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November 6, 1997


The Faculty Assembly is not nearly as effective as it could be and one reason for this is its inequitable balloting process.

At present, the process only permits voting by large blocs or clusters of schools, rather than by academic units where faculty members know each other reasonably well. Under the present system, many candidates are virtually unknown to the voters.

The University Senate bylaws state that members of the Faculty Assembly are elected thus: "(1) 45 elected faculty members from the Oakland campus: 15 from the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, divided equally among the divisions; 15 from the (non-health) professional schools, and 15 from the Health Sciences; (2) nine elected faculty members from the regional campuses: four from Johnstown, two each from Bradford and Greensburg and one from Titusville; (3) three faculty members at large." To systematize the somewhat random distribution of the Assembly's membership and make it more relevant to faculty concerns, the following proposal would guarantee representation by all academic groups within the University.

* Faculties in each of the seven non-health sciences schools and the University libraries would nominate and elect two persons; the non-health sciences schools include business, education, engineering, information sciences, law, public and international affairs, and social work.

* Similarly, faculties in each of the six health sciences schools would nominate and elect two persons; these schools include dental, health and rehabilitation sciences, medical, nursing, pharmacy, and public health.

* The regional campuses also would nominate and elect two individuals from each campus to participate in the Assembly's monthly meetings on the Oakland campus, either in person or possibly electronically.

This proposal would address problems of access to the Oakland campus by regional campus representatives who must travel long distances, limiting their attendance at meetings. It has been suggested that a telecommunication hookup from the regional campuses be established to facilitate participation in Faculty Assembly meetings.

* Maldistribution in the Faculty Assembly is due in large part to the widely varying size of academic units, particularly among FAS departments. Accordingly, I am suggesting that the Assembly boost the number of its 15 elected Arts and Sciences delegates to 18 by electing six representatives instead of five from each of the three divisions in FAS: the humanities, natural sciences and social sciences. Even with this adjustment, the Arts and Sciences will still have minority representation in the Assembly when matched against the combined total from the non-health and health professional schools; except for the medical school, the average number of faculty members in the professional schools is one-tenth the number in FAS.

These changes would permit the Assembly to maintain its same overall size, increasing the membership by only one faculty member from the Oakland campus traded off against the loss of one from the regional campuses. The proposed change would remove the need for at-large membership unless so desired by the faculty.

Each division, school, campus or other faculty unit would nominate and elect representatives to the Faculty Assembly under University Senate direction. Thus, each academic unit would have two-way communication with the Assembly and be better able to integrate the affairs of its faculty into other University activities. In recent years, there has been an increasing unwillingness by the administration to share in the governance of the University through the Faculty Assembly. This new structure could well prompt the administration to enhance the Faculty Assembly's role in University governance — if for no other reason than a more representative structure would tend to increase faculty participation in University activities. The next step is to learn what the faculty thinks of these ideas and then to request the bylaws committee of the University Senate to review the matter and make appropriate recommendations to the Faculty Assembly. Other ideas or suggestions for updating or otherwise improving the organization of the Faculty Assembly would be very much appreciated. Please don't hesitate to communicate directly with me so that I can convey your wishes and concerns to the Faculty Assembly. My e-mail address is

Gordon MacLeod is president of the University Senate.

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