Creating an Effective Faculty Senate Leadership Team: A Gendered Perspective

Creating an Effective Faculty Senate Leadership Team: A Gendered Perspective

Lane Boyte Eckis (Troy University, USA), Dionne M. Rosser-Mims (Troy University, USA), Trellys A. Riley (Troy University, USA) and Vijaya L. Gompa (Jacksonville State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3076-3.ch001
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Abstract

The purpose of this chapter is to examine how gender positively influences processes and procedures of faculty-led groups within higher educational institutions. A closer inspection of the gender makeup of these faculty-led groups may shed light on the role gender plays in shaping the policies pursued. There will be a section on the effectiveness of using an online platform in terms of efficiency and communication dynamics. The authors, who served as faculty senate leaders, will use a case study approach, plus their own reflections, to explore ways to improve institutional effectiveness within faculty governance.
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Background

This case study investigates the inter-workings of faculty governance within a public 4-year institution, with approximately 20,000 students and 550 full-time faculty members. The case study focuses on a team of leaders during the 2014-2016 academic years and the level of diversity each team achieved in the Senate leaders’ timeline of successes during this two-year period. The Faculty Senate is a formal body who represents the collective input of the faculty on appropriate matters of the University. The Faculty Senate has a special charge to assist the University in fulfilling its mission and achieving its goals, serve the educational needs of students, enhance faculty morale and professionalism, and maintain effective communication with University administration. Additionally, this group assumes responsibility for the shared governance of the University in accordance with established guidelines or recognized accrediting agencies and learned societies of American higher education.

The Faculty Senate under review in this chapter consists of 26 members, all of whom are either tenured or tenure-track professors representing five main academic colleges: College of Arts and Sciences, College of Communication and Fine Arts, College of Education, College of Health and Human Services, and the Sorrell College of Business. Six (6) Senators are at-large members are designated to guarantee that each branch of the campus within the overall system is represented on the Senate, and one (1) member is designated to represent the University Libraries. Twenty (20) Senate positions represent the faculty by college, with each college within the University represented proportional to the number of full-time faculty employed within the respective colleges. Every five years an accounting of full-time faculty occurs to determine if the allocations for each college should be revised.

The Senate’s executive leadership team is represented by the Chairs of each of the four standing committees (Academic Affairs, Faculty Welfare, Elections, and Technology), along with the Senate Vice-President, Secretary, and Senate President as Chair. The authors of this manuscript served as members of the executive team for two consecutive years. During this time frame, the Senate experienced several “firsts”, breaking the proverbial glass ceiling: first African American female Senate President, predominantly female led executive leadership team (1 male, 5 females), first Asian Indian American female chair of the Welfare Committee, a female Caucasian Vice-President, a female Caucasian chair of the Academic Affairs Committee, and a female Polish-American chair of the Elections Committee. We posit that the successes achieved during this two-year period is due to our innovative use of technology to facilitate communications within the Senate and synergist leadership approach resulting from a predominantly female-led leadership team.

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