UW News

November 29, 2022

Dr. Gautham Reddy, Faculty Senate chair, outlines priorities for term

UW News

Improving faculty dispute resolution policies, promoting ways to improve terms of employment for clinical faculty, reenvisioning the merit and promotion process for faculty on all three University of Washington campuses, and continuing to promote diversity, equity and inclusion practices are top priorities for this year’s UW Faculty Senate Chair Dr. Gautham Reddy, a professor in Department of Radiology in the School of Medicine.

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Dr. Gautham Reddy, a professor in Department of Radiology in the School of Medicine, is the Chair of the UW Faculty Senate.University of Washington

The Faculty Senate is the legislative body made up of 133 elected faculty representatives from across all campuses. The chair, elected to serve a one-year term, sets the agenda for legislation and other priorities. Together, the Faculty Senate and faculty councils along with UW President Ana Mari Cauce and Provost Mark Richards, form the structure for shared governance.

Dr. Reddy is the 75th elected chair of the Faculty Senate, the third person of color to hold that seat in UW history, and only the second person of color to serve in this leadership role in the past 60 years.

“I think of myself as a faculty member first, not just as a person of color,” Dr. Reddy said. “But I feel that DEI considerations do need to become more important and should be a priority.”

Work already is underway to recruit a more diverse group to serve on Faculty Senate committees and university councils, with attention paid to how people identify by race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation and ability. Other key considerations include campus and academic unit affiliation — as well as scholarly discipline, with an aim to include more faculty from the arts and humanities.

“We’re trying to become more diverse and inclusive in shared governance. And I think the Senate leadership team has done a better job over the last several years,” he said.

This year the Senate will consider whether to continue its practice of holding meetings online — begun by necessity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“One of the advantages of online or hybrid meetings is that they are more inclusive of people who aren’t based near Gerberding Hall, where in-person meetings have been held in the past,” Dr. Reddy said. Holding meetings online or offering a virtual option allows greater participation from representatives at UW Bothell, UW Tacoma and medical center locations.

Dr. Reddy also hopes to complete a five-year effort to reform the faculty conduct and grievance policies. The existing policies can seem outdated, overly formal and can lead to university-wide adjudication when issues may be better solved within an academic unit, he said.

Draft legislation to bring about change is in discussion among the Senate, President Cauce, Provost Richards and the Board of Deans and Chancellors. The goal is to make the process less rigid and more locally based, while reserving university-level procedures for specific circumstances, such as intractable situations and egregious allegations, including those related to harassment or discrimination. In addition, a new group of faculty liaisons would be available to support colleagues as they go through the process.

Ultimately the outcome should be that the UW is a place where students and faculty members can raise areas of concern and resolve problems, Dr. Reddy said.

“We want people to bring forward issues that will help improve the climate,” Dr. Reddy said.

Other Faculty Senate priorities include:

  • Changes for clinical faculty. Clinical faculty, most of whom work in the School of Medicine, work alongside other faculty teaching and caring for patients but must renew their employment contracts annually. Clinical faculty do not have voting rights for promotion or Senate legislation and cannot serve in the Senate. The plan is to introduce legislation that would allow for multi-year contracts and voting rights.
  • Expand merit and promotion qualifications to include community-engaged activities as elements of scholarship for promotion and tenure. Work also is underway with the Faculty Council on Faculty Affairs to reenvision the merit process.
  • Revive conversations about how to remove bias from teaching evaluations.
  • Support faculty as course formats include more asynchronous and online teaching.
  • Work with the State Legislature to secure funding for faculty and staff salaries and shore up finances for UW Medicine, which annually provides more than $700 million in uncompensated care.
  • Discuss campus safety concerns with Interim Vice President for Campus Community Safety Sally Clark and UW Police Chief Craig Wilson.
  • Raise the profile of sustainability issues in the university’s practices and policies.