Senate Matters: Shared governance is your peers looking out for you


With very little experience in shared governance and a mandate from the executive committee that I produce this column, I did what anyone in my shoes would do.

I forced a bot to read 1,000 Senate Matters columns. It is still running. In the meantime, I will buy some time with an anecdote.

A few years ago, I volunteered to organize a research retreat in my department. Basically, it was supposed to be an extended lunch with a talk given by an interesting speaker. And like many who have tread a similar path, I took that to mean, “interesting to me.” So naturally, I contacted a professor I had eight years prior as an undergrad in the History & Philosophy of Science Department, and asked if he knew of anyone in his department who might want to give a talk about anything at all to a crowd of Emergency Medicine folks. You can guess how that went.

There is probably a lesson about best intentions, impracticality, and ineffective communication in that story, but that’s not why I recount it here. I really wanted to reflect on the University Senate. Your University Senate. And what is the Senate? The Senate is an ongoing exercise in best intentions, practicality, communication —

Wait. I admit that was cheap, but don’t leave yet. The bot is still running…

Anyway, the fact is, that is what the Senate is. It is your peers, from dozens of departments, bringing disparate experiences and worldviews to bear on matters that affect you.

It is a philosopher deliberating the future of your retirement benefits. It is a cardiologist weighing in on your compensation scales. It is a creative writer asking difficult questions about sexual harassment policy. It is the administrative professionals who execute these policies doing their due diligence to understand how those policies are and are not working. Whether you are aware of it or not (many people are not), this process is integral to the operational machinery of the University. It is always running.

Unlike my bot, which just finished. Let’s see what it produced.


“This year, planning the future, we will and we can do, together. Believe.”


Well, that was eerily succinct.

Join us in the Senate and see what we can all do together.

Your new University Senate Vice President, David Salcido, is a research assistant professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine in the School of Medicine. He is free every Friday at noon to talk in the normal way or over racquetball.