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Faculty seeks more academic influence

USF is at a time when its faculty feels almost paralyzed in policy-making procedures. It is also at the same time when the administration is trying to create a new relationship with faculty.

Because of changes in the university’s governance structure, Faculty Senate president Greg Paveza said the faculty needs to engage in more discussion on the nature of shared governance at USF.

And Wednesday was the first time since 1984 that the Faculty Senate held a general faculty meeting to discuss the feelings they have about shared governance.

“It comes about out of a number of issues that have happened in which faculty felt disenfranchised and to which the administration responded,” Paveza said.

Paveza left the floor open for faculty to comment on concerns they have had during the past few months.

Faculty members presented suggestions for how they could increase their power in academic procedures as opposed to allowing the Board of Trustees to hold all the control.

Alvin Wolfe, chairman for the College of Arts and Sciences advisory council, said faculty could start by eliminating the emergency rules that were put in place for 90 days by the BOT.

The BOT changed a rule regarding faculty misconduct Jan. 21 and returned the rule back to its original form as it was under the collective bargaining agreement, which expired Jan. 7.

“We should call for a retraction in the rules,” Wolfe said. “If they could rescind that one, they could recall the other 15 (rules).”

But Provost S. David Stamps said that if the Board rescinds the temporary rules, the rules would not be returned to the rules in the collective bargaining agreement, but to a set of “old rules” that relate to the university overall.

“The old rules have 40 examples of misconduct,” Stamps said. “I don’t want that, and you don’t want that. In all seriousness, you don’t want to go back to those old rules.”

Several faculty members also expressed the concern that the Faculty Senate and faculty union need to gain more power by increasing their participation.

Anthropology professor Elizabeth Bird said the faculty union is crucial, but faculty also need to become more involved in the Faculty Senate.

“We’re at a point now where we should stop demonizing the Board of Trustees, demonizing administrators and start to think about how can we now begin to talk,” Bird said. “We need to address the Board directly and educate them about what shared governance is.”

Mathematics professor Gregory McColm said that faculty need to put support behind both the Faculty Senate and faculty union in order to protect their rights.

“The Board of Trustees is merely a collection of community leaders that have been appointed by the people who pay the bills to make sure the community interests are kept in mind,” McColm said. “But the Board of Trustees does not have any natural training in dealing with academia, and it should really be the academics that are in control.”

Meanwhile, other faculty members expressed a need for the Faculty Senate and the BOT to settle issues and concerns through a series of meetings.

Communications professor Art Bochner said time is running out before the faculty gives up all hope in the USF administration’s promise to consult with the faculty on issues that will affect them.

“I think this meeting is the calm before the storm,” Bochner said.

Bochner said he believes faculty is failing to participate in meetings and committees because they feel powerless.

“When a group or individual feels (powerless), they either feel rage or they withdraw,” Bochner said. “We are standing on a very dangerous edge of a moment that could endanger the entire university. The administration has a tremendous opportunity to change the course of USF history … and we need to be a full partner in shared governance.”

In response, USF President Judy Genshaft said that she would like to arrange for the BOT and Faculty Senate to meet.

“I hope that you all see the provost, myself and administration are here, and this is an action,” Genshaft said. “We’re interested in shared governance. I hope this is not the calm before the storm. If at some point you want the Board in attendance, we can call them and have them come. You have my commitment. I appreciate your comments, and I hope you hear mine in a sense of wanting to work together.”