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June 18, 2007
Steve Rock, professor of educational specialties, transitioned to the role of Faculty Senate chair at the final senate meeting of the semester, May 9. Rock served as chair-elect during 2006-07.
"This University has a rich tradition of faculty governance that I have come to appreciate more deeply over the last year," Rock said. "Although Faculty Senate clearly performs an advisory role, we are regularly consulted on issues and we meet regularly with the president and provost to exchange information."
The 2007-08 Faculty Senate agenda is ambitious. Working with the result of the state budget tops the list. While Rock is concerned about potential budget cuts, he is confident that President Milt Glick will work with faculty, administrators, and students to develop solutions that will ensure that students are able to enroll in the classes they need and continue to meet the mission of the university.
According to data presented by Glick, only about one in seven students graduate in four years. Glick is espousing a 'Culture of Completion' to increase the four-year graduation rate.
"Students who take more credits are more engaged with their education, earn higher grades, and begin their professional careers sooner," Rock said. "I don't see any downside. If more students graduate in four years everyone benefits."
Other faculty senate priorities include the Summer Scholars project, reapportionment and considering the role and contribution of non-traditional faculty. Rock also hopes to raise awareness of the value and importance of Faculty Senate service – particularly among senior faculty members.
"President Glick has shown a strong commitment that the voice of the Faculty Senate is heard, and that we have input into decision-making at the highest level," Rock said. "As we have looked at policies and procedures, there has been an effort within the system staff to recognize common issues across institutions, allow campuses to provide more detail, yet ensure consistency at the system level."
Robin Gonzalez, Faculty Senate manager, is organizing volunteers to participate in Summer Scholars, a reading project that will be introduced to the Class of 2011. All entering freshman will read Sweet Promised Land by Robert Laxalt over the summer and arrive at campus prepared to participate in small, discussion groups. As many as 200 faculty and staff members will be needed to facilitate 100 projected study groups.
The project offers a unifying experience for incoming freshman and reinforces the idea of a 'sticky' campus. President Glick has coined the term to describe a 24/7 culture that draws students to campus, keeps them here after classes to participate in cultural and lifestyle activities. As Glick sees it, the campus is where students live, regardless of where they sleep.
ASUN has expressed interest in broadening the book project to other University students. "That is something to consider," Rock said. "By engaging in the campus experience, students will get their degree sooner and they will have a richer experience. We want that for all students."
Rock supports the selection of Sweet Promised Land for the Summer Scholars first book. "This year is the 50th anniversary of the publication of the book. Robert Laxalt was a member of the faculty and he founded University Press. And, for young people who may not have lived in the region for very long, it offers an introduction to the historic sheepherder and ranching culture of northern Nevada while providing an interesting perspective on contemporary issues of immigration, cultural diversity, generational differences, and family."
Rock anticipates that Faculty Senate must examine the issue of reapportionment. "The senate is a representative form of government and we must look at its structure because the campus has grown."
According to Rock, the introduction of effort reporting has prompted the Faculty Senate to reflect on the role and contributions of non-traditional faculty.
"Faculty members in non-traditional roles contribute to the campus in different ways. They're much more diverse in supporting functions of the campus. We have to support policies and procedures that protect them to the extent that we can."
Rock joined the College of Education in 1990 and has served as Research and Educational Planning Center director, Nevada University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities director, department of Curriculum and Instruction chair, and acting dean of the college.
"We have a president who values faculty input, so we want to have a good working relationship with President Glick," Rock said. "He has shown a strong commitment that the voice of the Faculty Senate is heard and operates with a real sense of fairness."
"I am incredibly fortunate to be chair of the Faculty Senate this year because we will see the impact of Milt Glick as president," Rock said. "His openness, willingness to share information and engage conversation are impressive."