not stifled, however, under this heavy load of faculty-administrative interaction. Here I hasten to insert my opinion that recent administrative requests for faculty advice are indicators of fair weather in what has been for some time a good academic climate! Among matters that the Senate and its committees originated were the resolutions concerning fringe benefits recently transmitted to the administration, the ad hoc committee for Women Faculty, the statement on comparative compensation, the expanded and authorized role of the Budget Committee, and the recent formation of an ad hoc Committee on Financial Exigency. Such innovative activities will, I believe, bear fruit in times to come.
Standing committees of the senate are badly misnamed. They "don't just stand there!" Since you have had sometimes voluminous reports from the Graduate and Undergraduate Councils, the Research Council, the Fringe Benefits Committee (formerly the Retirement Committee), the Faculty Affairs Committee, the Library Advisory Committee, and others, and since you will be hearing from the Calendar Committee, the Athletics Committee, and other committees at future times, I merely remind you that most of these groups made up of senators, other faculty administrators, and students, have worked hard and have done an excellent job of maintaining the educational function of a university in their respective policy-making areas.
Do you expect me to specify "decorative or distracting arabesques"? From the chair's vantage point, let me reminisce succinctly. I recall two lapses (you will recall others) in my own chairpersonship. Once reading aloud my notes on a committee selection, I saw that I had left out the name of a friend who was sitting right in front of me. I blocked on her name, embarrassingly for me, certainly. Another time I was so delighted that a senator had made a "call for the question" in the proper form--he "moved the previous question"--that I rudely interrupted a continuing discourse among other senators. I apologize, but for me these two awkward events were illuminating and educational. Once (and once only, so far) I lost my temper and expressed rather strongly a personal opinion. Again, apologies from the chair to the senator whose behavior so irritated me! I hope the Senate will remain a place where tempers can safely flair, and mistakes can be made and acknowledged.
I'd like to mention two more things that have helped the Senate. First, student interest in Senate activity has been high. The presidents of the Student Coordinating Council and The Academic Council are valued members of the Executive Committee. Student members of the ad hoc Committee on Student/Faculty Rights and Responsibilities showed insight, persistence, and what seemed to me extraordinary tact in helping produce the document that now, after approval by three student groups, "lies on the table." (I hope the faculty, after due deliberation, will eventually accept this statement). My personal experience with student leaders has been valuable to me and to the Senate. Second, the Beacon has faithfully reported Senate activities. I realize that much faculty business holds little interest for the student readers of the Daily Beacon, but some matters, such as proposed grading systems, the academic calendar, and the sensitive issue of charges made against the Department of Safety and Security, received a great deal of coverage. I think the reporters were careful and accurate. When the ad hoc Committee on Financial Exigency defines its task and erects its working structure, I hope it will receive the Beacon's benign scrutiny!
Up to now, this has been a busy and productive year for the Senate. I congratulate you all, and look forward to a summer of further progress.
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