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Departing the Senate, part 2: positive reflections

I’ve served on the Faculty Senate for five years now, and been on the Executive Committee as Secretary of the Senate for four years, and we’ve certainly accomplished some good things. Last time I complained about my recent experience, and now I’d like to spend some time thinking about the good things we’ve accomplished.

Positive recollections #

Because I’m a list nerd, I’m going to list out the items in reverse chronological order. These are going to be voted outcomes from the full senate. This doesn’t reflect the excellent and important work conducted by our standing and ad-hoc committees, nor the important work of discussing policies that otherwise don’t come to a vote. Looking back, we accomplished quite a bit!

2023-24 #

  • Approved a new Ombuds Charter

    Expanding the formalizing the program supporting our faculty in their times of need.

  • Approved new automatically-awarded Associates of Science degrees

    Giving students the ability to automatically receive the AS credential when they complete the course-work. If students leave school after 2 years, they have a degree! If they keep going, they have the motivation of having accomplished a good thing!

  • Approved a BBA degree in Hospitality

    Wichita is home of many, many service sector jobs that can be covered by the broad umbrella of “hospitality.” Unlike other universities and community colleges in Kansas with programs in hospitality, ours is focused on the management side of the business. The BBA degree facilitates future managers and leaders in the sector, giving them an edge over the competition.

2022-23 #

  • Approved a policy on non-tenure-track (NTT) faculty appointments

    This gives NTT faculty more employment protection, further enforcing our University’s support of this important class of faculty.1

  • Passed a General Education Transfer Policy

    This was a hard-fought win. Although detractors argued we needed to say know to the Board of Regents, we’d have been the lone university/college in Kansas that didn’t make transfer seamless. And as Kansas’ transfer destination, that would leave a lot of students out.

  • Created two important task force committees:

    • Teaching Evaluation Task Force

      This group is responsible for first implementing a new student evaluation tool (which was fully implemented by Fall 23), and tasked with exploring other ways to evaluate teaching that do not rely on student perception.

    • Faculty Evaluation Alignment Committee

      This group is tasked with implementing a computerized system for the faculty activity report. This semester would enable faculty members to spend less time duplicating effort completing Word documents that no one reads. The system will integrate with the tenure and promotion document creation, again streamlining that process. They are also tasked with ways we as an institution should be evaluating faculty, e.g. is tenure and promotion aligned with our reality? (this work is ongoing, computer system should be generally available by Fall 24)

2021-22 #

  • Approved a BA in American Sign Language

    Previously, we’ve simply had ASL as a minor. Now our students can complete this as their main concentration giving them an important credential for their future careers.

  • Participated in the hiring process for a new Provost

    This doesn’t look like much, but the search for the new EVP/Provost was an undertaking. Although we ended up choosing our interim (you might notice a theme a little later), it was a fair process.

  • Voted down a proposal for A+

    I’m putting this down as a win, even though it’s a negative action. Although I am in principle in favor of an A+, the data presented by the Student Government Associate for justification was questionable at best.

2020-21 #

  • Passed a resolution calling for renewable contracts for NTT faculty

    You’ll notice the small evolution in our support for NTTs!

  • Passed the initial Ombuds proposal

    Although in 2024 we passed a formal charter, this was our first baby-steps in formalizing the system.

  • Particpated in the hiring process for a new University President

    We ultimately chose Interim President Muma4, but he was the right man for the job. Unlike others, he’d been interim president (twice!), provost, avp, and faculty member for WSU over two decades. He was uniquely qualified for this job. And like our provost search before, this one was fair, which is crucial.

  • Voted down a statement of no confidence in the Board of Regents

    Did I mention that we were hiring a president because KBOR fired our president after 9 months? It’s true!

    … I mean, we had reason to be upset, but that isn’t the right message. They did their job. We’re upset. We move on.

  • Passed a resolution denouncing the Board of Regents’ COVID program closure policy

    Denounce actions, not people! This one turned out to be prescient when Emporia State used it to fire faculty members unrelated to the pandemic.

  • Passed a bachelor degree in applied linguistics

    This one is really neat, because students have choices of direction including (my favorite) computational linguistics!

  • … and of course COVID management stuff

    Like the rest of the world, that was front and center. And we did our best as an Exec team and Senate to weather the crisis.

  1. As a fun aside, until this semester, I was a “temporary” employee for 11 years. Each year I was hired/fired. Turns out the math department was the only one who didn’t know what “temporary” meant. Thanks to support of my chair, I got reclassified as an actual (semi-)permanent faculty member!2 ↩︎

  2. I say “semi” permanent because I don’t have a PhD in mathematics (and so, no tenure) But replacing me would likely involve having to hire three other people, and I’m cheap (making ~2/3 of one tenure-track faculty member). As long as I don’t choke a student, I’ll be fine.3 ↩︎

  3. … unless I was the basketball coach, and then I could scream racial epithets and choke students all I wanted! ↩︎

  4. I said you’d notice a theme. ↩︎