Welcome to the 2008-09 Faculty Senate

To the new senators, welcome to what I hope will be an interesting and engaging experience at shared faculty governance. To our continuing senators, I hope that you will have found your “sea legs” and will become even more involved in enhancing the functioning of the senate at UNR. Our president, interim provost and incoming provost have all been active members of faculty senates during their careers, and each demonstrates a notable willingness to collaborate with the senate. As chair, I sit on the President’s Council, while the chair-elect, Elliott Parker, sits on the Academic Leadership Council. More than at any other time in my memory, the faculty, though its senate, has access to the administration as the university grows and evolves. As you know, the senate is advisory to the administration. The degree to which that advice is influential is dependent on how thoughtful it is, not necessarily whether our advice is consistent with preexisting ideas the administration may have. I genuinely believe we can influence many important decisions about how our campus functions and matures.

A wide variety of issues will present themselves to the senate this year. Some we can anticipate while others will manifest themselves with little notice. Before you now are the recommendations from the Academic Standards Committee. These recommendations were outlined at the May senate meeting, but action on the recommendations were tabled until the June meeting. These recommendations are crucially important to the academic functioning of the campus. You must thoughtfully consider your position on each of the recommendations. You may accept them in part or whole, reject them in part or whole, or modify them as the senate deems appropriate. Regardless of the senate’s decisions, I want to thank the members of the ASC and the chair, Louis Marvick. The Faculty Senate blog is a reasonable place to “think out loud” with the other senators about these recommendations.

Speaking of the blog, it is in its infancy. It will be up to the senate as to how to best utilize this tool. As chair I have no special interest in keeping the blog closed to only senators or necessarily make it open to all faculty. That is a discussion for the whole senate. Senators can start their own blogs as well. My interest is in helping the senate succeed in its mission. It remains to be seen as to how a blog can best facilitates that goal.
In order to keep this post brief, I will raise only one last issue. As you are probably already hearing, additional budget cuts to higher education are likely. At this point, I believe UNR is already running as leanly as it can. That means that if additional cuts must occur, it is likely they will have serious consequences for the university. The senate will keep as involved in any budget discussions as we can. Last year we participated in a plan that was intended to preserve positions and classes. The administration actively sought our input, and we agreed on strategies the Board of Regents ultimately accepted. We will again be involved in those discussions. By the time we next meet, the Board of Regents will have met, and I will give you an update. In the meantime, you might want to begin discussing this issue with your constituents.

One Response to “Welcome to the 2008-09 Faculty Senate”

  1.   jstrauss Says:

    I think we should open the blog to all faculty after the “beta” period is over and we’ve figured out how to best use it — perhaps at beginning of fall semester. Transparency is a good thing. /Judy

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