UNCG Campus Weekly

Campus Weekly is published each Wednesday when classes are in session. In the summer, it is published biweekly.

Forum on Faculty Governance, Academic Restructuring

The Nov. 17 Faculty Senate Forum was titled “The Role of Faculty Governance in the Restructuring Process.”

The goal in the current restructuring is to create a single academic unit, either a school or a college, that would build on UNCG’s strengths in health and human development.

Faculty Senate Chair John Gamble began the meeting with his thoughts of what had transpired, over the past months, in regard to the Academic Restructuring process.

I am “not here to defend the chancellor’s decision to merge two units into one,” Gamble said. He was there at the forum to listen.

He described how in early August, “HES faculty members contacted me, to come to a meeting.” Many of the HES faculty were there, he said. He talked with Faculty Senate and Staff Senate members, and also met with the provost and the chancellor.

After describing at the Nov. forum his involvement in the issue over the past months, he spoke about the Faculty Senate.

The Faculty Senate is a recommending body, he said. “We don’t have authority” over most of the things that come before us, he said. “Our power lies in persuasion.” Also, “it’s a representative body,” he said. A resolution is the will of the senate, he said. “My job is to represent the will of the senate.”

Dr. Sue Dennison was the first to speak, questioning the idea that restructuring is necessary. “That’s a big assumption,” she said.

Dr. Bob Strack spoke. “I and others wrote the resolution” the Faculty Senate passed on Sept. 1, he said. The resolution was titled “To Reaffirm the Core Values of the University for Inclusive and Transparent Governance During Organizational Change.” He explained the rationale behind some of the resolution’s wording.

Dr. Ben Ramsey spoke, as did Dr. John Rife. Rife gave some historical perspective, describing some of the faculty being at odds with Chancellor Sullivan over whether or not to preserve the Chancellor’s Residence (now the Visitor’s Center.) The faculty’s relationship with Sullivan was better afterward, he said.

Dr. Deb Bell noted that she wanted to be able to see minutes of meetings and have a clear way to access that information.

Chancellor Brady noted that communication was a challenge. There is the Budget Central web site, and the Restructuring Committee is expected to create a communication plan. She noted the current Academic Restructuring web site does not have summaries of the committee’s discussions, and she has offered the committee the assistance of her office to help get the content on the web.

Dr. Sam Miller gave historical perspective on disputes on campus, over Peabody Park and the preservation of the Chancellor’s House. He said he liked the goals in the current restructuring. “I just question the way we’re getting there,” he said. Taking the time to bring things to Faculty Senate “keeps the trust of the Faculty Senate.”

Dr. Rebecca Adams offered what she called “myth-busting on shared governance of the past.” She said with earlier administrations, the Faculty Senate had little voice in such things as the strategic plan. “The current one had a lot more faculty input,” she said. She later added, “I think we have a bigger voice now [than under earlier administrations].”

Dr. Dan Winkler picked up on that line of thought. “Let’s look forward,” he said, adding “The chancellor walked into a mess – they’re cutting left and right,” he said.

He added, “I hear a communication problem. I think we’ve made some headway today.”

Brady spoke a bit about the stark budget for the next years.

Dr. Jan Wassel said, “All universities are going through this,” referring to restructuring. She added, “We’re late to the table.”

“Do we want it all to stay the same?” she asked.

Dr. Anna Marshall-Baker expressed concern that four of the five units in HES are not about “health.” “We’re going to get rid of HES’s historic strengths,” she said. We’re not building on those, she said. “We’re tearing those apart.”

Strack said there was dissension in camps, but “there is opportunity here … Opportunities for being known, something big, new.” Instead of talking about negatives, “let’s be collegial about possibilities,” he said.

Dr. Eric Ford said, “The worst mistake will be doing nothing.”

We’re going to have to have an element of trust, Ford told the faculty gathered. “[UNCG] can look stronger at the end.”