Senate discussing ways to increase participation

12:00:00 AM CDT - Thursday, May 03, 2007

By Amy Geiszler-Jones

More than 50 faculty members are elected to serve in the Faculty Senate, but one would think the numbers are much lower after attending a few of the senate’s twice-monthly meetings.

About two-thirds of the elected senators show up at any given meeting, said Peer Moore-Jansen, a longtime senator currently serving as the senate's vice president.

The senate is composed of senators representing the six academic colleges and University Libraries.

For senate representation, the Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is divided into three represented sections: humanities, social sciences, and math/natural sciences.

Senators are allotted on a proportional system, according to the Faculty Senate constitution, with one senator for every 12 faculty members within the nine represented areas of University Libraries, each section of LAS, and the five other colleges.

According to the constitution, each of the nine areas determines the distribution of its representation on the basis of subdivisions or departments. Four senate positions are at-large from the general faculty.

The senate needs to look at ways to get senators to attend meetings and to continue in the senate, said Moore-Jansen at the senate's April 23 meeting, Moore-Jansen shared with the senate two informal alternatives suggested by the senate's executive committee.

One of the suggestions was that if a particular section within a college is unable to get a nomination for representation in the senate by the election deadline that the open spot be designated an at-large position within the college.

Another suggestion was that colleges elect a concurrent alternate who could fill in when an elected senator is unable to attend or otherwise cannot fulfill senate obligations.

A proposal from the executive committee suggests a revision to the constitution to redefine faculty eligible for election. This proposal would redefine the teaching/research faculty eligible for election as half-time positions with a faculty status of tenured, temporary, probationary or instructor. Those individuals would have to spend at least 50 percent of their time teaching, researching and/or library service.

The revision had its first reading at the April 23 meeting. A motion to return the proposal to the executive committee for further discussion was passed.

A general faculty meeting will be held at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 8, following the university awards ceremony, in the Rhatigan Student Center ballroom.

As part of the agenda, President Don Beggs will give a state of the university address, and Gary L. Miller, vice president for academic affairs and research, will give a state of academic affairs address.

The proposed policy on chronic low performance, a required policy by the Board of Regents that has been in the works for a number of years in Faculty Senate, is also on the meeting agenda.

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