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Veteran Chair Explains Collegial Governance, Its Role on Campus and Current Challenges


From Dateline (November 11, 2004)

Q: What is the role of the Academic Senate? Has it changed over the years?

Essentially, the Academic Senate serves to represent faculty on a variety of venues – this can be done either formally or informally. We provide advice and counsel to administrative leaders, as well as insight into how the faculty views various positions and policies. I think part of our job is to ask tough questions.

We recommend actions to the president, and he listens carefully to what the senate has to say. As the university has grown, we’ve grown as well. We have 44 senators who represent the various colleges and departments on campus, as well as administrative representatives.


Q: What are some of the major issues this year?

As you can guess, there are several. One concern is the declining numbers of tenured faculty members. As we bring in more students, the workload increases and so we need more professors. In an area like Southern California, where property values are high, it can be difficult to attract and retain new tenure-track faculty.

I also think we need to look at our criteria for tenure. It’s often more difficult to be published today and many of these young professors are being encouraged to take on leadership and civic roles. In some instances, I believe we should reward service and civic engagement more appropriately.


Q: Are there other issues that are causing concern?

We are reviewing policies – many of them several years old. There are lots of rules and regulations that may have been appropriate at the time they were drafted but now no longer apply. I’m currently looking at 149 university policy statements; 79 are out for review.


Q: Seventy-nine policy statements are out for review?

Yes, many of them are quite old – some people have either forgotten them or weren’t even aware of them. I’m getting lots of e-mails from people who haven’t seen these in years. That’s fine – we’re just doing some housekeeping to see what should stay and what needs to be dismissed or revised.

Q: Another issue is civility on campus?

This is a problem on a number of campuses, not just Fullerton. In fact, I think it’s a general problem in our society. People just aren’t as respectful of others as they should be. For instance, when I was giving a test last week, about a quarter of the students had cell phones that went off. It’s distracting and, quite frankly, rude to others – especially during a test!

Of course, that’s just one example. I am concerned when I see rudeness and disrespect on campus – faculty to students, students to faculty, students and faculty to staff members and vice versa. I think many have lost sight of how to treat one another. I find that disturbing.


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Q&A with Bedell

• Jack Bedell

• What is the role of the Academic Senate? Has it changed over the years?

• What are some of the major issues this year?

• Are there other issues that are causing concern?

• Seventy-nine policy statements are out for review?

Another issue is civility on campus.

• Do Academic Senates differ from campus to campus?

• Is there a structure in terms of how the various colleges are represented?

• What are the qualities that an Academic Senate should have to ensure that it is effective?

• Why do you keep serving as chair?

• Are there any accomplishments you are most proud of?


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