Faculty Senate vetoes move to increase group members
Published: Monday, December 5, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, December 6, 2011 05:12
The Faculty Senate will not expand its ranks after its members voted against a measure that would add 10 new representatives during the group's meeting Monday night in Gore Hall.
Physics and astronomy professor John Morgan proposed increasing the number of elected faculty senators from 50 to 60 for the 2012 and 2013 academic year. He said the move was necessary to ensure that each college adequately represented departments included within their branch.
"The likely effect is that the College of Arts & Sciences would add about five senators, and each of the other colleges, which are smaller, would add one extra senator," said Morgan, a faculty member of the college.
He said the number of faculty senators has not changed since 1970, when the committee first began, which is why he believed it was time to increase the number of representatives.
However, the measure required 37 votes for approval and 35 representatives voted in favor of the proposal. The number of faculty members at the university increased from 550 in 1970 to 1,100 in 2011, Morgan said. During the course of more than four decades, the number of departments has expanded from 40 to 50.
Currently, the College of Arts & Sciences, the largest college at the university, has been allocated 24 seats, which is equal to the number of academic departments it includes.
Morgan said the next reapportionment, which will take place in January 2013, may present a problem, if the number of faculty seats allocated to the College of Arts & Sciences decreases by one representative.
This would cause faculty members to make major changes in how they elect their senators, he said.
"We would end up with a system in which we would be voting for people, most of whom, we just don't know," Morgan said.
He said he personally would not feel comfortable representing faculty who are were outside of his discipline such as art and communication.
This proposal may also help give faculty senators an opportunity to communicate what is discussed at senate meetings back to the departments they represent.
Opponents of expanding the number of representatives were concerned with how the extra 10 members would represent smaller colleges such as Health Sciences or Agriculture & Natural Resources, which could have less influence in a larger pool of members.
"It seems like this is being done to make sure that there's a senator from every department in Arts & Sciences, whereas other colleges have functioned quite well without a representative from every department," said food and resource economics professor Steve Hastings. "Maybe Arts & Sciences needs to change their view of the world as opposed to the senate conforming to what would be very convenient for the [college]."
Human Development and Family Studies professor Martha Buell said an expansion should consider the ratio of elected representatives in comparison to the size of the Colleges of Arts & Sciences.
"It seems like there should be some caution considered in changing the proportions of this government body—given the context of Arts & Sciences especially," Buell said.