Academic professionals and administrators at U choose a new voice

WBy Jake Weyer When Teri Wallace entered her master’s degree program at the University in 1987, she thought she would eventually get a job in K-12 education.

Sixteen years later and after holding approximately six University positions, Wallace is still here. She works as a research associate at the Institute on Community Integration, part of the College of Education and Human Development.

“I discovered that I really loved the University,” Wallace said.

On Friday, the University Board of Regents recognized Wallace’s appointment to another position: chairwoman of the Council for Academic Professionals and Administrators, a group of more than 4,000 University employees. Wallace’s appointment was official July 1.

Academic professionals and administrators – including instructors, advisers, librarians, coaches and others – teach students, run departments, conduct research and direct programs among many other things.

As chairwoman, Wallace will act as the group’s voice. Almost all work under one-year contracts, giving them little job security in the face of University-wide budget cuts.

“(Academic professionals and administrators’) importance is critical to the running of the University,” Wallace said. “In any effectively run organization, you need to pay attention to the needs of the people that work there.”

Employees represented by the council are not faculty, but many of them do work similar to that of faculty members, said Carol Carrier, vice president of the Office of Human Resources.

Faculty members are evaluated based on teaching, research and service, Carrier said. Although many academic professionals and administrators teach courses, they are not evaluated on the same criteria because their work is so diverse. Academic professionals might teach a couple classes, but devote the rest of their time to research.

Another difference is that faculty members are eligible for tenure, but academic professionals and administrators are not.

Wallace has served on the council for two years. She replaces Randy Croce, who stepped down as chairman after heading the council for two years.

Croce, a coordinator in the University’s Industrial Relations Center, decided not to run for a third one-year term.

“Because of the budget cuts, I have to devote more time to generating funds for my department,” Croce said.

As chairwoman, Wallace’s duties will include setting committee meeting agendas and relaying recommendations from the council to the administration.

“Faculty groups have way more say than we do, but because we understand the issues Ö we’ve had an incredible working relationship (with the administration),” Wallace said. “We’ve definitely seen action taken on things we’ve brought up.”

Tom Bartholomay, a research fellow who worked with Wallace, said Wallace is a capable person.

“She’s very sharp, fast with thinking and very astute. She always takes the high road.”

Jake Weyer covers faculty and staff issues and welcomes comments at [email protected]