It’s election season for UT’s Faculty Senate, the faculty’s voice in the shared governance of the campus, and caucus chairs are looking for faculty members willing to serve.
The Faculty Senate meets once a month during the academic year. The group receives updates from the chancellor, the provost, and other key people. For instance, last semester Bill Fox spoke about the state economy and how it affects the higher education budget. Matthew Theriot also spoke about the university’s experiential learning initiative. The group discusses issues and votes on proposals that come out of the senate’s various committees, most of which meet once a month.
The senate oversees the university’s curriculum through the Graduate and Undergraduate Councils. Joan MacLeod Heminway, W. P. Toms Distinguished Professor of Law, describes the senate’s role as “watchdogs for the enforcement and proper use of campus rules and administrative authority, especially in relation to curricular matters.”
Faculty Senate has input into the budget and planning processes, makes recommendations about faculty benefits and professional development, adopts and revises rules for faculty appointment and promotion, and reviews information technology policies and library resources.
Faculty Senate oversees the academic aspect of intercollegiate athletics through the Athletics Committee. The Appeals Committee handles complaints about due process in tenure or promotion decisions, performance reviews, and provisions in the Faculty Handbook. The Research Council advises the vice chancellor for research and engagement and recommends research policies. The Teaching and Learning Council supports strong teaching at the university and works with the Tennessee Teaching and Learning Center.
People decide to become senators for a variety of reasons. Ramki Kalyanaraman, College of Engineering professor, joined “to learn more about how important decisions are taken at the university, especially by administrators.”
Allie Brown, clinical assistant professor in the College of Nursing, wanted “to be of service to my college” as an “important way to give back to UT, where I have been employed for twenty-two years.”
Both said they’ve learned a lot as a senator, and Brown said, “Increasing my knowledge about UT beyond my own college has helped me better understand the complex issues we are facing in higher education today. With this knowledge I can translate the mission of the university to my peers, students, and the community.”
Sadie Hutson, also in the College of Nursing, said, “I have become a more effective advocate and scholar as a result of serving on the Faculty Senate.… I have been struck by the investment each of the senators has in voicing their perspectives in a manner that demonstrates equity, cooperation, and genuine interest in the welfare of the faculty.”
Hutson said participating in Faculty Senate has been “one of the most valuable and powerful opportunities to network with administrators and faculty in the university community.”
Heminway, who has served as senator, committee chair, and president of the senate, says that, ultimately, “the most rewarding part of my service was the people I met from other campus units and the lasting friendships that I developed from those relationships. I wouldn’t trade that aspect of the experience for anything.”
If you’re interested in serving as a faculty senator, contact your caucus chair by Friday, March 6.