Members of Flagler College’s faculty are forming a Faculty Senate that will give them an official, collective voice on decisions that shape the institution.
When the Faculty Senate convenes in September, it will bring faculty representatives from every college department together with administrators, including President William T. Abare, Jr. and Dean of Academic Affairs Paula Miller. The group will examine educational policy issues ranging from the college calendar to student activities and admissions, according to Barbara Blonder, an assistant professor of natural sciences and member of the Senate.
“It is an absolutely historic moment in Flagler history,” she said. “I am really honored and excited to be a part of this. It has great potential.”
Many colleges and universities have faculty senates, but not all of them. Florida has about a dozen, according to the Florida Advisory Council of Faculty Senates. The senates create shared governance of an institution by seeking input from faculty members, who typically offer a variety of perspectives and expertise.
Miller said Flagler’s Faculty Senate will give faculty members a formal opportunity to voice their opinions.
“I’ve always had an open door to my office,” she said. “[But] in all educational institutions, communication between the faculty and administrators can be challenging.”
The Senate will give an opportunity for participation between faculty and administrators.
“I believe the formalization of a Faculty Senate will be another avenue to obtain feedback, learn of instructional concerns and better facilitate quality educational opportunities for our students,” she said.
Political science professor Dr. Arthur Vanden Houten said the idea for Flagler’s senate came from the college’s growth, which will bring both opportunities and challenges. Recent developments have included rehabilitation of the Art Building, construction of a new student center and purchase of the Florida East Coast Railway buildings at the corner of King and Malaga streets.
“Flagler is entering a dynamic period in its history,” Vanden Houten said. “The president and the faculty agreed that meaningful faculty participation, power and responsibility were essential in meeting those challenges.”
According to Vanden Houten, there will be 10 at-large members with 10 more elected in the fall as each academic department votes for one representative.
Veronica Holt contributed to this article.