Passing the baton: Faculty and Staff Senate change leadership

April 10, 2017

Brynn Streppa, Class of 2017

It’s been a great year for Staff Senate president Deveraux Williams and Faculty Senate president Mary Beth Kurz. While both have made great accomplishments during their terms, they were ready to pass the baton to new leadership and they did just that during separate ceremonies yesterday.

Pic of Leigh Dodson and Deveraux WilliamsStaff Senate

During his time in leadership, Williams has made a lot of gains. “I am most proud of the strides we have made in tuition assistance for staff during my term.”

Williams explained that in the past, faculty and staff members were able to take six hours of classes, but according to him, few people could actually participate in the more popular programs because of the length of the waiting list. In response, he and the Staff Senate worked in collaboration with the Office of Human Resources to enhance the employee benefit, which funds classes for employees for up to six hours. The waiting list has been removed, which allows more staff and faculty members to participate in a given program.

Williams knows there is still plenty of work to be done in the coming years, including the university’s goal toward an inclusive campus. He looks forward to the new president, Leigh Dodson, taking the lead on those initiatives.

“If I could give one piece of advice to Leigh,” said Williams, “It would be to embrace the moment and embrace the opportunity, because this is a really nice position to have for a year. You have the power to make a difference for the staff, so take advantage of that.”

Dodson is all about embracing the moment. In addition to supporting campus inclusiveness initiatives, the new Staff Senate president intends to focus on staff benefits and employee recognition initiatives. Learn more about Dodson here.

Gavel_FacultySenateFaculty Senate

During her term, outgoing Faculty Senate president Mary Beth Kurz had an overarching goal to increase transparency among the administration and the faculty.

“One big change that is happening right now is the creation of the Committee on Committees to facilitate transparency and agility in faculty participation in university governance,” she said.

Kurz said that by the end of the summer, there will be a shared governance website, which will give faculty a way to understand how they can participate in various committees. This, she explained, will help increase accountability through transparency. Throughout her term, Kurz is most proud of the revision to the faculty manual that created the Committee on Committees to allow for such transparency.

The outgoing president had some advice for incoming Faculty Senate president, Amy Lawton-Rauh.

“Always remember that you’re speaking on behalf of all of the faculty, not just yourself,” said Kurz. “Also remember that almost nothing requires immediate response. One thing I learned through my term is that change takes a lot longer than you expect it to in academia, so be patient and don’t be surprised if you don’t see immediate results. Don’t give up and be persistent.”

As the new Faculty Senate head, Lawton-Rauh will continue to build on the work that Kurz has accomplished. The new Faculty Senate president said that essential components of shared governance include communication and empowerment across all faculty and units, on and off campus, and she intends to create opportunities for both to support shared governance.

“Shared governance is the hallmark of a confident, nimble, forward-thinking and reflective institution,” said Lawton-Rauh. “Faculty senate must represent, serve and empower thoughtful conversations and actions connecting shared problem solving strategies to address local challenges that often reflect global issues and events. Our role includes protecting the fundamentals of these visions and this is why open, transparent communication is essential.”

While Kurz and Williams have stepped down from their roles, they will remain active on their senates as past Faculty Senate President and past Staff Senate President. Both positions have one-year terms.




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