Executive board keeps faculty voice present during summer

The Faculty Senate will not convene until September, but that doesn't mean the groundwork for another successful academic year isn't already being laid.

President Sarah Bennett-George, who took the gavel during the May meeting as just the second term faculty president, already has convened with the senate's executive board to discuss important topics the senate may address this fall.

"It was a chance to get to know each other because we have a lot of new members on the executive board, which is great," said Bennett-George, associate teaching professor of apparel, events and hospitality management. "We discussed priorities and what we wanted the senate to do for the faculty."

Bennett-George said she will use the summer to prepare for a productive senate session, which includes the introduction of new courses and degrees despite the catalog freeze.

"People are using the catalog freeze as an opportunity to review their curriculum, and I hope next year they are ready to propose things and continue to help our faculty and students," she said.

Because most faculty have nine-month contracts, the executive board typically doesn't meet over the summer, but that was not the case during the pandemic summers. Executive board members showed their commitment by meeting and working with administration to make decisions to allow campus to function. Bennett-George began on executive board during the height of developing pandemic precautions, a process that showed the importance of Faculty Senate and shared governance.

"I was struck by how much the administration was wanting feedback from faculty about getting through the pandemic and helping faculty and students be successful," she said.

The executive board will meet with President Wendy Wintersteen and senior vice president and provost Jonathan Wickert before the start of the fall semester. It is a traditional meeting that helps set the tone for the academic year and reestablishes open communication between the Faculty Senate and university leaders.

The board

The executive board is made up of the senate officers and college caucus chairs. It is the last stop between the senate councils and the general senate.

"The board reviews the proposals and docket items coming in and then sets the agenda for the regular Faculty Senate meetings," Bennett-George said. "It also entails communication between the board and the provost about various projects to get the faculty view."

Board members also talk with presenters prior to senate meetings to understand the information and help anticipate questions from senators.