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Faculty Senate & Governance

Chair’s message

Zoe Barsness, Senate Chair

Zoe Barsness, Chair
Faculty Senate

I begin by thanking you for the opportunity to serve. I arrived at UW Tacoma 16 years ago, enticed by the opportunity to develop a different approach to business education and excited by the institution building challenge offered. It has been a rich and rewarding journey since. My goal as Chair of the Faculty is to work in collaboration with others to contribute back. Just as my own scholarship has been motivated by a pragmatic desire to figure out how we, as members of organizations, can work together to “make things better”, so too must be our efforts on behalf of shared governance.

As faculty, we play a critical institutional role. Not only are our discovery and teaching efforts core to the institution’s mission, but we serve in partnership with the regents and administration as stewards of the institution and its core values. Our expertise; our passion for ideas, knowledge creation and learning; our willingness to exercise our voice and engage in dialogue with other key stakeholders; our commitment to excellence and willingness to invest our energies and efforts on behalf of the organization provide invaluable service as we work collectively to meet the diverse challenges facing us today. Together we can assure that the biggest challenges for the faculty are identified and the best solutions are found. The call for shared governance could not be greater and to my observation the receptiveness to partnership has never been stronger.

In observing closely the work of the chairs that have preceded me including Jack Lee, Kate O’Neill, and Norm Beauchamp, in discussions with the chairs of the faculty councils, in conversations with many of you, and in considering challenges faculty at our peer institutions are facing, a number of priorities have been identified for the coming year.

  1. The Faculty Salary Policy: Our first priority is to sustain our momentum and continue our efforts to implement a salary policy that minimizes compression, compensates faculty commensurate with peer institutions, and accommodates the flexibility deemed necessary by faculty in different schools, colleges and campuses. While, the particular salary policy proposal that was brought forward last spring for a vote did not prevail, it’s critical to understand that the multi-year effort around the faculty salary policy which culminated in that vote was not wasted. There was a robust, transparent, and widely engaged process. As a consequence of that process we have developed a much clearer understanding of the concerns any changes to the faculty salary policy need to address. Our focus this coming year will be to leverage the insights we’ve gained and momentum we’ve achieved to address these concerns more incrementally, working to strengthen the tools we have available to us in the existing faculty salary policy and identify areas where the current policy might be tweaked to extend and redirect its focus more appropriately.
  1. The Role of the Lecturer: Teaching is a core part of our mission. Lecturers play an absolutely central role in this mission. Establishing a track for advancement, a mechanism for job security, competitiveness of compensation and a voice in decision making have been areas of focused effort for the Senate. Ultimately, the goal must be to create a culture that values the role of lecturers. We will continue our efforts bringing forward resolutions and initiatives needed to more fully support our colleagues.
  1. Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: Creating and sustaining a diverse faculty is the only way we will continue to excel as a faculty. The Faculty Councils on Multicultural Affairs and the Faculty Council on Women in Academia are maintaining their great momentum by considering issues such as equity in compensation, researching and developing an actionable-agenda for overcoming the barriers women and faculty of color face in academic advancement, and sustaining our efforts, in collaboration with the administration, to provide training in best practices for faculty hiring committees and ultimately tenure and promotion committees. In addition to these efforts, we will continue work through our faculty councils, and in partnership with the administration, to enhance sexual assault policies at the UW. We will also seek to align the efforts of our faculty councils with the other great work that is occurring across our three campuses under the auspices of the university’s Diversity Blueprint and Race and Equity Initiative.
  1. Tri-campus Relations: This coming year we will be directing our attention to the relationship between our three campuses. The UW is now a true multi-campus system. The two smaller campuses, which might have been launched as “interesting experiments” in response to a legislative mandate, have become thriving and substantial institutions in their own right, each with its unique character. In order for the UW as a whole to sustain its ability to respond effectively to the changes buffeting higher education today, continued strategic growth is required not only for the UW Seattle, but also the UW Bothell and the UW Tacoma, indeed it is expected and anticipated. A pressing question then is how we build upon the respective strengths and leverage the unique character of the UW’s individual campuses to create something that delivers greater returns to the institution and our stakeholders at every level—both local and global. Several new initiatives focused on addressing these broader institutional needs and the challenges associated with collaboration and coordination across our three campuses will be undertaken.
  1. Shared Governance: Although last year’s effort to adopt a new faculty salary policy was unsuccessful, we saw mobilization of faculty voices that was unprecedented in recent history. A key goal for this year is to build on this energy to ensure that the Senate and Faculty Councils are identifying the issues that are most important to sustain the missions of the faculty. We will also focus on strengthening shared governance at every level of the institution by enhancing coordination with and the support we provide to our School, College and Campus Elected Faculty Councils. Most important, every senator must come to the meetings informed and prepared to represent the concerns of the faculty they represent and committed to bringing back needed solutions.

Importantly, this is not a comprehensive list. Each of our Councils is also reflecting on what they have identified as core issues for the faculty, seeking to identify at least three areas of focus for the upcoming year. We will be listing those initiatives on the Faculty Senate website. I really welcome your input on the initiatives above defined and the goals identified by each of the Councils.

Do not hesitate to contact me at My commitment is to do the very best I can in serving your goals.