WMU News

Faculty Senate considers sweeping reforms to group's structure, operations

Sept. 16, 1999

KALAMAZOO -- In a sweeping revision of its structure and operations, the WMU Faculty Senate Sept. 9 considered recommendations to the administration designed to revitalize and strengthen the senate's role in shared governance at the University.

"Nothing in this report is intended to disregard or dishonor current and past contributions of senators and members of existing councils and committees," said Linda M. Delene, marketing, who chaired an ad hoc committee to review senate structure.

"We believe our recommendations reflect the current reality of professional life in this University and encourage the use of scarce faculty resources in areas most appropriate and central to the faculty's knowledge and expertise," she said in the committee's report.

Curriculum review streamlined

In related action, the senate approved equally sweeping changes in the curriculum review process. Most significantly, University-level review will be necessary only when new degrees, majors, curricula and graduate concentrations are proposed.

More routine changes, such as revised majors, minors and courses, will be final with the approval of college curriculum committees and deans. These changes are expected to become effective this fall.

The senate's reorganization, which is expected to be approved at the Oct. 7 meeting, would become effective in May 2000. It calls for the senate to be "a governance body for specific, major policy items with active, senior-level administrative participation and responsiveness at council and senate meetings," Delene said.

The report recommends that policies should be implemented after joint faculty-administrative review so that "actual decision-making may occur within council and committee meetings." At present, the senate approves recommendations and the administration subsequently approves or modifies them.

"The current two-tier system of recommendation and approval lacks responsiveness and timely closure between the senate and the administration," Delene said in the report.

While its recommendations "will reduce significantly the number of faculty involved in routine senate activities," she said later in the report, "we may succeed in focusing our knowledge and expertise on substantive issues primarily in a task-force mode."

Specific recommendations

Specific recommendations include:

"The operating principal for Faculty Senate meetings, its councils and committees will be to expend faculty knowledge, expertise and time only on academic matters germane to the professoriate-and outside the collective bargaining agreement," Delene said in the report.

"Moreover," she continued, "this committee envisions senate councils and meetings culminating with active, definitive policies if our administrative colleagues commit to a dual, dynamic partnership role for policy formulation."

Media contact: Mike Matthews, 616 387-8400, michael.matthews@wmich.edu

Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
616 387-8400