Faculty senate needs an overhaul from tired practice

Top-level administrators at Butler University have enough to worry about in a given day. One fewer worry would be whether or not to attend faculty senate meetings that occur twice a month if the senate votes Oct. 4 to limit their access.

These meetings should be reserved for faculty members who feel the direct impact of the administration’s decisions.

It is my hope that the faculty senate members vote to include deans and associate deans as top administration since their involvement on the senate is a conflict of interest.

Top administrators, which could include the president, vice presidents, deans and associate deans, would benefit from a clear policy about meeting attendance.

You might wonder why they wouldn’t attend, since they are such integral components of the university. That is the exact reason they shouldn’t always have the option to attend faculty senate meetings.

Top-level administrators are burdened with various issues in the university on any given day, from budget talks to inaugural luncheons. If the faculty senate policy were clearer, top-level administrators could direct their attention to more time-sensitive issues on campus.

There is  no denying that issues involving top administration at Butler are imperative, but the university should allow the faculty to discuss the solutions amongst themselves before contacting top-level administrators.

Another factor is that every faculty member at this university is busy on a daily basis. It is pointless to mandate that all employees show up to a meeting that doesn’t require full faculty presence.

Philosophy professor Stuart Glennan fails to see why top-level administrators should be at faculty senate meetings.

“The decision was made by Fong [when he was here], but it is ultimately up to the administration as long as they are responsive,” he said.

Butler has a new president, so the university should take advantage of this opportunity to implement changes for the betterment of the university.

Change is  not a bad thing;  however,  it does seem to be something that Butler tends to fear. Altering the protocol for faculty senate meetings will not cause campus to implode. There is no reason not to try a new method because the change could possibly make the faculty senate meetings more productive than they ever have been.

Additionally, there will not be a loss of the shared governance that Fong was committed to preserving. Top-level administrators should not be prevented from attending  all meetings. Therefore, they will still remain in tune with campus and the needs and concerns of faculty members.

The worst effect from this change would be increased closed-door meetings. These meetings would not serve any real purpose on campus because they would transform faculty senate into somewhat of a secret society on campus. Increased usage of closed-door meetings would not be beneficial for administrators, professors or the campus alike.

“There are reasonable and important times [for a closed-door practice],” said Glennan. “It just depends when and how often [these meetings] happen.”

Faculty senate will be at its most highly functioning point when all members involved are there out of earnest concern instead of outdated practices.

Hopefully the upcoming vote on Oct. 4 will be one that changes and improves the effectiveness of faculty senate on campus.


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