Archive for Saturday, August 11, 2001

Faculty Senate wants to get the word out

Speaker’s bureau established

August 11, 2001


In many areas, Kansas University faculty have the same concerns as top administrators.

For instance, they want to do a better job at getting the word out to the public about the school.

To that end, the Faculty Senate has put together a speaker's bureau of professors who, starting this fall, will be available to talk to any group interested in hearing from them.

"I think it would be great to have a KU faculty member talk with every Rotary and Kiwanis club in the state," said Tom Beisecker, associate professor of communication studies and president of the Faculty Senate.

Beisecker said he was in western Kansas earlier this year and was impressed by how hungry people there were for news about KU.

"We want the rest of the state to understand how KU affects them and has something to offer," he said.

But getting KU's image out to the rest of the state is not the only concern of the school's faculty.

The Faculty Senate, which includes every faculty member on campus, is part of a larger governing body that makes recommendations to KU's administration on a range of issues.

Thirty-nine faculty are elected by the Faculty Senate to become the Faculty Council and serve on the University Council, which includes representatives of students, classified and unclassified employees.

The Faculty Council also elects six faculty members to serve on a smaller executive committee of various constituent groups.

This committee, called the Senate Executive Committee, meets weekly from September through April and four times during the summer.

"KU has a very strong tradition of shared governance," Beisecker said. "The KU administration has a long history of listening to the Faculty Senate and responding to initiatives the senate has sent."

The Faculty Senate's role is to focus on faculty issues, such as public relations, fund-raising, salaries, tenure and the allocation of resources.

The tenure track

During the past year, the Faculty Senate helped push through major recommendations, including a policy allowing students to repeat courses that they had failed or had received a D, and an intellectual property provision that spells out the rights of the school and faculty working on research.

"We had a good year," said James Carothers, an English professor who was Faculty Senate president during the last school year.

He said salary and fringe benefits are a major faculty concern, but recent attempts by state policymakers to increase faculty salaries has been much appreciated. Despite a tight budget, the Legislature recently enacted an average 6 percent pay raise for faculty.

"That has been encouraging," he said.

Beisecker said salary concerns will continue to rank high among faculty, especially in light of the announcement that the Legislature will study over the summer whether the salary increases have had the desired effect of keeping quality instructors in Kansas.

"I think they (the salary increases) have had some effect," Beisecker said. "There is still tremendous salary pressures among the more mobile sectors of the university community."

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