By AMARIS ENCINAS
Before the Faculty Senate was the “Faculty Senate,” it was also known as “The Faculty Council” or “The Council” for short. The Senate has been around for a little more than 41 years and continues to be an important
aspect of the college process.
The Faculty Senate meets from 1 to 3 p.m. the first Friday of every month during the academic school year at the Downtown Campus in the Amethyst Room. All of the Faculty Senate meetings are divided into three parts: the Report Session, Business Session and the Open Forum. Participation is limiting in the Reporting Session and the Business Sessions to elected members and invited guests.
The Open Forum is open to any Senator or faculty members to bring to the Senate informational items, issues of college concern and questions for clarification. A formal decision requires a majority vote from all the members in attendance.
An Executive Session can be held directly after the adjournment of the Faculty Senate meeting by request or at a time and place of the Senate’s choosing, the participation in this meeting is limited to senators. The Senate may formally identify certain agenda items as “significant issues” that provide a college-wide impact or affects a majority of faculty or its presentation at a meeting could potentially be divisive or highly controversial.
The “significant issues” will be addressed in a ad hoc meeting in which at least one Senate member is present and will go through the following process: conducting research on the past history of the issue at PCC; by conducting research on how the issue has surfaced and been handled elsewhere; holding public hearings outside Faculty Senate meetings to collect data on the issue; working with institutional research to conduct surveys or questionnaires which might be required; by writing up the results of the activities; by formulating a draft motion based on the results; and by submitting the report and draft motion to the Senate before a decision is made.
This is followed by two formal discussions after all of the steps outlined are complete in order to make a decision followed by a majority vote. The purpose of the Faculty Senate is to be “the representative body of all faculty (full-time and adjunct) that participates in the governance process of Pima Community College and through its President or authorized representatives, will make appropriate recommendations to the Board of Governors, the chancellor, the presidents and other administrators of the college while also operating under the policies and procedures of the college,” according to the Faculty Senate Charter.
The responsibilities of the Faculty Senate include: promoting the gathering; exchanging and the dissemination of faculty views and concerns; promote mutual accountability and report between the faculty and faculty representatives; participate in college governance by advising the Board of Governors, the chancellor, and other administrators regarding all Board Policies and those Regulations and Standard Practice Guides that pertain to faculty, students and academics. Lastly, it promotes the involvement of all faculty members in the establishing, staffing and functioning of committees, task forces or other initiatives.
In order to fully represent all academic departments, full-time faculty will be elected through a secret ballot. If there is not a full-time faculty member nominated, then an adjunct faculty member may be nominated.In addition to that, three full-time faculty members will be elected to represent the district librarians, counselors and staff instructors of the Adult Basic Education program. One full-time faculty member will be elected from each of the campuses at the college in an election coordinated by the Senate vice president, which will help cover representation at each of the campuses.
Elections for representatives at the Community, West and Northwest campuses will take place in even-numbered years. The elections at Downtown, Desert Vista and East campuses along with the representatives for district librarians, counselors and staff instructors will take place in odd-numbered years.
Each senator is allotted a two-year term with no restrictions on the number of terms. Additionally, any full-time faculty member who is a Senate officer will automatically be guaranteed an extension for another year, two additional years if it is the president-elect or the Board of Governors’ representative. This allows for any senator, regardless of the expiration of their term, to run for any position of the Faculty Senate officer positions.
The regular term election cycle begins in October for full-time and adjunct faculty members with the rule that the newly elected officers will take office in January of the following year. As far as Senate officers elections and terms, they will be elected at the September’s Faculty Meeting and their terms will begin in January of the following year. All officers will serve one year except for the BOG representative and the Adjunct Faculty Committee Chair, who serves a two-year term.
If a senator neither attends nor assigns a proxy for three consecutive Senate meetings, the seat will be vacated and the Senate vice president will hold a special election within that department. The Faculty Senate has five officers that are appointed to conduct college-wide matters: the president, president-elect, vice president, BOG representative and the adjunct faculty committee chair. Their responsibilities include: developing a strategic plan for Faculty Senate; overseeing initiatives and activities of the Senate; and communicating with the Executive Leadership Team on behalf of Faculty regarding academic matters and college governance.
Josie Milliken, vice president of the Faculty Senate and part of the Instructional Faculty of Reading and Writing at Downtown Campus has been part of the Faculty Senate since 2009 and will become the acting president starting in January 2019.
“Our primary goal across Pima is to enhance, facilitate and support student success,” Milliken said. “Since faculty has a direct line of contact with students and informing all students with multiple perspectives, whether that be assessment, credit hours or curriculum allows for students to engage in the experience Pima has to offer.”
The role of the vice president in the larger picture is to provide a clear channel in which good communication can flow between administration and the faculty, when it comes to budget, enrollment and policy. The vice president also is responsible when it comes to membership in terms of attendance, support and the overall election process.
The best part of the job for Milliken is being able to have a sense of the larger context in which Pima operates and having the opportunity to share with faculty of the factors that may impact the college, while simultaneously disseminating key information to constituents. Additional officers of the Faculty Senate include the secretary, sergeant of arms, logistics officer and past president.
There are five committees that operate within the Faculty Senate: Faculty Senate Adjunct Faculty Committee; Faculty Senate Professional Develop Committee; Faculty Senate Accreditation Committee; Faculty Senate Assessment Committee; and Faculty Senate Strategic Planning and Budgeting Committee.
The Faculty Senate Adjunct Faculty Committee maneuvers through issues and topics that pertain to the adjunct faculty at the College.
The Faculty Senate Professional Development Committee works with managing and supporting college-wide initiatives and events that promotes professional development of Pima faculty while drafting proposals for new professional development opportunities and recommendations on existing professional development programs.
Next, the Faculty Senate Accreditation Committee keeps the Senate informed on current guidelines and recommendations from the accrediting bodies of higher education.The Faculty Senate Assessment Committee takes the lead on college-wide assessment and uses research as a tool in guiding best assessment practices on and the implementation of these practices.
Lastly, the Faculty Senate Strategic Planning and Budget Committee helps aid in the design of the College when propositions are being considered by the College that would impact academics.Tal Sutton, president of the Faculty Senate, has been interim part of the Senate for the last four years and serves as an advocate for faculty and in the transmission of communication between all the parties that are affiliated in the Senate. She is the delegate decision-making that takes place at the Faculty Senate meetings.
Sutton believes that the Faculty Senate “provides a nice nexus where administration can bring the compliance aspect while faculty provides the knowledge specialty on the students they serve since they have the most facetime with students. It is about increasing student success while increasing academic vigor in both career and grades.”
While Sutton admits that it is not a perfect process, he acknowledges that the All College Counsel, Representatives of the Staff Council, the Student Government and Faculty Senate’s Administration works in collaboration with informing the Faculty Senate on the needs of the college and its students. This is in order to provide a better platform in which issues that are of great importance, to its constituents, can be addressed.
In terms of records, all agendas and minutes for the Faculty Senate meetings can be found on the Pima website and can be accessed all the way back to the Fall 2007 and are updated by the Senate secretary as needed.