Faculty senate tables vote that could close meetings

Butler University faculty senate members will decide at their next meeting how much  access top-level administrators will have to their meetings.

The proposal to amend the current practice comes from a new face on campus this  year—university President Jim Danko—Margaret Brabant, chair of faculty senate, said at Tuesday’s meeting.

Who qualifies as a top-level administrator has yet to be decided, but the designation could include the president, vice presidents, deans and associate deans.

When Bobby Fong was president of Butler, he encouraged senior-level administrators to attend the faculty senate meetings. During his tenure, their attendance became a practice, Brabant said at the meeting.

Philosophy professor Stuart Glennan said at the meeting that the administration should be responsive to the needs of the senate, but the senate shouldn’t order top-level administrators to attend the meetings.

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

Glennan also said that it is important for the president to be available to speak to the faculty when they need to, but that shouldn’t require them to show up to every faculty senate meeting.

He said there should be a mutual understanding between the president and the senators.

While Fong was here, he said he wanted to improve the notion of shared governance, and Glennan said Danko may do things differently but still reach shared governance in the end.

Senate members also discussed having executive sessions, or closed-door meetings, when they need to address sensitive or controversial topics.

Faculty senate meetings are, at this point, open to the Butler community, and the faculty senate constitution does not state whether the meetings have to be public.

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

Mary Andritz, dean of the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, said at the meeting she didn’t think deans would mind being included in the definition of top-level administrators.

These issues will be discussed and voted on at the next Faculty Senate meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 4.