My Year as Faculty Senate President

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Submitted by Carol Bredemeyer,

Asst. Dir. for Reference & Research Services,

Chase College of Law Library, Northern Kentucky University

During the 2000-01 school year, I served as Faculty Senate President at Northern Kentucky University. I was the first librarian to hold this position. I thought you might be interested in my experiences.

The job comes with one-half reassigned time, so the library received money to hire extra help to compensate for my time away. However, it's not all that easy to extricate yourself from half your job - the Reference Desk hours part was easy, others were not. Part of the reasoning for the reassigned time is that the Senate President be available to attend meetings. I served on nine university committees (some of which I hadn't known existed, one referred to by my predecessor as the "slit my wrist" committee!).

The week after I returned from the 2000 AALL Annual Meeting, our office secretary (whom we share with the Staff Congress) informed me she was taking another position. We had to get approval to replace her, plus go through advertising, interviewing, etc. Bottom line - I had to get out the agenda for the first two Senate meetings by myself and by begging help from other units - the Provost's Office was very helpful to us during this interim. The secretarial transition was actually part of a two-step process. The secretary who left had only been on the job a few months - she replaced a long-time employee who had been ill. Work in the office had not been done at a normal pace for some time and no procedures manual existed. I spent a lot of time helping the new secretary get things organized and caught up.

One of the year's hot issues was actually library related. The university wanted to start a Faculty Development Center to assist faculty in incorporating technology into their teaching and other teaching assistance activities. Space is a precious commodity on our campus (One of those nine committees was the University Space Committee) and one possible location was the Main Library. The Main Library's faculty was very unhappy about this, plus they were in the middle of a director search. A good portion of a Senate meeting was spent discussing this issue. In response to a message I sent to the ALL-SIS listserv, some of you shared what your campuses were doing in this area, which was very helpful to me. The new library director was supportive of housing the center and it should open soon.

A faculty task force was completing a proposal for a new General Education program. I thought this would be a good year for this issue to come up because my department had no turf to protect in this battle. The issue never made it to a Senate vote (and still hasn't), but many faculty were holding their venom for this issue, and most other issues before the Senate passed with little debate. The agenda for our last meeting of the year had eight voting items on the agenda and was over in one hour! Maybe it was the fact that some members hadn't finished grading yet. Maybe I scared them when I said we only had the room for two hours. Our end of the year meeting begins with a lunch - later I told the Provost we needed more money in our budget for food because we were obviously more productive when we were fed. I had already decided that refreshments would have been served at any meeting where General Education was on the agenda.

One new initiative of the Senate was the electronic distribution of the meeting agenda and minutes. Not only did this cut down on our printing expenses, access to the faculty-all distribution list allowed us to distribute the information to all the faculty. Senators and top-level administrators still get paper copies, but we still cut the paper distribution by more than half. Blast e-mail also allowed us to solicit faculty input on issues such as employee benefits rather than depend on word of mouth via department representatives. We also did our first online election and introduced a pilot program for online evaluation of faculty by students.

Faculty Senate has always given me more of a university wide perspective on issues, but as president I had to deal with some issues that weren't as important to the College of Law. I also attended many more university functions than I would in other years (receptions, lectures, etc.). This year I feel very out of the loop. Although there were some rough moments and difficult personalities to deal with, overall the experience was very positive. I found that personal touches were always appreciated - sometimes a handwritten note is much more effective than an e-mail. I also consider myself lucky that the only newspaper reporter I had to deal with was from the campus newspaper.