At the TCCTA Conference for Faculty Leaders, on October 8, attendees proved that "Faculty Senate Best Practices" remains an important topic for community college educators. For many years TCCTA has offered sessions on this subject, utilizing a variety of formats. Interest shows no signs of lagging, based on robust attendance and lively participation.
Experience has demonstrated repeatedly that faculty organizations on some campuses work more effectively than others. Instructors find it beneficial to engage in conversation with colleagues from around the state on approaches that appear to be constructive. One senate template doesn't fit all circumstances and personalities, which makes focused collaboration very important.
At the most recent TCCTA gathering in Galveston, attendees submitted written questions to faculty panelists Linda Dulin, McLennan Community College, Mary Osentowski, Richland College, and Jesse Warren, Galveston College. Facilitating and coordinating were David Lydic, Austin Community College, and Essie Childers, Blinn College.
Here is a sample of questions the group discussed:
- What are your school's requirement for faculty office hours?
- Do you represent all faculty (full-time and adjunct)? Is there a separate voice for adjunct?
- How many classes can your adjuncts teach?
- How many colleges have tenure?
- On the case of a college with multi-campuses in which student population varies greatly and so does the number of faculty senate members, how could you avoid bias when it comes to the selection of the agenda or voting for a very important item? Is number always a major factor in voting?
- What is the best way to deal with the media when they call you as the faculty association president on a "hot button" issue?
- How do you create greater faculty involvement?
- Do you meet with your president on a monthly basis?
- Do you receive compensation for being president of the senate?
- Do you have shared governance?
- How is your senate dealing with growth/workload issues?
- Has your college's president or chancellor changed the course load after the annual contract has begun? That is, an immediate change within the current semester. If so, how did the faculty and administration come to some resolution?
- What are some of the frequent issues brought to you, such as pay, workload, etc. What were some of the solutions?
- How should we deal with faculty apathy and reluctance do be a part of the faculty association?
- How do you measure your faculty senate effectiveness?
- Do your administrators recognize your faculty senate as an authority on your campus?
- What recommendations would you give to establish a faculty senate?
- How many, on the average, of your (faculty) recommendations ever become policy at your college?
- Does your faculty senate have a formal, direct relationship with your governing board? How does the relationship work?
The group didn't have the opportunity to consider a number of other questions submitted. Members are urged ot attend the annual convention in San Antonio for another planned session on "Faculty Senate Best Practices."