Message from the President of the Faculty Senate
The University of Texas at Tyler
On behalf of the Faculty Senate of The University of Texas at Tyler, welcome and best wishes for a new academic year. It is an honor and a privilege to serve as the Faculty Senate President and the faculty’s representative on matters of university-wide concern.
In this note, I provide a brief update Re: Changes to the Faculty Senate, share highlights of Faculty Senate aspirations for the next one year, and invite you to engage in Faculty Senate activities.
Faculty Senate Updates
- New and Outgoing Senators. We welcome the 2018/19 Senate Executive Committee members including Dr. Kouider Mokhtari, Past President, College of Education and Psychology, Dr. Sarah Sass, Secretary, College of Education and Psychology; Dr. Gus Gordon, Treasurer, Soules’ College of Business; Dr. Colin Snider, President- Elect , College of Arts & Sciences and Dr. Mary Fischer, Parliamentarian, Soules’ College of Business. We also extend our special thanks and sincere appreciation to exiting members, Drs. Lance William and Cathy Ross. These two have served our Senate, UTTYLER and UT System FAC with exceptional diligence. We applaud them and wish them well in their professional endeavors. Information on the Senate and its membership can be accessed at https://www.uttyler.edu/faculty-senate/
- Office of the Faculty Senate. The Faculty Senate shares office space and administrative support with the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, located in the Library Room 127. You can reach Senators via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions, concerns, or wish to learn more about or contribute to Senate activities.
- Faculty Senate Meetings. Faculty Senate meetings take place at a very convenient time—every third Thursday of the month from 12:30 to 1:45 in BRB 1055. We provide a light meal courtesy of President Michael Tidwell. Please come and encourage colleagues to join us as well. Our participation is vital in shaping the direction of our University. As I have pointed out before, we seek to be a faculty senate of ‘influence’ and not just a ‘ceremonial’ one.
Faculty Senate Aspirations
As the primary governance body representing faculty, the overall mission of the Faculty Senate of U.T. Tyler is to provide “a systematic means for effective participation of the faculty in the affairs of the university by developing channels of communication for the faculty to make recommendations to the President of the University and for the administration of U.T. Tyler to seek the judgment and counsel of the faculty about matters of mutual concern.” HOP 3.6.0
At this point in time in the history of UT Tyler, we are faced with unique challenges and opportunities. Our newly admitted students are increasingly diverse and some of them are unprepared to do rigorous college-level work. Our classrooms are designed for the 20th century education while information communication technologies continue to evolve at a very rapid pace. Our faculty are less engaged as per the 2016 Gallup Employee Engagement Survey, which indicates that 66% of our faculty and staff reported being either ‘Not Engaged’ or ‘Actively Disengaged.” These are the challenges. It is our firm belief that an engaged faculty facilitate and engage students more, so we shall strive to reverse this trend.
At the same time, we have new opportunities that were unimaginable in the recent past with respect to new insights of what works to effectively reach and teach a new generation of students. At the University of Texas at Tyler, we are witnessing new and exciting times with president Tidwell and a forward-thinking strategic plan. Over the past year, we have witnessed a new level of transparency, inclusion, and commitment to shared governance on the part of the University administration and the University of Texas System. As a faculty Senate, we are committed to the University of Texas System’s call to all our universities to shared governance, particularly with regard to decision making geared towards strengthening education for all students.
In light of these challenges and opportunities, the Faculty Senate will focus on the following three core priorities during the current academic year.
- Execute the shared governance mandate by maximizing faculty engagement. To participate effectively in shared governance, the Senate and the faculty as a whole must be actively engaged, sufficiently informed, and deliberative in their actions. We are fortunate to have so many fine faculty members who are willing to devote their time and talents to participate in the governance of the University. There are many opportunities for faculty to become involved with Senate through Faculty and University-wide Committees and Task Forces. When you are called upon to serve on any committee or task force, kindly do so diligently knowing that you are representing us all.
- Collaborate with the President, Vice-Presidents, and other administrators on policy issues and related matters affecting the university. Faculty Senate is committed to a shared university-wide goal focused on enhancing the quality of teaching and learning for all students to improve retention, graduation and career-placement. To accomplish this goal, the Senate recommends using a coordinated mix of activities, which will involve team-work and collaboration, institution-wide engagement, and shared responsibility for student success. This focus is consistent with the new university-wide vision of becoming the “primary educational and economic driver of East Texas.” Faculty Senate is eager and prepared to work with various stakeholders to help facilitate appropriate avenues aimed at initiating discussions among faculty, staff, and students about strengthening teaching and learning for all students. Key tasks this year would be to undertake a Campus Culture survey; to finalize the Work load policies that reflect the diverse programs and services rendered in our University, acknowledge innovations emanating from faculty and to prioritize faculty development so as to serve effectively.
- Recognize and reward faculty achievements in research, teaching, and service. We are fortunate to have so many fine faculty members who are doing excellent research, teaching, and service work. The work of these faculty members deserves recognition and reward. In this regard, faculty will be invited to participate in nominating, recommending and vetting of applicants for various awards. We invite your active participation in this process.
Faculty Senate Invitation
Faculty Senate invites all faculty members to become more actively engaged in contributing to the health and well-being of our university. An engaged university enriches the student experience and helps change the campus culture in positive ways. Please contact me or your respective senators to learn more about the work of the Senate or bring innovative ideas and/or matters of concern to our attention. Faculty Senate stands ready to give you a strong and effective voice in our processes of shared governance. There is an African Proverb that states thus:
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”.
So together, we can go far in transforming the quality of our programs, operations, teaching, graduates and enhancing the reputation of our Institution.
Looking forward to seeing many of you at our upcoming Faculty Senate meetings, which convene at 12:30 p.m. on the 3rd Thursday of every month, starting from September 20, 2018 except for the months of December and August.
Wycliffe W. Njororai Simiyu
President, Faculty Senate