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Faculty Senate Revises Committee on Teaching Effectiveness

Faculty Senate Revises Committee on Teaching Effectiveness

The Faculty Senate approved several changes in the 2009-10 College Handbook to the Committee on Teaching Effectiveness. The amendments aim to make future committees smaller and more active.

Adopted unanimously after much discussion at the Oct. 19 meeting in Brockway Hall Jacobus Lounge, the amendments are to portions of Chapter 105.03 “SUNY Cortland Faculty Bylaws, Article VII: Committees.” The changes, which reduced the committee from nine to seven members, must be endorsed by a college-wide referendum before they can become effective.

As background, Faculty Senate Treasurer Kathleen Lawrence, Communication Studies Department, observed that during the last academic year when she was Senate chair, the nine-member committee struggled to bring a quorum together for meetings.

The committee was established in 1982 but with little documentation about the reason for its makeup. Some of its representatives come from five broad disciplinary groups rather than the three schools that have existed only since 2003.

After much discussion, senators approved consolidating three of the committees into one named “School of Arts and Sciences.” This replaces members representing mathematics/science, social/behavioral sciences, and fine arts/humanities. Faculty approved retaining one representative from the School of Education, one from the School of Professional Studies, one from the library and two at-large faculty members.

Senator David Berger, Psychology Department, argued against the changes, stating that representation should reflect the actual number of faculty at Cortland. He later conceded that faculty from larger academic areas could seek to represent their constituents as at-large members.

Senator William Buxton, Foundations and Social Advocacy Department, stated his disapproval of the original amendment wording, which included “School of” in connection with the academic areas: e.g., School of Arts and Sciences, School of Professional Studies, and School of Education.

This varies from the descriptions about other committees, Senator Buxton stated.

“There are faculty in education across all three schools,” he said. “This is not trusting in the good will of faculty.”

Nevertheless, the Senate did not move to change the wording.

Senator Ellen McCabe made a separate motion to add language referring to the “one member representing the library” to include the phrase “one member representing library teaching faculty.” She argued that, as stated, any library staff member, including non-academics, could serve inappropriately on this committee.

Other senators noted that this is a non-issue as Human Resources would not accept non-academic nominees for this particular committee. A motion for this change was seconded but in a show of hands the amendment did not pass.

Separately, the senate approved another amendment addressing student representation on this committee. Members noted that language about the committee called for three-year terms of office, something many potential student representatives with the stipulated junior standing and at least one year of full-time attendance at SUNY Cortland cannot fulfill. The line stating that “Terms of office shall be three years and shall be staggered” was reworded to add at the end, “except for students shall be one year.”