Faculty Senate: When the boss is away, the kids will play

University of Arizona President Robert Shelton may have been out of town for an unspecified reason, but that didn’t stop the astute Faculty Senate from their monthly meeting. On the agenda this time around: new school formations, a budget update and uncomfortable relationships. Let’s dive in, shall we?

  • Provost: I have an update; we’re still working… – The administrative report (given by Provost Meredith Hay in Shelton’s absence) was so expeditively accelerated that a tweet would have probably sufficed. Hay stood up just long enough to explain to her faculty leadership colleagues that the UA administration is continuing discussions with the Arizona Board of Regents about how to deal with 2011 (when the federal higher education stimulus money runs out), noting that she and Shelton will be at the ABOR meeting later this week. Said Hay, “It’s gonna be at ASU West—woo hoo.” (followed by laughter)

Oh Hay! You lovable jokester!

The provost closed her remarks by updating the Senate on the budget redesign and how it’s “still going on.”

  • This is why we can’t have nice things the faculty doesn’t trust its leadership – Apparent in the Faculty Poll and via anonymous voices on the interweb, not only does the faculty have a strong distaste for the job Shelton and Hay are doing with the UA Transformation; they simply do not identify, or trust, their leadership (which should make the upcoming Faculty Elections interesting).

Whether it’s paranoid or, in fact, a legitimate concern, the relationship between the faculty leadership (namely Faculty Chair Wanda Howell and Strategic Planning and Budget Advisory Committee Chair Lynn Nadel, who is a man) and the upper UA administration has been raising eyebrows around the faculty, and not in a good way. Many faculty are upset and have said on background that the two parties are way too buddy-buddy, to the point where the faculty’s collective voice is not truly getting through the proper channels to Shelton and Hay. This has been addressed before. Also, there’s a 12 of Pabst to anyone who can navigate through the Faculty Senate’s official website to find the comments, which are supposedly there…somewhere.

Well anyway, that point gets me to this point. The jostling about between Hay and Howell might as well have been—well, I can’t think of a reference, but I can assure you that I thought I was watching two fishing buddies. While fielding a question from a member of the Senate, this happened:

Meredith (we’ll go by first names, since apparently we’re all friends here): “I’ll take this one” (winks at Howell)

Wanda: (Scoff laugh—you know the one)

And then later:

Wanda: “Thank you.”

Meredith: “Mmm, hmmm! (in an upward inflection—you know the one)

Maybe I was looking too far into it, but even the body language was telling. All that was missing was a high five and a beer pong table.

  • UA faculty safe from furloughs…or are they? – Through remarks made from various members at the Faculty Senate meeting, it seems that the rumor mill, however speculative, has had a big business churning recently. The most recent subject? Furloughs. Word on the street is that UA departments may experience another big round of cuts around May, as well as the possibility of furloughs.

Hay did her best to convince the faculty that they are only rumors, but then the following remark had to raise some eyebrows: “We’re not going to have to take furloughs right now.” (Phew, glad she cleared that up.) “Now, I’m not saying it’s impossible. I’m not saying it’s not going to happen.”

So you’re telling me there’s a chance…?

Hay said that the future is unpredictable, especially considering recent events, like the State skipping out on $75 million. Hay said it might happen again in the near future or, even worse, the State might give the universities IO’s for a few months. In either case, Hay said that the UA has enough cash reserves on hand to continue dolling out payroll for a month, maybe two, and that “there may not be any warning signs.”

  • UA Schoolhouse Rock: Campus Consolidation Station, what’s your choice of libation? – We now have a few new schools that got the O.K. stamp of approval from the Faculty Senate. The first one, titled the School of Mathematical Sciences puts programs such as applied mathematics and statistics under one roof. Supposedly, though, the programs will continue to act separately and are now considered part of a whole only “for grant purposes,” according to Vice Provost for Academic Affairs Gail Burd, but one has to wonder. The school would function under a director who would rotate each year, and cash and revenue flow will supposedly go unchanged. We’ll see about that.

Enter Theatre, Film and Television, another newly created and newly named entity that was approved by the Senate on Monday. Those involved said the change was curriculum-based and meant to “facilitate new undergraduate possibilities,” presumably with new, creative majors that combine classes from the three different focuses. There will also be a new, full-time director.

  • Emeritus faculty—dead, or just forgetting their roots? – The Senate also took the allotted time to make a change to its bylaws. Up until now, emeritus faculty were allowed to vote in faculty matters—most notably, the Faculty Elections. Noticing that many retired former faculty members are falling out of touch with the university, the Faculty Senate decided to cut them out of the mix altogether. The new rule: Emeritus faculty automatically retain their voting privileges for the first five years after their absence. After that, as long as they let the faculty leadership know they do not wish to relinquish their vote, they get to keep it each year. If they say nothing, their voting privileges are revoked after the five-year term.

2 responses to “Faculty Senate: When the boss is away, the kids will play

  1. Pingback: The Desert Lamp » Campus » WatchCat on the Faculty Senate

  2. Pingback: ABOR Preview, part 1: Who will stick up for students in the tuition battle? « The WatchCat News-Journal

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