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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Faculty Senate president wants ‘multiple voices at the table to make the best decisions’

Nithin Reddy Nagapur
Then soon-to-be Faculty Senate President Jolynn Dowling speaks at Faculty Senate in April 2023.

Born and raised in a farming family in rural southwest Kansas, Jolynn Dowling is no stranger to hard work. Whether she was moving pipes with her father or looking after her siblings during the summer, Dowling was always eager for her next task.

“All these things build you as you grow up,” Dowling said. “That work ethic builds throughout your life, and I never didn’t have responsibility.”

Dowling’s drive followed her to university and her professional life. Dowling has what she calls “a helium hand,” a hand that shoots up to accept new duties whenever the opportunity arises. As the new Faculty Senate president, Dowling hopes to use her resiliency and fortitude to best address the needs of Wichita State faculty and students.

Dowling first knew she wanted to pursue a career in nursing when she was 13-years-old. Her grandmother had fallen ill, and Dowling took it upon herself to clean, comfort and care for her while she was in and out of the hospital. 

But it wasn’t until her junior year of high school, while in her school’s small library, that Dowling discovered what specific nursing field she wanted to pursue. 

“I read a book about the profession of neonatology (the care for premature infants), and it was just this knowing – I can’t describe it as anything else,” Dowling said. “I don’t even remember the title of the book … just for whatever reason, I picked that book to read, and I was just like, ‘This is what I’m supposed to do.’”

Dowling immediately set her sights on preparing for success through higher education. She enrolled at the University of Kansas before transferring to WSU for an early spring admission. She was greeted with increased accessibility to faculty and lifelong friendships.

“I felt (like) part of a family. My class had 20 students, and we would go out with each other (and) we would study together. It was a really strong, cohesive group that helped each other to succeed along the way,” Dowling said. “It’s something that not only did I experience as a student here, but also continue to experience as faculty.”

Dowling went straight to work at a local neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). She worked her way up the ranks while completing her master’s in nursing at WSU and earning her certifications as an advanced practice registered nurse, a neonatal nurse practitioner (NNP-BC) and an international board-certified lactation consultant. 

After 17 years of clinical practice, Dowling was offered an adjunct teaching position at WSU. She later accepted a professorship role.

In 2017, WSU’s Faculty Senate permitted non-tenured employees to join as representatives, and Dowling jumped on the chance to advocate for non-tenured faculty in the School of Nursing.

“You have to have multiple voices at the table to make the best decisions,” Dowling said. “Sometimes it can be a pretty hot table – you can have difficult discussions, you can have civil discussions – but whatever the outcome, it’s going to be the best outcome to empower the majority of the people.”

Earlier this year, Dowling was selected as the 2023-2024 Faculty Senate president. The Faculty Senate represents all WSU faculty in university governance. The representative forum meets twice every month to discuss student and faculty related concerns, which are presented by several committees.

As Dowling works toward her doctorate in educational leadership, she also will focus on furthering the Faculty Senate’s work from last year. Some pressing topics include the implementation and review of the new framework for a general education transfer program and working with the Student Conduct Office regarding academic integrity.

“There’s a lot of this work that isn’t complete, so it’s going to be a reboot as we begin the semester, and then we’ll see what comes down the pike,” Dowling said. “Ultimately, we want it for the good of our students who we educate.”

While the Faculty Senate will continue to address WSU faculty concerns, Dowling also hopes to inspire students and faculty members to work together to build positive relationships and create change.

“(Faculty Senate) is as much for faculty as it is for you as a student,” Dowling said. “(I would like) for students to share their experiences with their faculty. If there are positive things, we want to hear that. If there’s some challenges or barriers … We don’t know unless you tell us.”

Faculty members interested in joining the Faculty Senate or students interested in learning more about it can find additional information on the Faculty Senate website.

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About the Contributors
Allison Campbell, News Editor
Allison Campbell is the news editor for The Sunflower. A South African native, Campbell is a junior pursuing a journalism and media production degree with a minor in English. Campbell hopes to pursue a career in editing after graduation. They use any pronouns.
Nithin Reddy Nagapur, Photographer
Nithin Reddy Nagapur is a third-year photographer for The Sunflower.

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