Friday, January 25, 2013

“Ready...Set...Go!” Shared Governance at SUNY Fredonia in a Time of Transition

Happy New Year, everyone! Hope you’re enjoying our first real winter in years as much as I am...or even more. With Rob Deemer and Reneta Barneva ably representing us at the SUNY-wide University Faculty Senate plenary in balmy Oneonta, it’s my duty and pleasure to welcome you back on behalf of the Fredonia University Senate to the start of what’s shaping up to be a momentous spring semester.

When Rob asked me to say a few words about the work of the Senate this academic year, the phrase “Ready...Set...Go!” sprang to mind. The way I see it, we spent late spring and summer getting ready, the fall getting set, and now shared governance at Fredonia is rarin’ to go.

Rob, Reneta, Andy Cullison, our Governance Officer, and Saundra Liggins, our Faculty Secretary, and I logged a lot of hours from May through August preparing for the transition from President Hefner’s administration to President Horvath’s. We worked closely with former Senate Chair Christopher Taverna to ensure a smooth transition in Senate leadership, recruited new chairs to Senate standing committees (thanks to Justin Conroy and Guangyu Tan for leading General Education and Jeanette McVicker for leading Graduate Council), planned a late August Senate mixer/orientation, began an informal Senate self-assessment, started thinking and talking about possible revisions to the bylaws and restructuring of Senate committees, and worked closely with President Horvath as we started to assemble several search committees and implementation teams.

Search Committees
  • Provost and VPAA
  • Dean, College of Visual and Performing Arts
  • Chief Diversity Officer
Implementation Teams
  • Strategic Plan (input to Cabinet)
  • Mission Statement Revision (joint)
  • Baccalaureate Goals (joint)
  • General Education Revision (Senate/Gen Ed)
  • Campus Initiatives Roundtable (to facilitate communication and enhance coordination)
During the fall, we continued to work closely with President Horvath and Interim Provost and VP for Academic Affairs Kevin Kearns as we finalized search committees and implementation teams and sought approval from the Cabinet and the Senate. The Mission Statement revision team was designed to be the fastest out of the gates and, thanks to the leadership of Mike Barone and their hard work, they completed their work early, after having presented multiple drafts to the campus and the Senate. The Senate has also been looking closely at Planning and Budget’s Program Elimination/Reduction Report, deliberating on and approving bylaws revisions on the roles, responsibilities, and duties of Senate officers and the Senate Executive Committee and the administrative review process, and discussing course evaluations. Other work has been less visible, but just as important, ranging from governance leaders meeting with each and every Vice Presidential candidate and giving valuable feedback to the search committees to planning, deliberation, and communication efforts of Senate standing committees and the Executive Committee with a variety of individuals and groups.

So as we start the new year, all the activities of the past 8 months have prepared us to take major actions on a variety of important initiatives.

We are ready for Senate votes next month on
  • Mission Statement Revision
  • Electronic Voting (bylaws)
We are almost ready for Senate votes next month on
  • Course Evaluations Joint Task Force (joint)
  • Shared Governance/Consultation Agreements and Processes (bylaws)
  • Senate Committee Structures (bylaws)
  • Academic Integrity Policy (Academic Affairs responding to task force lead by Kevin Kearns and David Herman)
  • Environmental Studies Minor (Academic Affairs)
  • Faculty Office Hours Policy (Academic Affairs)
And we can expect even more this spring!
  • General Education Program assessment (Gen Ed)
  • Contingent Faculty Subcommittee (FPAC)
  • University Handbook (FPAC)
  • Graduate mission, vision, goals (Grad Council)
  • Campus Initiatives Updates
  • Senate and Senate Committee Elections
So even as we keep our eyes on the state and SUNY budget, SUNY’s in-the-works resource allocation methodology, the Chancellor’s notions of systemness and the state of the state university, and new AAUP reports on financial exigency and the inclusion of contingent faculty in governance, we are confident that here at Fredonia, we will have finished fine-tuning our shared governance machine and will be ready to take it out on the road by the time the weather moderates.

I invite you to attend this spring’s Senate meetings in Williams Center 204 at 4 pm on February 4th, March 4th, April 8th, and May 6th. Have a great semester!