Faculty Senate discusses input in statement review process

By Ariana Portalatin, Campus Editor

Wesley Herold
During a Faculty Senate session April 14, members discussed updates to the college’s workload policy and approved a motion calling for additional transparency and communication in the statement review process.

During its April 14 session, Columbia’s Faculty Senate presented the current draft of the Academic Year Workload Policy document, edited to remove gender-specific and hyperbolic language, replace passive voice with active voice, and improve clarity and consistency.

As reported April 3 by The Chronicle, Senate members approved an Academic Year Workload Policy, including feedback from faculty members to be sent to the Statement Review Committee for further updates to the policy’s language during a special session held March 31.

Columbia’s board of trustees was scheduled to vote on the document during the April 14 meeting. As of press time, the board’s decision has not been announced.

Greg Foster-Rice, Faculty Senate president and associate professor in the Photography Department who is also a member of the Statement Review Committee, said the meetings that provided feedback on the document helped update the policy’s language.

“These groups, forums and meetings—I would argue— greatly informed the process for [those] sitting on the committee and contributed to a stronger document,” Foster-Rice said.

Despite these changes, other Senate members were still worried about transparency and communication throughout the statement review process.

Associate Professor in the Science and Mathematics Department Keith Kostecka said he was concerned about Senate members not having the opportunity to have significant involvement in the process of reviewing the document.

“I do feel that the process where we have no input into this is not proper, is not correct,” Kostecka said. “I realize [the board of trustees] has to approve this and how important it is for the teaching faculty for that to be voted on and approved. I find it difficult to see the board of trustees get to deal with academic-related issues where we do not have the same opportunity.”

Ava Chatterjee, associate professor in the Education Department, confirmed that other faculty members echoed Kostecka’s concerns, adding that assurance was needed so that faculty input would be meaningful in the process.

After this discussion, a motion was presented and approved calling for future Senate representatives in Statement Review Committees to make themselves available at public forums in order to hear feedback from other Senate members and increase communication during the overall process when the policy is updated

While Kostecka said the motion did not go far enough, Senate member and Associate Professor in the English Department Sarah Odishoo said she was happy with the motion. She said other faculty members also contacted her wanting greater input throughout the process.

“It’s a wonderful motion, and the stuff that goes on in Faculty Senate has to be communicated to the rest of the faculty,” Odishoo said. “They don’t have to be included, but they do have to be heard.”

See Page 3 for Faculty Senate’s discussion of Columbia’s employee insurance changes.