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Members elect leaders

Theresa Civantos | Thursday, September 6, 2007

Several elections and a prolonged discussion on a proposed revision of Notre Dame’s Academic Articles highlighted Wednesday’s first meeting of the Faculty Senate this year.

Biology professor Kristin Lewis and physics professor Morten Eskildsen were voted the Senate’s co-secretaries, and professional specialist in the Legal Aid Clinic Judy Fox was voted Academic Affairs Committee Chair.

One faculty senator represents each university department, with Colin Jessop acting as Senate Chair. The only unrepresented departments are Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Theology, which has not had a representative for several years, Jessop said.

Jessop presented a PowerPoint presentation on “Senate 101” for the new senators. “The real power is at the Academic Council, not the Senate,” he explained, “but the Senate has the capacity to lobby on issues that concern the faculty.”

Mark Dehmlow, the vice chair, is scheduled to upgrade the Faculty Senate Web site soon. He is also looking to expand it, possibly with Wikipedia articles or blogs. A quarterly Senate newsletter, set to premiere this fall, is in the works as well.

After a brief report by Benefits Committee Chair Nasir Ghiaseddin on faculty health care issues, the Senate discussed the Academic Articles.

“The Academic Articles are a contract between the faculty and the administration,” Jessop said.

The separateness of the faculty and the administration remained a constant theme throughout the meeting. Fox said she hopes University President Father John Jenkins’ self-appointed advisers on the search and review committee for the Provost would not be “administrative stooges.”

Seth Brown, the chair of administrative affairs, joked that the requirement that the academic provost must appoint an advisory committee from the faculty of the law school or the architecture school before appointing a new dean for the school is “the closest thing we have to actual faculty power.”

Only the first few amendments to the articles were covered in this initial meeting. The amendments are “trying to clear things up” for both the faculty and administration, Fox said.

The meeting opened with camaraderie, as professors exchanged repeated cordial greetings. An opening prayer followed, in which Jessop asked God to “grant us grace and humility in our discussions.”