From the Faculty Senate President
—Robert M. Aiken
Robert M. Aiken,
Faculty Senate President
Lewis Gordon asked me to write about my hopes, goals, and objectives for this Academic Year. I am pleased to do so and appreciate this opportunity to discuss them.
My over-arching goal is to strengthen the role of the faculty through the Faculty Senate and its committees in the decision-making processes regarding academic issues. Thanks to the work that Jane Evans and the FSSC did last year, we have already achieved a number of goals and objectives. These have been reported in The Faculty Herald and at Faculty Senate meetings so I won’t repeat them here. Our voice is not only listened to by this administration but is actively sought in matters important to all of us. The collaboration sought by President Hart and Provost Lisa Staiano-Coico has energized all of us and led to a spirit and level of cooperation between the administration and faculty that I have not experienced in all my years at Temple. It is important that we continue to build on this foundation and look at new ways in which we can work together as equal partners.
What are some of the challenges that I see for this year? First, the Provost has been charged with preparing an Academic Plan by next Summer—an ambitious timeline to say the least! But it can and will be done. She has asked the Faculty Senate to nominate (at least) 35 of our colleagues to help populate the committees that will work on preparing different pieces of the plans. There will be additional faculty added as it becomes clear exactly what committees need to be established and how many members are required. As one indication of the role of the faculty, I am pleased to report that there will be 10 faculty members on the steering committee. I cannot emphasize enough the support of the President and Provost for this plan to be faculty driven—a bottoms up and not a top down effort. Monthly updates on the progress of this project will be given at our Senate meetings.
Another issue is the eligibility of members of the Faculty Senate. Should we retain our current requirement that one must be a tenured or tenure-track (TT) colleague or is it better to expand the opportunity for other members of our community such as non-tenured-track (NTT) colleagues? As you know, a motion was discussed in the Senate and voted on last year. It received strong support (60%) but not the required 2/3 of those voting to pass. A number of you have told us that you would like to re-visit this issue and hopefully get broader participation in both the discussion and voting. The steering committee (FSSC) is currently discussing how best to bring this topic to you in a clear and logical context.
Our Gen Ed program continues to grow and consume more of our time and effort. As you know from The Faculty Herald and other sources, Terry Halbert now has several colleagues working with her. However, there is a LOT to do and time is short. While they are filling approximately 2,500 seats with Gen Ed courses this fall, they expect to fill 10,000 when the program goes into full swing next Fall and double that by the Fall 2009! Big numbers, indeed … and a critical piece of the education of all our students, so we need to get it right. With Terry, David Watt, and a number of other colleagues working on this we will be proud of the results, but it will require a tremendous amount of time and effort on the parts of a number of you. The Senate will be a forum to help all of us better understand and discuss issues as well as a sounding board for new ideas.
Our Senate committees continue to perform yeoman service and are vital to making the faculty an important and visible part of the University. The Committee on Administrative and Trustee Appointments (CATA) has been consulted on several Dean searches as well as having played an active role in providing names for the Provost and Senior Vice-President for Research and Strategic Initiatives search committees. Our newly established Community Based Learning and Collaboration committee is active in sponsoring brown bag seminars and exploring ways we can share experiences and bring different units to work together. In addition, they, as well as the FSSC, are investigating ways to better publicize all the good work that Temple faculty give in community service. You will be hearing more about this at future Senate meetings as well as in The Faculty Herald.
I will end by making a plea! Please attend as many of our faculty senate meetings as you can. We need your voice and participation. We also need your help in working on a number of our committees. The Provost has offered to come to the meetings to share her thoughts and participate in Q & A sessions. We will be presenting the highlights of the Academic Planning process and other important activities. The Faculty Senate is YOUR voice and we need ALL of you to participate and assist us with the work that needs to be done. This is an exciting time at Temple. I look forward to sharing in it with you.