Faculty Senate selects chair at first meeting

By Alicia Nierenstein | anierenstein@flagler.edu

Flagler’s newly established Faculty Senate is officially operating under the new by-laws of their constitution.

Dr. Arthur Vanden Houten, a professor in the liberal studies department, will preside as chair of the Faculty Senate and Barbara Blonder, a professor in the math department, will serve as the vice chair.

“This is the first time in Flagler history that we [the faculty] have had the opportunity for shared governance, which is significant,” Blonder said. “At least equally significant is Dr. Abare’s support of this endeavor.”

Although he foresees the Faculty Senate being a successful entity, Vanden Houten said this first year should mainly be a transition stage.

“Everyone is still trying to get a sense of the implications of this dramatic new step,” Vanden Houten said. “Developing ways to work together will take some trial and error, and I see myself doing quite a bit of learning this year.”

On Sept. 7, 22 appointed members of the Faculty Senate gathered at the Ringhaver Student Center to be sworn into office. The Senate consists of one representative from each of the 10 departments, 10 at large representatives, both the Dean and Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs, and President William T. Abare Jr.

Prior to the Faculty Senate, there was the Faculty Welfare Committee, an organization that dealt with faculty issues by forwarding them to an advisory board, rather than having shared governance with the president of the college. “The college will be better for it [the Senate],” Vanden Houten said. “But I also think that faculty, administration and students will all individually benefit.”

“The faculty has not had a concerted voice to take to Dr. Abare. The Faculty Welfare Committee [the Senate’s predecessor] was a great organization, but was never able to be an official governing body,” Tamara Wilson, an assistant professor in the English Department said.

Abare feels the notion of shared governance is very important for an institution of higher education, particularly in areas related to the institution’s core mission. Flagler’s mission is education, Abare said. The faculty is the key element, and they should have a voice in determining policies related to the core program.

“I embrace the notion of shared governance and I am very optimistic that we can work together to enable Flagler College to become the very best institution that it can be,” Abare said.

The final draft of the by-laws, which the Faculty Senate will follow, was approved on Aug. 30. “These by-laws are pattered after the U.S. Senate,” Blonder said. The by-laws are now open for discussion, and will be for the entire academic year. By keeping them open for discussion, this allows changes to be made, should any faculty member have a stipulation with the current by-laws. They are now being transitioned, and if any issue arises, they may be used to resolve it.

The agenda of the new senate will include governing faculty issues, such as school curriculum, student life and faculty promotion. As opposed to the previous Faculty Welfare Committee, the senate will now take “formal action” on issues, Vanden Houten said. However, as of right now, the main agenda according to Vanden Houten is to hammer out the by-laws, which can still be altered if necessary.

No faculty member has come forward with an issue thus far, but it is expected that one will arise at some point during these two semesters. Should a faculty member find an issue which needs to be addressed, they will bring it to Vanden Houten, and a meeting will then be arranged for the entire Faculty Senate to discuss.

The Faculty Senate will reconvene at some point in October, and then once every month.

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