In an effort to encourage more faculty members to campaign for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Senate, the group will host an open house on Feb. 13.
The get-together — open to all faculty members eligible to vote in an FAS Senate election, including ladder, ladder-track and instructional faculty — will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. on the second floor of Luce Hall, according to senator Charles Schmuttenmaer. There, faculty will be able to talk about the senate and its structure with their elected representatives and hear short speeches from FAS Chair John Geanakoplos among others. For Schmuttenmaer, who also chairs the Outreach, Nominations and Committee on Committees, this event will help bring senators face-to-face with their constituents.
“The reason we are having this is to raise awareness of the FASS,” Schmuttenmaer wrote in an email to the News. “I believe that most faculty have heard about the FAS Senate, but do not really know the details.”
The gathering is the latest senate effort to make itself more well-known among the FAS faculty. Schmuttenmaer said he and his colleagues have made presentations and circulated information about the senate in hopes of encouraging more faculty either to run for one of the senate’s 22 seats or to vote for potential candidates. According to the FAS Senate bylaws, elections happen every April, and senators serve two-year terms.
The senate’s current cohort took office in 2019. Since the next round of elections is slated for this April, this outreach effort could convince faculty members to nominate others or accept a nomination themselves. The bylaws also state that potential nominees must receive signatures from nine eligible voters to appear on the ballot and that no person can nominate more than five people.
Sociology professor Emily Erikson, who also serves on Schmuttenmaer’s committee, said she is optimistic that the event will maintain open communication between the Senate and its constituents.
“For this occasion … I hope that we are able to encourage faculty to run for the senate. It is a terrific experience, and each voice adds so much,” she wrote in an email to the News.
Schmuttenmaer dedicates much of his time to senate outreach, and his committee also handles the nominations process. Schmuttenmaer, also a chemistry professor, mentioned this event in several of the senate’s recent meetings. Senator Jennifer Klein brought up the idea in November’s meeting minutes, stressing that all senators should be present at the get-together, and Schmuttenmaer agreed. By December, the committee had a sketch of what the event would look like. During that meeting, Schmuttenmaer suggested possible dates for the upcoming event and solicited input from other senators, according to its minutes.
The agenda of the January meeting also mentioned the open house. While the minutes will not be released to the public until later this month, the outline shows that Senators discussed the event — among other topics — toward the end of their two-hour gathering in Connecticut Hall.
Schmuttenmaer told the News that he will make a handout with information about the senate in an “easy to digest” manner. But, since this is a new event, his team is still ironing out its format.
According to a draft of an invitation to faculty, the reception will feature all five chairs of the senate — from history professor Beverly Gage, who served as the senate’s inaugural head, to Geanakoplos — and each will speak briefly about the Senate, why they joined and what their goals are for the future.
“The purpose is to let them know what we do,” Geanakoplos wrote, “and how faculty can run for office.”
And, the invitation said, “dancing is optional.”
Matt Kristoffersen | firstname.lastname@example.org