The Faculty Senate is experiencing a major change in its administration following the resignation of the Senate President Daniel O’Hara.
O’Hara announced his resignation last Monday, due to a family medical crisis that will demand much of his time. Jane DeRose Evans, the former vice president of the Senate, has filled the position.
The Faculty Senate is an organization of faculty members who have tenure, or who are on a tenure track. They work to give advice and recommendations to the administration and the Board of Trustees.
“Usually, this has meant primarily, but not exclusively, curricular matters, as in the case of developing a new general education program,” said O’Hara.
During his brief but influential six-month tenure as president, O’Hara was an integral figure in the passage of the new General Education Program. In Dec. 2004, the Board of Trustees approved the Senate’s recommendations for changes in the undergraduate core curriculum.
These changes came about only after many compromises made between the faculty and the administration.
“The primary means to overcome this resistance was the spirit of cooperation in which I, the members of the Steering Committee, and President [David] Adamany and Provost [Ira] Schwartz were able to work to compromise in the best interests of the students enough so that the vast majority of the faculty could approve the final version,” O’Hara said.
There are three groups that comprise the Faculty Senate: the Steering Committee, the Representative Senate, and the University Senate.
The Steering Committee is the Executive Committee of the Senate, and is made up of representatives from every school and college in the university. This committee meets once a week to discuss academic matters. The president of the Senate also chairs the Steering Committee.
The Representative Senate comprises representatives from each school and college at the university, but acts as a legislative body on policy recommendations made by the Steering Committee. The number of representatives from each school depends on the number of faculty in the school. This Senate group meets once a month.
Finally, the University Senate is all of the faculty members in the Senate, and meets once a semester to approve the policies that have been set forth by the Steering Committee and the Representative Senate.
During his term as president, O’Hara also worked to return to established procedures and policies of the Senate by adding the position of parliamentarian to the meetings. The officer in this position will work to keep the meetings more orderly, and the proceedings fair.
As president of the Senate, O’Hara was responsible for setting the agenda for all meetings, and often acted as a liaison between the faculty and the administration.
“The Senate president chairs all meetings of the Steering Committee, the Representative Senate and the University Senate-so he or she is the primary continuing link among the various groups and between the faculty and the administration,” said O’Hara.
According to O’Hara, much of the work that Evans will become responsible for is the continuing development of the General Education Curriculum.
“The primary issue facing the new president will be the process for staffing the governance structure of the new general education program. A director, area coordinators, and a General Education Executive Committee are positions that all will have to be filled,” O’Hara said.
The provost will be ultimately responsible for making the final decisions about these positions, but will take the recommendations of the Senate into consideration.
“The Senate president and the provost and his office will have to work closely together on this process,” O’Hara said.
Evans, who has been a member of the Steering Committee since 2000, was officially sworn into office last week.
Future issues on the agenda of the Senate will also include discussions on the requirements for a major at the university.
Evans said this is a pressing issue, not only for the students, but the faculty as well.
“President Adamany had told the faculty that he is going to look at the number of semester hours needed to complete a major. Since the faculty have historically been in the forefront of curricular matters, I am urging the faculty to ‘get out in front’ of this issue. They should begin thinking about the majors and how they will fit into the General Education requirements,” Evans said.
O’Hara said the change in the presidency will not be substantial to the students, but will be felt mostly by the Senate as a slight change in operational styles.
“Jane Evans has been part of this general education process for years … and is a superb person who always has the best interests of students at heart,” O’Hara said.
O’Hara will continue teaching and researching in the English Department.
Emily Catalano can be reached at email@example.com.