The Ad Hoc University Personnel System Committee held a campus-wide open forum on Wednesday, Oct. 29 to discuss and receive feedback regarding a proposal for the restructuring of the university’s shared governance.
“The point is to separate academic issues from campus-wide issues,” said Katie Cronmiller, the vice president of the Student Government Association. “Right now, classified staff, which includes anywhere from academic services to the janitorial staff, are not involved in Faculty Senate.”
Faculty Senate currently includes academic staff and faculty, making these groups the main representation of governance.
“Approximately one-third of Faculty Senate is academic staff,” said Julie Schneider, a member of the Student Academic Advising Center. “This always made us feel compromised when it came to making decisions on university issues.”
The proposal is meant to incorporate the formation of a Common Council that would encompass classified staff in the decision-making process.
“If you look at the current Faculty Senate structure and the proposed structure, it looks like a significant portion of the existing Faculty Senate would be chopped off and moved to a new structure that appears to report to the Chancellor,” said Karlene Ferrante, an associate professor of communication. “If you are going to make a change of this magnitude, it’s incumbent upon the proposer to give some compelling reasons for the change.”
Chris Slattery, the president of SGA, said this change is being driven by the decision of the University of Wisconsin system to grant classified staff shared governance rights. Shared governance rights of faculty, academic staff, students and administration are defined in Wisconsin State Statute 36.
“SGA is really excited about the classified staff, academic staff and faculty working together,” Slattery said. “Everyone’s voice deserves to be heard.”
Under this new construction, the Common Council would handle university issues and Faculty Senate would handle curricular issues.
“I believe as drafted, the proposal raises a number of issues. For example, should classified employees decide which faculty research proposals get funded?” said an anonymous senior faculty member. “Similarly, budgetary issues affect the academic direction of the university. These have a direct impact on curriculum that the Wisconsin State Statutes intended to give to the faculty.”
It is apparent that action must be taken to incorporate the classified staff into the university’s governance with equal distribution of duties. The committee has many more questions to answer prior to implementation