Possible faculty representation still disputable

By Katrina Kelly

Several faculty members voiced opposition to a proposed NIU faculty senate Tuesday at the first open hearing to discuss the senate’s formation.

Art Professor Richard Beard, reading from a prepared statement to the Faculty Senate Task Force, said a faculty senate “would be too large and too cumbersome for effective faculty representation.”

Beard said he would like to see a smaller, compact, reasonably representative faculty senate, equal to the president of the university, and directly responsible to the Board of Regents.

“I think faculty are very tired of spending so many long hours on committees that never go anywhere,” he said.

Beard suggested a senate comprised of one or two faculty representatives of each college, with possibly more representation from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, due to its size and diversity.

Beard also said NIU faculty “should be far more directly involved in talking to the BOR (Board of Regents).”

Task force chairman William Monat said the University Council, which includes NIU faculty, staff, administration and students, is similar to most other universities’ representative bodies.

Jack Bennett, professor of biology, said a faculty senate “should be able to serve a useful purpose. Faculty has no spokesperson, has no power outside the classroom.”

Bennett, also reading from a written statement, said “the proposal does not offer the faculty any realistically useful power it does not already have.” He added that the NIU administration supports a faculty senate to “occupy the time and efforts of faculty activists” so they can “blow off steam indefinitely.”

Neil Rickert, computer science professor, said NIU “needs an effective faculty forum.” He said he would like to see a much larger faculty body than the current 30-member Faculty Assembly.

Task force member Gordon Dorn said much of NIU’s governmental structure “relates to an institution that NIU is no longer.”

Dorn said the senate proposal “represents a start in creating a situation where faculty on this campus has a sense of itself.”

Bob Suchner, associate professor of sociology, said he is “very much in support of a faculty senate. We need an authoritative and official voice of the faculty.”

Suchner said, however, that the recommendation lacks a clear statement of how the faculty senate is to determine what the opinion of the faculty is so it can act authoritatively as the faculty’s official voice.