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Faculty Senate wants commitment to shared decision-making process

By John Ashby

Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 16 - December 14, 1995

The Faculty Senate voted last week to endorse a resolution calling for the university administration to support shared decision-making, and to include "meaningful faculty involvement in all decisions that affect the faculty, students, programs and curriculum" at the university. The resolution came as a result of discussion of the recently announced decision to merge the College of Education with another college.

There was one vote against the resolution. The full text states: "The Faculty Senate believes that the faculty has a right and responsibility to be involved in all decisions affecting students, programs, curriculum or the faculty. We regret that the faculty was not involved in the decision to close the College of Education, and that faculty involvement appears perfunctory in the proposed decision process to determine the disposition of students, programs, curricula, and faculty of the College of Education. We call upon the president and provost to express commitment to the principle of shared decision-making, and to make every effort to include meaningful faculty involvement in all decisions that involve students, programs, curricula and the faculty."

Expressing his opposition to the resolution, James Armstrong said he believed that no committee of faculty members would vote to close a college, and "You hire a president and provost to make tough decisions." Armstrong said it was the dean-search process in the College of Education which "forced the president's hand."

Mike Moore said he and many of his colleagues in the College of Education had spent the last 18 months working on the college's restructuring plan. Describing the decision-making and notification process, Moore said, "There was never any indication of it at all, until the day the Dean's Search Committee was supposed to start. It was handled very capriciously. There was no faculty input. I think everybody here should be looking over their shoulder. It was us this time, but it may be somebody else next time."

Moore said the proposed resolution probably should be stated in stronger terms to reflect the sentiments of the College of Education's Executive committee, which met Tuesday morning. (Please see accompanying article on page 1.)

Charles Goodsell, in expressing his support for the resolution, said the College of Education issue was "clearly the most serious thing that has happened so far this year. I think if we, as a senate, didn't address this issue in the first meeting after it happened, we would be shirking our duty."

In discussing the decision to merge Education with another college, senate President Tom Sherman expressed his concern for the process in which the decision was made. "The larger issue [in regard to the disposition of the college] is the marginalization of the faculty and the exclusion of the faculty. That has important implications across the entire university. It is an issue that is of concern to all of us." Sherman said the Governance System "seems to have been by-passed, and not just this time. There seems to be a tradition of bypassing the governance structure." Sherman acknowledged that the Governance System at times seems clumsy and time-consuming, but, he said, the Faculty Senate has set "new records this year for considering policy issues in an expedited way. The leaders of the university have little, if any, confidence in the Governance System-they tend to look outside the system. But many faculty members also have little confidence in the system.

Sherman said the committee to determine the fate of the college will meet several times between now (November 28) and January 15.

In other business, the senate voted unanimously to recommend a Reduction in Force (RIF) policy to the University Council.