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Faculty Senate

Faculty Senate » Elections

Candidate Biography

ROBERT BURTON, (at OSU since 1977), Professor and Associate Chair, Mathematics Department, College of Science.

FACULTY SENATE: Executive Committee, 1999-present; Science Senator, 1998–present & 1994-95; Committee on Committees, 1999-present; Difference, Power, and Discrimination Task Force, 1999-present; Curriculum Council, 1995-99 (Chair, 1996-99); Statewide Degree Program Council, 1998-99; and Ad Hoc Committee on Off-Site Degree Programs, 1998 (Co-Chair).

COLLEGE OF SCIENCE: Curriculum Committee (Chair) 1997-present.

Candidate Statement: Serving on the Executive Committee and the Curriculum Council has reinforced my belief in a faculty governance that is strong, responsive, and open. These are times that require strong faculty representation and a powerful voice for academics and student learning. We have a need for unity among faculty across the colleges and units, all of which are under stress. We have a need for all faculty, including professional faculty, to defend and speak up for the core functions of the university: teaching, scholarship, and service. I will ensure Faculty Senate access and representation for all faculty. I will present our issues, our goals, and our grievances to the best of my ability.

Responses to Questions Posed by the Executive Committee

1. What will be the critical issue for faculty over the next two years and how can you help move that issue forward on their behalf?

There are many issues one could see as very critical for faculty. A few examples follow.

  • We are attempting to excel in our teaching, scholarship, and service, but see declining institutional support for these activities. Class sizes are increasing. Many of our faculty have no professional development support. Labs and classrooms are increasing in disrepair. Some labs lack adequate microscopes.

  • There is discussion that we are doing too much as a university and must eliminate some activities. Will this be accomplished by attrition, by program elimination, or in some other way? Any such change will significantly affect us. This has the potential to do enormous harm to morale and working conditions of students and faculty (both professional and professorial).

  • Funding priorities are presently made in the absence of a strategic plan and appear mysterious. Faculty salaries are very low in comparison with comparable universities. Will parity ever be achieved or even seriously attempted?

  • Many others could be listed.
In light of all of these issues, the most critical issue facing the faculty is the need to have effective representation and a voice in the conversations that lead to changes in the way the university operates. We need to be a major part of the decision making process and to ensure that all of the faculty are informed and able to have input before decisions are made and implemented.

2. How can the discussions at Faculty Senate meetings be improved? (e.g. Sense of the Senate debates; Electronic referenda, or polling; other strategies?)

Discussion and consideration in a large meeting is necessarily limited and does not give time for reflection. There are critical issues where debate at one meeting and a vote at the next would be beneficial. In the interim, Senators could consider the discussion and consult with their colleagues.

Much of the business of the Faculty Senate takes place in committee meetings and in task forces. These should be made more accessible to the faculty while they are taking place. At present, the minutes of the Curriculum Council, the Bac Core Committee, and the Graduate Council are posted on the web. This is a start in the right direction. This should spread to include all Faculty Senate committees. Ideally, the agendas would also be made available in advance of meetings. This would allow faculty members to communicate with the committee and present their views.

Task forces (such as the DPD Task Force or the Athletic Task Force) have a focused mission. As a task force prepares a report, drafts of the report should be made available for as broad an audience as possible. This will allow questions to be answered before the reports are presented to the Faculty Senate and will make the final report more compelling.

The Executive Committee has been looking into web-voting to take more Sense-of-the-Senate polls. They should continue to pursue this. Larry Daley's idea to have an electronic method that will allow each Senator to communicate with all interested Senators is intriguing and should be tried. We should always to try to increase communication and understanding.