Senate communications

May 29, 2018

Report of the Faculty Senate chair

Thaïsa Way, Professor, College of Built Environments

This has been an intense academic year as many activities draw to a close with the end of the spring quarter or being prepared for a next phase in the fall. Noting this season of change, I would like to take a moment to recognize the leadership of Provost Baldasty, for his partnership with faculty leadership and his trust in shared governance has made us a stronger university. We have partnered with him to review the university’s fiscal health and the role of ABB and supplements, to foster partnerships between deans and their Elected Faculty Councils, to explore new ways to support incoming departmental chairs, and the potential of a more connected U across all three campuses. Moving forward he has been a partner in our UW Faculty 2050 project, in the curation of discussions around holistic admissions and enrollment management, and in re-evaluating intellectual property. He has been a partner with Deans and faculty leadership on the Othello-UW Commons in South Seattle. It was a delight to meet our latest cohort of Husky 100 students, an idea that started with Provost Baldasty. We will miss his wisdom and humor- thank you, Jerry.

We are also excited to welcome incoming Provost Mark Richards. We will present him with our UW Faculty 2050 report reflecting the aspirations of many of our faculty as gathered in focus groups and our recent faculty survey. However, most important is that we will welcome him into an institution that stewards strong shared governance with faculty and leadership contributing to the greater whole. I can’t think of a more important time than right now to be strong as a faculty and as a university serving the public.

Strengthening Shared Governance:  Our work in shared governance reveals a number of threads including a focus on student and pedagogical challenges. This is reflected in the work to establish a policy for students who need accommodations related to class attendance for religious reasons, the challenges of open source / online textbooks, and holistic admissions and direct enrollment proposals. The Undergraduate Enrollment Management task group, under leadership of Patricia Kramer, has streamlined the 1503 process and eased the way for transfer students.

A significant partnership of faculty, staff, and leadership has focused on Open Access policy and practices. The Open Access legislation on our upcoming agenda is the culmination of three plus years of work on the part of members of the Faculty Council on Research, the Council on University Libraries, and the Faculty Senate leadership as well as our librarians. While I hope this important legislation passes, the next challenge will be the details of implementation including the cost of the software and staffing the project. This is a significant undertaking, but one that we as a public university should be tackling head on, in my opinion.

As noted in the fall, we are currently engaged in the process of a faculty governance review of our disciplinary and dispute resolution system as outlined by the faculty code. We have established a framework of guiding principles and values to inform the review process of the current system, which is the accreted product of 30 years of incremental changes. Our intent is to develop a system that facilitates access while assuring greater fairness, accuracy, and efficiency. Our goal is to have a draft ready for review in the fall in partnership with the FCFA and other appropriate councils.

Our “code cops” have reviewed the bylaws of our elected faculty councils and have referred recommendations to the Faculty Council on Faculty Affairs. The council will consider ways to strengthen the role and contributions of these participants in shared governance.

Diversity and Equity:  While we have accomplished much in our efforts to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive community, there remains significant challenges and work ahead. The challenges of diversity and equity are evident in efforts to establish equitable benefits for adoptive parents, wellness rooms for nursing mothers and those needed a private space for medical purposes, and to increase the value of diversity scholarship. Addressing the need to recognize the contributions of diversity scholarship, the Faculty Council on Multicultural Affairs has proposed legislation to alter our code so that scholarship and teaching on diversity “shall” be considered by promotion committees when requested and submitted by the faculty member. This does not require that we engage in diversity scholarship, teaching, or service, but requires that when we do we have the right to expect it to be acknowledged and considered in a review of our work as faculty. With Workday established the UW is collecting better data so that we can accurately and productively assess our efforts to build a diverse and inclusive community.

Our Faculty Council on Women in Academia will be active participants in discussions on the prevention and reporting of sexual and racial harassment in our communities. President Cauce recently shared the launch of new training videos. The next questions are how to assure that every faculty member engages in this training and in turn, that we report when we suspect someone is being harassed. This will assure equitable access to resources for every individual in our community. This work will extend into the fall – stay tuned.

Fiscal stability and faculty compensation:  We continue as faculty leadership to be concerned with the fiscal health of the university as well as with the need to address faculty compensation across schools, colleges, and campuses. The Senate Committee on Planning and Budgeting has been working hard with the Provost to review unit budget plans and while some units appear to be doing well, and others are recovering appropriately, there remain those who are struggling. Recently I listened to a group advocate for “free” u-passes for all UW employees without acknowledging that the cost for this would be $13.4 million, equivalent to approximately a 3+% salary increase for faculty. Is that the right set of priorities? These are informed discusses we need to have. Developing priorities and strategies is increasingly essential and we will be looking to Elected Faculty Councils and frankly each of you to continue to partner with leaders in this challenging work.

Lecturers:  The Faculty Council on Faculty Affairs has submitted two pieces of legislation this year: for voting rights and for clarifying promotion criteria. A task force is compiling a handbook for lecturers to assure that everyone has access to the information needed, and to correct the misperceptions that remain. It is currently being reviewed and readied for further review by the FCFA.

Community partnerships:  Finally, JoAnn Taricani, our Faculty Legislative Liaison, and I have sought to strengthen the faculty voice with our state legislators. Over a number of months, I have met with those legislators representing UW and my district (I live in the UW district) including Representative Nicole Macri, Speaker Frank Chopp, and Senator Jamie Pedersen to understand their perceptions of the University and our potential to be stronger partners. In turn, as JoAnn does on a regular basis, I have advocated for our faculty and our university. Our leaders have tough choices before them and it is important that we are viewed as active partners.