Faculty senate up and running

By Kyle Myers-Haugh | gargoyle@flagler.edu

The Board of Trustees granted formal approval for the Faculty Senate and its Constitution on Feb. 20.

This was the final act of a process that began with a proposal by the Faculty Welfare Committee in the fall of 2006. Last semester, the Senate elected Dr. Arthur Vanden Houten, a professor in the liberal studies department, as its chair. The senate has been operating under the constitution for the past six months, and now, with the Board’s official approval, can function as a governing body on campus.

“The idea was just that the college reached a moment, in which shared government was appropriate,” Vanden Houten said.

Prior to its approval, President William T. Abare Jr., a longtime proponent for the establishment of such a governing body, spoke in front of the Board of Trustees, stressing his belief that its formation was essential to the college’s future and continued growth.

“One of the fundamental challenges is to appear responsible and representative,” Vanden Houten said.

A mass e-mail, sent to both faculty and students, yielded a detailed memo chronicling the actions of the senate’s first “official” session, which was held Feb. 28. According to this memo, the senate unanimously approved several committees, nearly all of which focus on education.

The lone exception — the Constitution Committee — is tasked with interpreting any ambiguous or vague details contained within the newly approved charter.

The senate is composed of 21 members, with each individual committee presided over by one representative and occupied by 10 faculty members. The senate’s main objective resides in the discussion and voting of “issues of faculty concern.”

Abare has the power to veto anything that he does not agree with, however, Vanden Houten was quick to stress that this executive privilege would be seldom used.

At the end of the semester, the senate will create and approve its final standing committees, and the members of the faculty will be asked to identify which one they would like to serve on.

“At the heart of the constitution is that the Faculty Senate, the dean and the president have to work cooperatively,” Vanden Houten said.

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