All updates were written by Amber Roessner and reflect her perceptions and reflections as current Faculty Senate President. The newest information is at the bottom, so scroll!
What does shared governance mean to me? It’s a question I’ve been reflecting on in depth in the last year … in fact, even longer as someone who researched media campaigns and modern U.S. political history over the last decade. I believe that at the most fundamental level shared governance means that everyone should have a voice at the table. Moreover, in this moment, we know that making certain that everyone is represented at the table on our campus and beyond is critical not only to the health of higher education but also to the health of our democracy. With that in mind, our faculty senate leadership team, as your elected leaders of our representational body of faculty across all units at the University of Tennessee, is committed to just that.
But ensuring that everyone has a voice at the table is more challenging than it sounds, right? So how do we, as faculty senators, ensure that everyone is represented at the table? How do we foster productive shared governance on this campus? We’ve been considering just that over the last few years, in a historic moment when distrust in our culture and on our campus was on the rise and some skeptics suggested that the ideal of shared governance might be dead. With this context in mind, we’ve doubled down on the basics of shared governance–engaging in best-practice communication, rebuilding relationships around campus with students, staff, faculty and administrators, fostering a renewed sense of community and collaborative partnerships. We’ve recently modernized our framework through changes to our bylaws, including modifications to committee structure. This allows us, amid recent transformations on Rocky Top, such as the implementation of the new Budget Allocation model, to engage in better dialogue at our caucus levels and in collaboration with our community partners in shared governance. Moreover, we’re working hard to foster stronger relationships on campus and beyond so that we can advocate for solutions that offer more equitable conditions for our students, staff, and faculty, and an enduring commitment to advancing a more welcoming and inclusive space where ALL Vols matter and belong.
Our Faculty Senate Leadership Team is excited to partner with you to foster productive shared governance on Rocky Top this academic year and to advance our shared goals and priorities. Engaging in shared governance is challenging work, but we are committed to advocating for greater voice and transparency. With that in mind, we will offer regular updates on this page, in our revived semi-annual newsletter and in our regular mini-minutes after each senate meeting.
Did you know that you can give to the Faculty Senate Shared Governance Fund through UT? This is a gift fund used to support activities related to shared governance. Visit http://giving.utk.edu/facultysenate
August Monthly Update
This summer the Board of Trustees approved changes to Chapter 4 of the Faculty Handbook regarding non-tenure track (NTT) policies, spearheaded by the NTT issues and Faculty Affairs committees (under the leadership of Senators Mark Stanley, Anne Langendorfer and Jud Laughter, respectively) in conjunction with Vice Provost Diane Kelly and approved by Faculty Senate in May. The System Office is now in the process of reviewing and approving the final revisions before an updated faculty handbook is published, but units have been notified of the conceptual changes and told by the Provost’s Office that they can commence using these guidelines this academic year.
Child Care Resolution
Based upon a greater recognition of the need for expanded and enhanced childcare options within the Rocky Top community, University leaders, under the direction of University of Tennessee Associate Vice Chancellor for Facility Services Mike Brady and Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources Mary Lucal, are in the process of developing an RFI [request for information] to request proposals from third-party childcare providers and are seeking input and feedback this fall from Faculty Senate’s Finance and Benefits and Shared Governance committees about the needs within our community.
As indicated through the Administrative Report in our last Faculty Senate meeting and in our most recent monthly meeting with the Chancellor and Provost, active discussion with Arizona State University continues about a prospective partnership between the two schools. In addition to the overall agreement under discussion, a next step in the process is the development of a consortium agreement with Arizona State. This consortium agreement will establish rules that will govern cases when UT students enroll in ASU courses and ASU students enroll in UTK courses while also ensuring that faculty governance and integrity of operations at each university are maintained. The OLAP team, as previously noted, has transitioned to the new online unit and will provide additional services to academic units through this effort. The staffing goal for the new online unit is for it to be able to meet all colleges’ needs for online programs, including instructional design, marketing, enrollment, student support, etc.
New Campus Compliance and Investigation Units
As recently announced in Tennessee Today, the University of Tennessee established two new campus units to strengthen and streamline compliance and workplace investigative services effective August 1. “These units will encourage the highest ethical standards of conduct for those representing the university and acting on its behalf. Creating an office focusing on this area will help the campus develop a cohesive compliance and ethics program and strengthen existing compliance practices,” in line with best practices at peer and aspirational universities, indicated a source within the Chancellor’s Office.
September Monthly Update
Graduate Student Stipend Increases
Access Mission and Admission
The UT Board of Trustees voted in favor last Fri., Sept. 8, on an amended guaranteed admission program designed to benefit Tennessee residents applying for first-year admission to any of our UT System institutions, according to a System news release. The full meeting agenda and webcast is available online here.
The amended policy, which guarantees admission to UT Knoxville to any Tennessee high school student finishing in the top 10 percent of their high school class or who achieved a 4.0 or higher GPA, aims “to expand access to the Volunteer experience for Tennessee residents and aligns with UT’s strategic goal to deepen and extend the University’s ability to connect with Tennesseans,”according to the Provost’s Office.
Campus Safety & Security Update
In order to engage in best practices for public safety in higher education, the Division of Finance & Administration announced this week that they will continue their project of enhancing campus security by installing electronic entry, such as card readers, to exterior building doors. Please see additional details here.
THEC Procedural Changes – Academic Action Notifications
The University of Tennessee (UT) System issued a memo Sept. 14, 2023, noting a procedural change regarding the submission of academic action notifications to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) that will become effective on October 1. This change aims to enhance efficiency and speed in the submission process, ensuring that academic program modifications are swiftly reflected in the statewide Academic Program Inventory (API), noted the memo. Historically, academic notifications were submitted via PDF forms, but THEC has now shifted to a web-based submission process. The benefits of this change include streamlined approvals, acknowledging campus-level decision-making autonomy for academic matters, and the elimination of delays and duplicated efforts, according to the system. UT System staff will provide support and assistance during the transition, and they noted that the goal is to improve communication between institutions and THEC, ultimately benefiting the academic excellence within the UT System.
GSS Graduate and Professional Student Town Fall
Focusing on graduate student needs: Monday, September 25th from 5:30-7:00pm in SU 262.