Panel urges faculty communication

Sarah McKenzie

With University President Mark Yudof’s slimmed-down administration, faculty leaders hope a realignment of their own will give them more say in University policy-making.
A nine-member task force –representing a cross section of the University — made a series of recommendations to faculty leaders Thursday, urging better communication within departments and colleges. The panel also suggested that the Faculty Consultative Committee have a more direct relationship with the administration.
“President Yudof has decentralized the decision-making,” said Martha Kvanbeck, task force member. “Faculty consultation within the colleges needs to be strengthened.”
Under the new administrative structure, two of the three former provost positions were merged and left to report to Executive Vice President and Provost Bob Bruininks.
Key suggestions in the report include: regular communication between senators and college faculty members, meaningful consultative committees in each college and shared governance between faculty and administrators.
The task force also recommended holding an orientation session on the current faculty governance model each fall for new staff and faculty members.
Task force chairwoman and biochemistry professor Mary Dempsey said individual colleges and departments need to take the initiative to improve communication after consulting the new report.
The panel conducted interviews with faculty, deans and administrators over a seven-month period. Panel members found that, in many cases, faculty consultative committees were nonexistent or ineffective, Dempsey said.
Victor Bloomfield, committee chairman, said the report deserves close attention. He asked Bruininks to free up time to discuss faculty issues further with other University governing bodies.
Bruininks responded favorably to Bloomfield’s request.
“I would welcome it,” Bruininks said. “I would like to find more ways to interact together.”
The committee gave its official approval to the task force’s suggestions during the Thursday meeting.
After receiving the go-ahead from the consultative committee, task force members said they plan to start implementing its suggestions immediately.
“They make a great deal of sense,” Bruininks said. “Our office will really work to make it happen.”