What has the Faculty Senate been doing for 57 years?

November 6, 2013

The Faculty Senate blog shares information and insights to the Faculty of Clemson University. Topics discussed do not necessarily represent the opinion of the Faculty Senate, the Faculty of Clemson, or Clemson University.

In an article in Inside Clemson Now, current Faculty Senate President Kelly Smith asked “What good is a Faculty Senate?” Many faculty fail to see the value of Faculty Senate. The perception is often that faculty senators are argumentative and meddling, but ultimately useless. That perception is mistaken. For over fifty years, the Faculty Senate has worked to make Clemson University a better place for faculty.

While it would be impossible to list every accomplishment of the Faculty Senate (for a fuller list, see the pamphlet on the history of the Faculty Senate, “Over Five Decades of Service”), here are some of the most significant ways the Faculty Senate has improved faculty life at Clemson.

1. The Faculty Senate has played a critical role in developing tenure, promotion, and reappointment processes. Since its establishment in 1956, the Faculty Senate has worked to make tenure, promotion, and reappointment a fair process determined by faculty, not by administrators. The Faculty Senate has also created policies designed to make faculty evaluation accurately reflect the accomplishments of faculty and to remove the risk of arbitrary decisions. Most recently, the Faculty Senate has amended the Faculty Manual to reemphasize that comments from the Student Evaluation of Instructors form are the property of faculty.

2. The Faculty Senate created Clemson’s first academic recruiting scholarship, the R.F. Poole Memorial Scholarship.

3. The Faculty Senate has established a variety of ways to recognize faculty excellence. The Faculty Senate is responsible for the creation of the Alumni Professorships, the Centennial Professorship, and, along with Student Government, the Excellence in Teaching Award.

4. The Faculty Senate passed a strong academic freedom statement and a statement on academic responsibilities and ethics. Both statements were approved by the Education Council and the Board of Trustees.

5. Because of the Faculty Senate, faculty now have representatives to the Board of Trustees and every major university committee. The Faculty Senate ensures that the faculty have a direct line of communication to the Board of Trustees, the President, and the Provost.

6. The Faculty Senate instituted the grievance process, a peer-driven arbitration process mandated by state law. The Faculty Senate also created the position of Faculty Ombudsman.

7. The Faculty Senate has improved the position of lecturers at Clemson. From creating the position of senior lecturer to giving lecturers representatives in the grievance process and the Faculty Senate, the senate has increased the status of lecturers at Clemson. The Faculty Rank Task Force is currently working on ways to continue to make Clemson a better place for lecturers.

8. The Faculty Senate established Intellectual Property and patent policies in the 1991-92 senate session. The Research Committee of the Faculty Senate is now considering ways to bring Intellectual Property policy at Clemson into the 21st century.

9. Recent improvements in salary at Clemson are largely due to the efforts at Clemson. Acting on the recommendations of the Huron Group, the Senate successfully advocated for market-driven salary increase.

10. The Faculty Senate has worked to make the Clemson administration accountable. Most notably, the senate was a key part of the resignation of President Lennon in 1994. On February 24, 1994, “the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate approved a resolution calling for all faculty to vote of Lennon’s leadership. That evening, Lennon received news of the vote at the president’s mansion from Alan Schaffer, president of the senate and professor of history, who felt it was important for him to communicate the news to Lennon personally rather than to have the president read about it in the press. Two days later, Lennon¬† . . . announced that he was resigning” (McKale and Reel, Tradition: A History of the Presidency of Clemson University, p. 280). More recently, in 2008-09, the Senate approved a resolution condemning disproportionate administrative pay raises. The Faculty Senate has encouraged the administration to be accountable to the faculty.

As you can see, the Faculty Senate has done much in 57 years. The senate continues to be an advocate for faculty. The senate is working to ensure that the new e-TPR system follows the policies in the Faculty Manual. The senate has had a representative on the presidential search committee, speaking out to protect the interests of faculty. The Welfare committee is working with Staff Senate, the President’s Commission on the Status of Women, and other interested groups to create parental leave policies, nursing lounges, and a childcare facility for faculty, staff, and children. The Faculty Senate remains the best advocate for faculty and it will continue to support the needs and interests of faculty.

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