At the Dec. 4 meeting, Chair Paul Lim gave the report of the senate’s Executive Committee. Topics he discussed included the following:
- The suggestion to add a welcome letter for new faculty to the Faculty Manual. The Faculty Senate chair would author this letter, whose purpose would be to raise awareness of the Faculty Senate among new faculty members and underscore the importance of the Faculty Manual for all faculty.
- Ongoing issues with the Concur travel system. Lim has reviewed a 20-page document outlining issues with Concur and plans further discussions with Provost Susan Wente and Vice Chancellor Jeff Balser, as well as with various schools and departments to gain a global perspective of how Concur functions within Vanderbilt. Tony Grayson, director of Disbursements, Travel and Payment Cards, will discuss Concur at an upcoming Executive Committee meeting.
- Forming a Faculty Senate task force on university athletics in addition to the university’s standing committee on athletics. The task force will include senators and other members to give more in-depth attention by the senate to athletics issues.
- The reorganization of Vanderbilt University and Vanderbilt University Medical Center into separate legal and financial entities. Lim anticipates ongoing discussion of this issue as the reorganization unfolds.
- Changes to the Vanderbilt retirement plan and how investments are administered. Immediate Past Chair Donald Brady gave a presentation on these changes at a specially called senate meeting in November.
- A planned town hall meeting on globalization and internationalization at Vanderbilt. Vice Chair Rolanda Johnson and Immediate Past Vice Chair Jeff Johnston are finalizing a survey on this issue to be sent to faculty during the spring semester.
Next, Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos offered remarks on the reorganization of the university and Medical Center, athletics, internationalization and globalization at Vanderbilt, and progress on implementing the academic strategic plan.
Under old business, Sen. Brian Christman, chair of the Academic Policies and Services Committee, reopened discussion on a motion to approve a new Astrophysics Ph.D. program. (It was decided at the November meeting that a quorum was not present to vote on the motion, so voting was suspended until December.) After Professor of Astronomy David Weintraub answered questions about the new program, Lim called for a vote by closed ballot. The motion passed unanimously.
Under new business, senators Joel Harrington, Claire Smrekar, Brian Heuser and Myrna Wooders proposed a motion that all voting among the Faculty Senate become electronic and anonymous, with the exception of routine matters. The precedent for electronic voting among the senate dates to a 2003 motion but has heretofore been optional, not a requirement.
Following a discussion, including what to do in instances should the electronic voting system fail, the motion was amended as follows:
“Be it resolved that, except for routine matters such as the approval of minutes and adjournment or when a roll call is effected, or in the matter of electronic disruption, all voting in the Faculty Senate be electronic and anonymous.”
Lim closed discussion on the motion and said a vote would be taken at the next regular senate meeting in February 2015.
Under Good of the Senate, discussion arose about how changes to university policy are reflected in the Faculty Manual. Lim recommended deferring the matter to the Senate Affairs Committee and Faculty Manual Ad Hoc Committee for further exploration.
Read the full December meeting minutes here.
For more information about the senate, upcoming meetings or to find the senators who serve your school, visit the Faculty Senate website.
Contact: Andrea Hewitt, (615) 343-3841