Meet Andrea Wheeler, Faculty Senate president

Andrea Wheeler

Faculty Senate president Andrea Wheeler. Photo by Christopher Gannon.

What are the priorities for your presidency?

Position: Associate professor of architecture
Years at ISU: Eight
Contact: 294-3796,

My role is to facilitate faculty participation in the shared governance of the university. Our environment is challenging at this time and impacted by a global pandemic. These current circumstances present many different challenges for faculty at work and home. Our faculty have expressed anxiety about the continued risk posed by the coronavirus and the delta variant. Over the summer, Faculty Senate executive board has expressed its support through emails, a faculty petition and to the growing concern for the need for increased mitigation strategies on campus. It is our expectation that mitigation strategies on campus are informed by scientifically based health information and established policies and procedures. 

Why did you choose to lead during this time?

I choose to lead during this time to support faculty in the free exchange of ideas, the development of policies and participation in decision making that affects the institution. Several important items will come forward this year, including updating the required U.S. diversity requirement. This project has progressed for many years in senate committees and councils, and has met some obstacles. As an item on our agenda, it has provoked debate and rightly elicited strong feelings. We are now in a position to begin to implement recommendations and support faculty in updating their classes. House File 802 has also caused anxiety for faculty over the summer. I am confident faculty and instructors at Iowa State are highly knowledgeable in their fields and skilled in making decisions concerning course content. I am equally confident our faculty are outstanding teachers able to facilitate open discussions on complex topics.

How do you view having the senate meetings back in person?

I am very happy to be returning to an in-person meeting and to see my colleagues in the Memorial Union. While returning to in-person meetings will benefit the meeting discussion, I recognize there are senators unable to meet in person, and I have been working on the possibility of a hybrid option for senate meetings. Sadly, for the first meeting in September, this is not possible. We need to ensure that the senate meetings provide all senators with an environment for free and equal participation. I will continue to work on the possibility of meeting flexibility, and we will include a review of our parliamentary procedures.

What is one thing you wish the faculty understood better?

Faculty Senate is for all faculty. I wish that those who may feel that senate is not for them would reach out, lean in and participate. We need all faculty opinions to be heard, and it is my responsibility as president to ensure that there is a suitable environment in our meetings for this to happen.

Who is someone you admire and why?

I was a first-generation college student, and it took some time to recognize how important mentors are to me. I have made efforts during my time at Iowa State to seek out mentors across campus. We have some amazing professors in our community -- skillful, experienced scholars and academics -- and those with many years of knowledge of the university. These people are community-builders on our campus who are rarely recognized for this work.