Faculty Senate and University Assembly

About the Senate

 

About the Faculty Senate and University Assembly
By Lawrence Barton, Chair Emeritus (2000-01, 2001-02) Senate and University Assembly

The governance structure at UMSL was substantially reorganized during the 1999-2000 academic year and this year the new system is in place. Here is a summary of the changes, etc., and a listing of some of our activities and concerns.

UMSL was founded in 1963 and the University Senate was established in 1968 and was composed of 90 faculty members and 6 administrators. The first major change was to add students and this occurred in 1971. The membership formula did not change for almost 30 years. The formal description was that the Senate was the governing body of the campus with a membership consisting of 75 faculty members, 25 students, the campus's top administrators, and the President of the Staff Association. In 1998-99 there were 75 faculty members, 25 students, all elected at large by the full-time regular faculty and students respectively. There were also 19 ex-officio administrators and the Staff Association President was non-voting. Thus the "voice" of the faculty was substantially diluted. There were committees of the Senate whose membership was faculty only, such as Appointments, Tenure and Promotion and Faculty Grievances, but in essentially all other areas of campus governance, non-faculty Senators had major representation.

In May 1974, the University Faculty of the University of Missouri-St. Louis voted to "establish a Faculty Council as its standing representative body." This Council was "to meet on a regular basis to discuss issues of concern to the faculty, to formulate and promulgate the faculty views on these issues, to serve as a locus of advocacy for these views to the Administration and the public, and to facilitate communication among faculty members, the departments, and the Administration." The Faculty Council was essentially shut out of much of the campus governance and never really established any credibility either with the administration or with many of the faculty members on campus. During the mid-to-late 1990s, times were quite turbulent and the Faculty Council became very active. The group attempted to speak for the Faculty but it clearly did not have the same clout as the Senate. Typically it was quite difficult to encourage colleagues to run for the Faculty Council and thus the membership tended to contain several of the real dissidents on the campus although the leadership was generally quite solid and enjoyed respect.

During the two academic years 1998-1999 and 1999-2000, the leadership of both the Senate and the Faculty Council led efforts to change the administration's priorities and also to remove the chancellor. There was much publicity to some of the activities and many on the campus found this publicity to be deleterious to the institution. Thus in order to provide a single credible voice for the faculty, and perhaps to make a new start in campus governance, in April 1999 the Senate and Faculty Council created a Conference Committee to examine campus governance and, following consultation with other faculty, recommend changes that would improve governance through strengthened faculty participation. The committee issued its report, A New System of Governance for UM-St. Louis in October 1999. The Senate approved the new procedures on December 7, 1999. It was approved by the Faculty on January 26, 2000, and approved by the Board of Curators on March 23, 2000.

The new bylaws define the Faculty, the Student Body, the Faculty Senate and the University Assembly. The definition of a voting faculty member had been changed in May 1999 to include all those with a full-time non-regular academic appointment who have at least 50% teaching or research responsibilities per year and one of the following terms in their title: adjunct professor, visiting professor, clinical professor, research professor (professor to include assistant and associate ranks), lecturer, instructor or specialist. This matter has caused some concern because it is now very difficult to identify, for election purposes, all the members of the Faculty and this matter is to be addressed by the bylaws committee in the near future.

The Faculty Senate now Senate has 40 faculty members, 30 representing departments and 10 elected at large. In addition three administrators, the Chancellor, the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and the Associate Vice Chancellor for Research and Dean of the Graduate School are non-voting members.

The University Assembly now consists of all Senate members (40), 13 students and five administrators including the Chancellor, Vice Chancellors for Academic Affairs, Research and the Graduate School, Student Affairs, and Continuing Education. In addition three other vice chancellors, all the academic deans (currently 8), the Director of the Libraries and the President of the Student Government Association are non-voting members.

The Faculty Senate meets monthly between September and April and the Assembly meets in alternate months during the year. A committee consisting of the Senate Chair, the Senate Secretary, and three Senators, elected at large, serves as the Steering Committee for both the Faculty Senate and the University Assembly. The business is conducted by a number of committees. Some, the Bylaws and Rules and the Steering Committee, are Faculty Senate and University Assembly Committees. Others, Academic Advisory; Appointments, Tenure, and Promotion; Assessment of Educational Outcomes; Committee on Committees; Curriculum and Instruction; Faculty Teaching and Service Awards; Research; and the University Libraries Committee are Faculty Senate Committees. The rest, Administrator Evaluation, Budget and Planning, Computing and Instructional Technology, Physical Facilities and General Services, Recruitment, Admissions, Retention, and Student Financial Aid and the Student Affairs and Student Publications Committee are University Assembly Committees.

Lawrence Barton, February 2001.