From Senate President Karen M. Turner
— Karen Turner, Faculty Senate President and Associate Professor of Journalism in the School of Communications and Theater
Faculty Senate President
By Karen Turner
Faculty Senate President
When I first contacted the Herald editor about writing for this last issue of the 2008 - 2009 academic year, I planned discussing in some detail several senate accomplishments. For example, how we are now videoconferencing our monthly senate meetings to the Ambler and Health Sciences campuses, and using TU capture to audio record those meetings when we convene in Kiva Auditorium. Special thanks go to Senate Coordinator Cheryl Mack and Associate Vice President Sheri Stahler and her staff for making this happen. I also intended to talk about the thoughtful preparation that goes into Faculty Senate Steering Committee (FSSC) and monthly senate meetings, and the generous guests who presented over the year. And finally, I wanted to talk about the activities for next year, especially our efforts to reach out to our students and NTT colleagues, and to make yet another pitch for faculty governance and the need for faculty participation.
But the events of past few weeks have caused me to refocus.
I remain deeply disappointed in the tactics employed by members of the faculty senate to successfully shut down the debate and vote on the motion: Status of Contract Negotiations and Involvement of the Presidency. Debate is always healthy. To thwart the fundamental right to vote on an issue is unconscionable. What happened is that senate members resorted to the never before used (certainly in recent senate history) quorum rule to prevent a faculty vote on an important concern. Using such a strategy to undermine faculty voices is indefensible. There were countless opinions on the appropriateness of the motion. This is even more reason to let the faculty speak through the vote. After two failed attempts to bring the motion to a vote, I believed it would serve no purpose to continue to raise the issue.
The FSSC thoughtfully and deliberately spent several meetings discussing what if anything we could or should do to jumpstart what appeared to those of us not sitting at the negotiation table, to be a stalemate. We thought President Hart was the only person who could get the process toward a fair contract on track. Despite the unsolicited legal memorandum and emails “advising” the FSSC on what we could and should do, there is good news. Thanks to the motion, the discussion at the April senate meeting, and emails from faculty, the administration heard and I think better understands the views and frustrations of a cross-section of the faculty. President Hart clearly explained her role in the negotiations through her 4/16/09 open letter to the Temple University Faculty. Also, many colleagues have rediscovered the value of the faculty senate discussion listserv.
The FSSC showed leadership. Faculty concerns about the negotiations are out in the open. I am proud of all of our accomplishments this year.
Karen M. Turner