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Senate transition year ends

Published: Thursday, April 30, 2009

Updated: Thursday, April 30, 2009 12:04

Faculty Senate President Jamie Barlowe, professor and chairwoman of women's and gender studies, gave her last report to the senate on Tuesday.

She said some of her greatest goals as Faculty Senate president were opening communication with the administration and Board of Trustees and bringing the two campuses together.

"We have merged structurally but not culturally," she said. "UT's Main Campus has a very different culture than the Health Science Campus, which has to deal with academic goals, and the way [both campuses] deal with students and administration," she said.

John Barrett, president of Faculty Senate for next academic year and an associate professor of law instruction at UT, said he plans to continue the efforts to merge the two campuses.

"I would like students to see us as one UT," he said.

Barrett said he also plans to continue working toward ensuring faculty voices are heard and said his job as a lawyer gives him the experience to do it.

"I bring in a lot of expertise and more knowledge than trustees may have," he said.

Barrett said one of the challenges he expects to face in trying to further unite the two colleges is funding.

"I'm going to have to figure out how do we, when we don't have money for social events that people will want to go to, have events to bring both of the colleges together," he said.

Barlowe has been involved in decision-making processes at UT while she was Faculty Senate president, including the recent budget process.

"On Friday, John Barrett and I, along with Krystal Weaver, the new president of Student Government, met with Dr. Jacobs, [Main Campus Provost Rosemary] Haggett, [Health Science Campus Provost Jeff] Gold and [Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration Scott] Scarborough to discuss the budget process and the values driving the budget decisions," she said. "As faculty and student representatives, we were, in fact, the first of the university constituencies invited to engage in discussion, to ask questions and to put input into the final stages of the budget development process."

This has been a historical year for Faculty Senate, Barlowe said.

"In addition to our usual rigorous procedures of reviewing curricular and programmatic revisions and changes, we have helped reestablish and repopulate university committees, celebrated faculty accomplishments, encouraged participation and leadership and provided speakers and forums for discussions of internal and external issues that impact faculty life," she said.

This year, Faculty Senate increased communication between the Senate and the BOT, including membership on the Academic and Student Affairs Committee.

"The more we work together, whether it's between the Board of Trustees and administrators or administrators and faculty, the better we get," she said.

Though it has been a good year for Faculty Senate, Barlowe said there were some challenges to overcome when trying to merge two campus senates together.

"There was a lot of suspicion and distrust based on the merger and new administration that people didn't know, and we had a new strategic plan. All of those things that were different, people [on Main Campus] were afraid not knowing what the administration and Health Science Campus does," she said.

On April 20, Barlowe attended her last meeting as a member of the BOT Academic and Student Affairs Committee. Barrett will become a member of the committee at the end of this academic year, Barlowe said.

Barlowe said she hopes Barrett will carry on the progress that Faculty Senate has already made to integrate the two campuses and hopes there will be better communication between students, trustees, faculty and administrators.

"I advise [Barrett] towards more complex shared governance," she said.

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