May 1, 2008 — The University of Virginia's Faculty Senate approved a defined process for approving new degree-granting schools at its final meeting of the academic year, held Wednesday in Newcomb Hall.
The Senate is asked to review and advise on all new degree programs by the originating department, and on all new schools by the administration or a committee. But when it was presented with the Batten School of Public Policy & Leadership, the senators found there were no set procedures to guide them.
The proposed review process, developed by the Senate's Academic Affairs Committee and presented to the Senate by committee chairwoman Ann B. Hamric, an associate professor of nursing, calls for an open and transparent process that involves the Senate from the conceptual stage.
"We want to open the discussion as things are being decided," Hamric said. "We want to bring in more ideas."
Once a complete proposal has been formed, it will be presented first to the Academic Affairs Committee and then to the full Senate for review.
According to the plan, a new school needs a clearly articulated mission and goals, a demonstrated need, academic programs that reflect its mission, a defined faculty, a plan for student recruitment, adequate resources, an implementation plan and an evaluation process.
After little discussion, the senators approved the proposal with a unanimous show of hands.
In other business, the Senate gave its blessing to changes in the grievance procedure presented by Herbert "Chip" Tucker, the John C. Coleman Professor of English and chairman of the grievance committee. He said the committee made very few changes, mostly "recasting and clarifying" and removing inconsistencies. The committee has de-emphasized the hearing panel, leaving it as an option, Tucker said, and included in the procedures a list of disputes the committee will not address.
University President John T. Casteen III reported to the Senate about a construction bond measure approved by the Virginia General Assembly. He said the bond proposal included construction and planning money for several projects at U.Va.
Arthur Garson Jr., the executive vice president and provost, said he would announce in the near future new deans for the School of Nursing and the School of Medicine. He also hoped to announce soon a new vice provost of international studies and a vice president of research and graduate studies. By the end of summer, he said there would be a dean for the new Batten School of Public Policy & Leadership.
Garson praised some of the recent appointments, including that of Meredith Jung-En Woo as dean of the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, and Paul G. Mahoney, dean of the School of Law. "These are phenomenal people," he said. "We are looking for people who will excite faculty and students and donors."
In his remarks, Ricardo Padron, an associate professor in the Department of Spanish, Italian and Portuguese who was presiding over his final meeting as Senate chairman, asked senators from the various schools to meet with their deans about the results of a faculty survey taken last year.
Jennifer A. Harvey, a radiology professor and chairwoman of the Senate's Recruitment, Retention and Welfare Committee, had reported the survey results to the Senate at a previous meeting. The survey catalogued the opinions of 2,086 faculty respondents on a wide array of subjects, from collegiality to parking. Transparent administrative polices topped the faculty's list of priorities, and the committee's report recommended more faculty involvement in administrative decision-making, faculty review of financial plans and clearly written policies on leave, salary and sabbatical. Faculty opinion also favored more support for graduate students.
Padron said the survey had been shared with the administration and he wants senators to discuss the survey with deans and department chairs, sending brief reports of their meetings to Harvey. Padron suggested the Senate use the survey results in shaping its core priorities.
Edmund W. Kitch, a law professor, accepted the gavel as the incoming chairman. Kitch, who had been a senator for two terms in the 1980s, said he enjoyed the Senate because "it is a delight to work with people from other fields."
He gave a brief history of the Senate and how it evolved from large meetings of the general faculty to a more representative group.
"The Senate's authority is derived from the faculty as a whole," Kitch said. "The impact of the Senate is derived from the quality of its work."
He exhorted senators to gather as citizens of the University, not as partisans of a point of view or a department.
In his closing remarks, Padron thanked the senators and committee chairs for the work they had done during the previous year. He said he was continually amazed at how many people would say "yes" when he sought to get them involved in projects. He praised the University community for its "intelligence, commitment and dedication."
Senators were presented with a slate of six candidates for three openings on the executive committee and with the nomination of Hamric to the post of chairwoman-elect. The senators will have an opportunity to vote later.
For more information, visit the Senate Web site at www.virginia.edu/facultysenate/index.html.