UW News

April 17, 2003

Faculty Senate

Spring is a time of great activity for the Faculty Senate Executive Committee and the Faculty Senate. Spring brings to fruition much of the legislative activity that has gone on all year. Spring also brings the state budget and its implications for the University.

Legislation is developed in the various committees of the faculty and University and work to develop that legislation goes on all year. Final proposals often emerge in early spring and are presented to the Faculty Senate Executive Committee for consideration, amendment and approval. Legislation then is presented to the full Faculty Senate for further amendment and approval.

Much of the legislation makes small changes to the Faculty Code. Sometimes these have far-reaching significance for large numbers of faculty members. For example, two years ago the faculty senate passed legislation extending voting rights to research faculty; again last year voting rights were extended to lecturers. Other legislation changes seemingly small portions of the faculty code, but these are potentially extremely important for particular members of the faculty. An example is current legislation under consideration to change rules governing the granting of emeritus status to those who retire early.

In addition to the changes to the rules governing emeritus status, this spring the Senate Executive Committee and Faculty Senate are considering procedures to allow use of electronic means for conducting faculty business, including votes of the faculty, and changes in the structure of academic honors and awards.

Representation of the full University community in considering these issues is critical. Each of these code changes affects many members of the community, but members on different campuses, in different colleges and in particular departments have very different situations and realities. Often, seemingly insignificant changes in wording of the Faculty Code have considerable implications for individual groups that were unappreciated by those in the Committee preparing the legislation or during consideration of the legislation by the Senate Executive Committee. These only become apparent upon presentation of the legislation to the full Faculty Senate where amendments mitigate these unintended effects before final consideration.

Another springtime activity is the monitoring of progress of the University appropriation in the state budget through the Washington State Legislature and its implications for the University. This is more critical than ever because of the statewide budget difficulties of the last two years. Of particular importance this year have been efforts to maintain an ongoing dialogue throughout the year between the faculty, largely via the Senate Committee on Planning and Budgeting and the University administration.

All of this activity results from the sum of the large number of people who participate in faculty governance. They contribute an impressive amount of time, energy and care to the work. It has been a privilege to share this enterprise and serve on the Faculty Senate Executive Committee this year as Group VII representative.

Editor’s Note: This is one of a continuing series of columns about the work of the Faculty Senate councils and committees. Todd Scheuer is a representative to the senate’s Executive Committee.