The Faculty of Arts and Sciences has elected 22 faculty members to serve on the University’s inaugural FAS Senate, which is scheduled to convene at the start of the coming academic year.
The new governing body, officially established by the FAS in December 2013, held elections in early May before selecting six of the 22 senators to serve on its executive board on June 19. The election had a participation rate of 59.5 percent, with 489 faculty members casting a vote — a turnout “several times higher” than even the best-attended of the current faculty meetings in the FAS, according to political science professor Steven Wilkinson, who chaired the FAS Senate Nomination Committee. Though the structure and membership of the senate has now been determined, professors interviewed said details regarding the substance of its work will be outlined in the coming months.
“I’m delighted that such a diverse talented group of faculty colleagues agreed to stand for election and that so many of us voted,” Wilkinson wrote in an email. “It’s taken a long time and the effort of many people to get this new body up and running, and I look forward to seeing the FAS Senate start its work in the fall.”
According to the December 2014 FAS Senate Implementation Report, the senate’s membership must comprise six senators each from the humanities and sciences, four senators from the social sciences, and six “at-large” senators, who would represent the FAS as a whole. The body is also required to include representation of both tenured and untenured faculty, a provision that faculty interviewed this spring said they considered crucial.
Prior to the May election, members of the FAS engaged in a month-long nomination process in which FAS professors could recommend up to five other faculty members to stand for office. At the closing of this period on April 17, 249 faculty members had received at least one nomination. The FAS Senate Nomination Committee used this list to present the slate of 44 candidates, selecting candidates who had received several nominations and also considering faculty diversity across many spheres, as per the report’s guidelines.
In addition to representing each of the various divisions, the newly elected senators were evenly split across gender as well.
“No group of 22 people could possibly represent the diverse group of the FAS,” Wilkinson said in April, prior to the election. “But having said that, we have had a lot of interest in having diversity in the slate [of candidates] and hopefully diversity in the resulting FAS Senate as well.”
The election was conducted largely through e-ballot, although faculty also had the option to cast a vote on paper as well. These votes were then all processed, printed and counted over several days with the oversight of an independent election committee, which was composed of three professors and a senior administrative assistant.
Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology professor Mark Mooseker, one of two executive committee members representing the sciences and engineering, said the election process ran smoothly. He said it was too premature, however, to comment on specific details of the senate’s work, as the larger body and the executive committee are “both in nascent states.”
Economics professor William Nordhaus, another executive committee member, echoed this sentiment, saying that at this stage, the new senate is still being organized.
Still, professor of chemistry and senator-elect Charles Schmuttenmaer wrote in an email that his goals for the coming months are to understand the issues that are important to his colleagues and make sure “they are on the table” during the meetings. He said some topics may include discussion about the recruitment, promotion and retention of faculty, diversity within the faculty, and the economic status of faculty.
In addition, Schmuttenmaer said there may also be issues unique to the very creation of an inaugural FAS Senate, in particular, considering the best mechanisms for communication between the FAS and administration.
“My long term hopes are that it will provide a robust two-way dialogue between the faculty and the administration,” Schmuttenmaer said. “Issues that are important to the faculty can be brought to the attention of the administration in a non ad hoc manner. I see this as a way to truly strengthen the relationship between the faculty and the administration.”
The names and departments of the 22 senators are listed below:
Classics and African American Studies
Religious Studies, American Studies and History
Economics and Forestry and Environmental Studies
Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
African American Studies, American Studies and History
Comparative Literature and English
Political Science and African American Studies
BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES, PHYSICAL SCIENCES AND ENGINEERING
Geology and Geophysics
Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology
* These senators will serve for a three-year initial term. In accordance with the guidelines approved by the FAS last December, newly elected members have been randomly assigned to two- or three-year initial terms to allow for staggered elections in the future. Regular terms are two years.
† These senators were selected to serve on the executive committee of the FAS Senate.