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Faculty Senate Meeting Overview May 2012

by Janene Zaccone, communications and marketing, last modified May 07, 2012 10:36 AM

The Faculty Senate is part of UofL’s shared governance system, which also includes the Staff Senate and the Student Government Association. Senators are elected by their peers.

The full body met in special election and in regular sessions May 2 in Chao Auditorium at Ekstrom Library. Chair Bob Staat presided. This is what happened:

Election Session

Joe Steffen, associate professor of biology, was elected Faculty Senate chair for 2012-13. Pam Feldhoff, associate professor of biochemistry, was elected vice chair and chair of the senate’s Executive Committee for 2012-13. They will assume their posts at the September meeting.

Regular Session

Action Items

  • The senate approved creation of a Certificate in Prosthodontics program in the School of Dentistry. The program would be the only one in Kentucky. Prosthodontics is a higher level of specialty training for dentists. Of the 18 in Kentucky, only nine are seeing patients. When at full capacity, six students would be enrolled in it. The proposal and other documents are here.
  • The senate had the first reading of the University Libraries personnel documents revisions. The body will vote on the revisions in June.
  • Sen. Elaine Wise, humanities and Faculty Athletic Representative, explained proposed changes to the student excused absence policy. The changes are intended to make clearer faculty responsibility to students when they have missed class because he or she was representing the university. The senate will vote on the policy changes in June.

Reports to the Senate

Shirley Willihnganz, provost. The provost reported that she wants to establish a group to look at ways to deal with the challenges higher education faces. She likened the changing landscape, which includes increasingly less state funding, to the days when automobiles replaced the horse and buggy. The change didn’t take place at once, she said, but when it did, there was no going back. She explained that she wants to make sure UofL is able to succeed in the new reality of higher education.

James Ramsey, president. Ramsey told the senate that he wanted to depart from his usual spring semester’s end report format, which recaps happenings in the General Assembly and with the Council on Postsecondary Education that affect UofL and on the budget. Instead, he brought up several issues that A&S faculty brought to him at an open meeting recently and asked the senate to weigh in on them.

They included working together to improve communication from administration to faculty and faculty to administration and a more transparent budget process.

Senators urged Ramsey and Willihnganz to make a concerted effort to visit units to let faculty know they care for their welfare, and to have open forums where they listen rather than present.

The senators also said that they consider the budgeting process to be transparent because Vice President for Finance Mike Curtin regularly meets with the senates (Faculty, Staff and student) and other constituent groups to share the current budgeting status and because Curtin and Ramsey have forums for students, faculty and staff. They acknowledged, however, that because they are senators, they are more aware of how the process works and where to look for information than many faculty members are.

The Senate will meet again Wednesday, June 6 at the Health Sciences Center.

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