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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Procedural infighting erupts during Faculty Senate meeting

Neal+Allen%2C+social+sciences+senator%2C+asks+a+question+during+a+Faculty+Senate+meeting+on+March+25.
Jacinda Hall
Neal Allen, social sciences senator, asks a question during a Faculty Senate meeting on March 25.

Things got heated in the Faculty Senate as senators in the back galley and front seating area argued about procedure during a discussion about department chair policy.

Some senators sitting in the back galley were frustrated that they weren’t able to speak on either portion of the bill due to imposed time limits. Senators are typically encouraged to sit in the front area of the room so that they are more accessible to those passing around the microphone and can be easily identified as senators.

Jolynn Dowling, Faculty Senate president, stepped into the conversation to further clarify what was being voted on and reminded everyone that this was a first read of the policy, meaning that they would have another opportunity to speak publicly on the policy before it was passed.

The current policy about department chair eligibility states that no nominee for chair can be below the rank of assistant professor. Mathew Muether, chair of the rules committee and associate professor of physics, said this is not the reality across campus as many departments have non-tenured and non-tenure track faculty chairing them.

The motion on the floor at the time would split the proposed changes into two different revisions to the policy. One would change the eligibility requirements for department chairs, and the other would define who is entitled to vote for department chairs.

George Dehner, a history senator, said the policy is a “solution in search of a problem,” and because departments already have non-tenure track faculty as chairs, the decisions should be left to the departments.

Elizabeth Heilman, an education senator, said faculty without research responsibilities may not be an appropriate choice to evaluate faculty for tenure. She cited a situation that arose in her department where the chair failed to get tenure and moved to non-tenure track. This chair, according to Heilman, “did not understand” a faculty member’s research during their tenure evaluation.

Muether suggested the committee could go back and add more flexibility for the departments before the bill came for a second read.

The other piece of the policy regarding who can nominate and vote for department chairs was ultimately tabled until the next meeting.

Senators can pass on comments via email to Muether.

Non-tenure and tenure track committee composition

The Faculty Senate voted to remove a non-voting student from both the committees for non-tenure and tenure track promotion and oversight.

Neal Allen, social sciences senator, brought issue with a student being on either committee and made the motion to strike the seats.

“I do not think that there is any justification for a student being in that particular committee, and it is the wrong place for a student to have been put upon university policy,” Allen said.

While Allen said students should not be involved in this particular process, he clarified that he still values student consultation in university decision-making.

“There’s a lot of places where we could use students,” Allen said. “I would be open to a student having a spot in this body, but this is a point where a student cannot have useful input.”

Both Susan Castro and Atul Rai asked the rules committee to look at policies from other universities before making a final decision.

“I would not be happy voting on that right now,” Castro, former Faculty Senate president, said. “I would not be voting in favor at the moment, although I would be happy to revisit it when I have more information.”

The body also voted to approve the proposed changes to the non-tenure track committee policy to make the policy more specific to the non-tenure track process.

This revision will move on to the general faculty meeting on April 29 at 3:30 p.m. to make the recommended changes to university and Faculty Senate policy. The meeting will be held in Woolsey 110A.

Timekeeping and potential parliamentary procedures

Due to multiple instances of the body not completing its full agenda during the year, the Faculty Senate is exploring ways to stay within its time boundaries. During this meeting, each agenda item was given an allotted amount of time and a timekeeper was used to try and keep the meeting on time.

Because of the meeting’s hefty agenda, it was extended by 30 minutes to accommodate the full charge.

Dowling also said that due to the nature of the Faculty Senate, the body has been disregarding a parliamentary procedure that states that every member of a body can only speak once until everyone in the body has spoken. She said the rule could be brought back if it would be helpful in making sure everyone is heard.

The next Faculty Senate meeting is on April 9 at 3:30 p.m. in Woolsey Hall 110A.

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About the Contributors
Trinity Ramm, Managing Editor
Trinity Ramm is the managing editor and former sports editor for The Sunflower. This is her second year on staff. Ramm is a senior English Lit major and a sociology minor with a certificate in film studies. In her limited spare time, she can be found at the movie theater, browsing some obscure film database or crocheting. Ramm uses she/her pronouns.
Jacinda Hall, Podcast Editor
Jacinda Hall is the podcast editor for The Sunflower. Hall is a junior majoring in communications with an emphasis in journalism and minoring in English literature. Her favorite quote is by Kurt Cobain: “I’d rather be hated for who I am, than loved for who I am not.” In her free time, Hall likes to go to the gym, crochet and make fancy beverages. Hall's pronouns are she/her.

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