This is an archived article.

April 8, 2010

Faculty Senate approves restructuring plan

Faculty members have approved a plan to restructure the Faculty Senate, reducing it from 267 to 114 members. The legislation passed with about 85 percent in favor and a great voter turnout, said Faculty Senate Chair Bruce Balick. President Mark Emmert approved and signed the legislation on April 2.

Under the new plan, each elected senator will represent 40 faculty rather than 15, as is currently the case. The one-to-15 ratio was established in 1956, when there were about 1,000 faculty members at the UW. There are now more than 4,000 voting faculty.

Senate representation will be by college, campus or school, and college councils will make nominations in order to assure the most effective unit representation. Faculty Senate officials expect that college council representatives will talk to people and find nominees who are more interested in serving in the senate. The new structure goes into effect for Faculty Senate elections this spring. (See Secretary of the Faculty Marcia Killien’s column this week on faculty participation here.)

The legislation also reduces the size of the Senate Executive Committee from the current 31 voting members to 17. The current 11 group representatives are replaced by eight members elected from among senators. There will be three members elected from the chairs of faculty councils (all 14 council chairs currently serve). The University president, the senate chair and vice chair and the chair of the Senate Committee on Planning and Budgeting will continue to serve. The chairs of faculty organizations at UWB and UWT will continue to serve as ex officio members with votes.

Rich Christie, who chaired the Faculty Council on Faculty Affairs, which crafted the legislation, said he was happy it had passed. He credited a number of people who had contributed to the effort, including Gerry Philipsen, who first proposed the idea when he was serving as secretary of the faculty, the current secretary of the faculty, Marcia Killien, who came up with the first key compromise that resolved the issue of senate size and Jan Sjavik, who presided over the first half of the council’s consideration of the change.

In fact, Christie said the members of the council made sure there were no surprises on the senate floor by bringing up every possible objection to the legislation before it got that far.

“I think the restructuring will make for a more effective senate — better governance at a lower cost in faculty time,” Christie said. “It’s a reform that’s long overdue.”

The first meeting of the downsized senate will be in the fall.