Chair’s Corner: goals for chair and senate

The university has a unique governance structure that many do not understand well. On budgetary matters, universities follow a traditional, hierarchical top-down model. On curricular and research issues, universities follow a bottom-up approach, in which administrators act as the agents of the faculty. On policy matters, the two share governance, sometimes uneasily.

The Senate represents the faculty, but it is not a union like the NFA. It is, in a way, like an equivalent branch of government, almost but not quite entirely unlike the Legislative and Executive functions. Whether it equal and effective depends on the people involved, and how they choose to behave.

As the new chair, my major goals are:
1. To recognize that to be effective, shared faculty governance requires a greater responsibility of faculty to look out for the long-run interests of the university, and to make reasonable and well thought-out recommendations for change.
2. To make the senate as effective as possible in working with university administration, by working cooperatively with the administration while remaining independent of it.
3. To try to turn over as much control to the senate as is practical, while doing as much with the executive board, the senate office, or on my own to be effective and responsive.
4. To make sure that shared faculty governance plays its proper role in both the development of the ISP and in any curricular review that takes place in response to the budget crisis.
5. To help shepherd through changes that will help the university continue to grow up, to learn from best practice at other universities instead of continuing to believe that UNR is somehow unique.
6. To try to fix long-standing problems in our Code, Bylaws, Manual, and practice, to make them all accurately reflect what we can and should do, to make them workable, and to make them in the university’s long-run interests.
7. To be responsive to suggestions and proposals from the senate in particular and the faculty in general, to represent them as best as I can.

I will rely on the Executive Board to make sure that my efforts are consistent with these principles. The Senate Office staff are also not shy about letting me know when I go too far or make an error in judgment.

I will also try to stay engaged with those outside the university – System Administration, the Regents, the Legislature, and the Public – to better advocate for the faculty.

I will be contacting senators through the Senate Blog – which we don’t use near as often as we should – to get input from them on what problems the senate needs to address, and to keep working on making senators know they can make a difference.

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