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General Faculty Council celebrates with forum

By Lee Graves

The General Faculty Council celebrated its 10th anniversary on April 18 with fresh fruit, chewy cookies and a thoughtful forum for its members.

About 50 of the more than 1,640 general faculty at the University gathered in the Garden Room of Hotel E to enjoy refreshments and acknowledge a decade of work by the council.

Leonard W. Sandridge Jr., executive vice president and chief operating officer, said general faculty are vital to the University.

“This place simply wouldn’t function without the skills, the commitment and the roles that you bring” to the institution, he said.

He and Gene Block, vice president and provost, answered questions and provided background

on roles of general faculty. They were introduced by incoming council Chairwoman Lotta

Lofgren, who also praised Lynda White, outgoing chairwoman, for her dedication to the group.

White explained that the council grew out of a committee within the Women Faculty and Professional Association that monitored development of a compensation plan for general faculty. The effort grew to embrace additional responsibilities, including internal communications and representing the group’s interests to the administration.

Defining and identifying general faculty was an issue then and remains one today. Sandridge said the roles of general faculty have evolved greatly since the mid-1980s and now range from teaching and research to maintaining facilities and managing financial operations.

Sandridge also discussed state budget cuts and recent tuition increases approved by the Board of Visitors. Block talked about diversity initiatives, particularly recruiting and retaining minority faculty, curriculum upgrades and key positions to be filled in his office.

Prue Thorner, assistant to the vice president for research and graduate studies, asked Block’s opinion on the affirmative action case before the U.S. Supreme Court. Block said he’s hoping for a good outcome, one “that will allow us to continue doing what we’re doing,” he said.

Angela M. Davis, associate dean of students, asked what strategies are being developed in hiring and retention of minorities, including the vacancies in Block’s office.

Block said he has worked with Karen Holt, director of Equal Opportunity Programs, on those specific positions, and he described how “envisioning” sessions have addressed the issue in general. Overall, he said, he wants more in-depth training for search committees and to make sure the University is offering the right incentives to attract and keep people.

“It doesn’t help to recruit well if we can’t retain,” he said.


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