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Faculty Senate Approves Paperless Election Process

The Faculty Senate ended the Fall 2009 semester on a "green" note during its final meeting on Dec. 1 in Brockway Hall Jacobus Lounge.

Senators unanimously approved recommending a number of changes to the College Handbook that, collectively, give the senate the option to use electronic software to improve the current, cumbersome process of mailing paper ballots and envelopes to its constituents.

The senate approved the Steering Committee's extensive revised language that introduced the use of an alternative digital voting method.

Parliamentarian Steve Anderson complimented the Committee on Committees for its excellent job of keeping track of details in its review of the Steering Committee's proposal.

Several senators noted the move will save many trees and much money as well as significant time for the faculty senators involved in the current process. Because senators are required to find their own replacements, all senators currently print volumes of paper and stuff and address envelopes.

"It seems we're entering the digital age kicking and sliding," observed Senator David Miller, Geography Department, shortly before the vote. "This is an effort to streamline the election and voting process."

"It's great that the Faculty Senate is moving over to this green process," said Senator Jesse Campanaro, president of the Student Government Association. He noted that SGA has conducted electronic elections for some years and is willing to share its software system.

Faculty Senate Chair Kathleen Lawrence, Communication Studies Department, cautioned that the Senate has a more complex process than the SGA. She noted that Faculty Senate Secretary Teri Vigars, Academic Support and Achievement Program, who could not attend the meeting, is currently researching the most suitable software to preserve the essentials of the voting process, including information security and the ability for faculty to nominate write-in candidates.

The parliamentarian had advised the Steering Committee on how its process of electing officers and members might be redesigned to run more smoothly and efficiently and also helped it fine-tune the language of the draft proposal. Miller wrote the revisions in consultation with Joanne Barry, assistant vice president for human resources.

The recommendations will go to SUNY Cortland President Erik J. Bitterbaum for his approval. If endorsed, the Faculty Senate can begin using the new election process as soon as it has been identified and is operational.

In other business, the senate unanimously approved an additional College Handbook revision to reset the mandatory five-year period for Faculty Senate governance structure review. The next scheduled review will take place in the 2012-13 academic year.

Before the meeting, senators had filled two large bags with their gifts to this year's Toys for Tots drive, being conducted on campus by the SGA. Campanaro thanked the senate for its generosity.