Faculty Senate rules alone

By Lisa Schulz

Finally escaping the committees and bylaws of the dissolved College Council, the Faculty Senate declared its independence last week. Now, the established body of 38 voices faces reaching conclusions.

Concerns regarding methodology of the prioritization process were discussed during the Senate’s Feb. 3 meeting. Also mentioned was a separate re-evaluation of the curriculum, new committees within the Senate and activity outside of the Senate.

“I believe the process is in very good hands, and I trust them and respect them,” said Pegeen Reichert Powell, president of the Faculty Senate and assistant professor in the English Department. “I believe that the place for the Senate will emerge during implementation when some of these recommendations start getting rolled up. We don’t know what’s going to happen. None of us do. I’m trying to walk a really fine line here—being ready and prepared as a body without jumping the gun.”

The letter from the prioritization team stated the significance of the process and the extension of its deadline for several elaborated stages. An unexpected debate arose about the continuation of the process that would involve an evaluation of departments and programs.

The evaluation was said to be finished in January, but the last forum is scheduled for March 2, according to the letter read by Dominic Pacyga of the Academic Affairs Committee and professor in the Humanities, History and Social Sciences Department.

Tension created by the process’ unnecessary time crunch can be felt by prospective students and parents, said Eric May of the Academic Affairs Committee and associate professor in the Fiction Writing Department. Rushing the process is not needed since it wouldn’t take effect until fall 2012, he said.

Among the greatest concerns for the tenured faculty senators was the stress accompanying the prioritization process. Student representatives from Occupy Columbia discussed collaborating with the Senate and other groups and unions on campus to deliver messages to the administration.

“Feeling disenfranchised by the timetable of prioritization and the way the process is being implemented is the exact same feeling among students,” said Ryan Nanni, senior film and video major and Occupy Columbia member. “We want a voice in how our [college] is run as well since it’s directly driven by our tuition.”

Other resolutions announced by the Senate include the addition of the new Excellence in Teaching and Faculty Development committees.

Currently, the Senate operates Executive, Academic Affairs, Faculty Affairs and Financial Affairs committees.

Two senators were chosen for the Strategic Enrollment Team as requested by

Louise Love, interim provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, during the Dec. 5, 2011, Senate meeting as previously reported by The Chronicle. At the Dec. 5 meeting, the standing rules were reviewed by soliciting expert counsel from colleagues outside of the Senate.

Other bylaws had been discarded because of unclear language. In a request to recognize the Senate’s Committee Service, unnecessary words regarding rewards in the Senate were removed.

“Ultimately, we don’t want to have the most wordy document in the world,” said Barbara Iverson of the Financial Affairs Committee and associate professor in the Journalism Department.

For situations in which senators represent outside committees, as with the SET, the Senate presented a motion stating it would determine whose participation

is best.

If requested senators failed to participate, the Senate would solicit volunteers. The motion failed.

The Senate continues to participate with other organizations in the college, including Occupy Columbia.

“As an individual, I’m grateful for your energy and efforts,” said Reichert-Powell in response to Nanni. “Your education is the reason we’re doing any of this.”