Chair Talk 4.11 Move On
My last month as Chair looms. I have tried in these four years to insert a faculty voice into the doings of the administration. I have eschewed an “us” vs “them” mentality while trying to help “them” understand what most of “us” are going through on a daily basis at the UA. With a few exceptions, this approach has been met with trust and cooperation, and I thank all the senior (and not-so-senior) administrators who chose to treat the Chair of the Faculty as a partner. It isn’t always like that, as I’ve heard from colleagues elsewhere.
Increasing faculty participation in shared governance, as imperfect a process as it may be, has been a major goal, not just for me but also for Vice Chair Michael Brewer and Secretaries Bobbi McKean and now Amy Fountain. They all have put, and will continue to put, enormous time and energy into their faculty governance roles. While there is evidence of increased participation, too much of the burden of shared governance still falls on a small number of people – who of course have day jobs too. Incoming Chair Jessica Summers, along with Michael and Amy, need your help.
As Chair I tried to focus attention on important issues - academic freedom, the critical importance of diversity and, beyond that, meaningful inclusion, the status of career track faculty, the pursuit of quality in both teaching and scholarship, and most recently, pay equity. Some progress has been made, much more is needed.
The job of Chair of the Faculty is an odd one, with very little power beyond one’s voice. Yet the Chair stands for something, something precious to the essence of a university. While trying one’s best to represent one’s colleagues in matters pertaining to the daily life of a faculty member, the Chair also is in a position to speak to and help shape the aspirations we collectively share as the faculty of the University of Arizona. I hope I have by and large used this position to positive effect. It’s now my time to exit stage left.
Chairs come and go, but Faculty Center staff remain. Jane Cherry and Yadira Caballero will continue to do much of the heavy lifting on a day to day basis, so it is fitting that this final Chair Talk expresses my gratitude to them for their constant support.
Commencement is upon us. This is one of the things we work for every day. My last official act as Chair of the Faculty will be to carry the mace at the ceremony on May 11. Faculty should turn out to celebrate their students’ success. Hope to see lots of you there.