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Faculty senate constitution under review


A constitution establishing a faculty senate at UT Rio Grande Valley is under review by the UT System officials say.

In January, a constitution committee composed of the former executive committees of UT Brownsville and UT Pan American faculty senates began drafting the document for the new university.

“We had the Faculty Senate Constitution vote approved Aug. 17,” said Constitution Committee member and Communication Associate Professor Dora Saavedra. “But, we did not have a complete list of [full-time UTRGV professors], so we put off elections until UTRGV actually existed, which was Aug. 31, and then we began the work of electing senators. ”

As of press time Thursday, 40 of nearly 80 senators had been elected, Saavedra said.

The draft constitution was sent to Havidán Rodríguez, provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs, and Guy Bailey, UTRGV president, for approval. They approved the constitution and now it is only pending approval from the UT System Office of General Counsel.

“We are hoping to have our first meeting Oct. 23 at 1:30 p.m.,” Saavedra said. “We don’t have spots yet, I reserved rooms in both [the Edinburg campus] and the Harlingen location.”

Former UTB Faculty Senate President Bobbette Morgan said it’s important to have a legislative body so that the staff can “have a voice.”

Asked why the Faculty Senate was not formed in August, Rodríguez replied: “Why has it taken so long? Because they have been working on it, and trying to get ready for UTRGV.”

The new constitution sets term limits at one year; however, senators and officers may seek re-election. Senators are elected by their respective department rather than by college as was done at UTPA. The number of senators will depend on the size of the department.

“I feel bad, on one hand, that we didn’t have the senate in place from day one,” Morgan said. “On the other hand, to have it all in place by October is a good thing.”

Faculty senates date to medieval times, according to Morgan. It’s the idea that scholars and their leaders should share in decision-making.

The senate is responsible for creating procedures for hiring and advancing or placing a faculty member in a new position. This is done in the hope of eliminating discrimination.

Senators are able to voice any problems professors in their department have.

“Faculty Senate is the only appropriate venue to bring up issues that faculty as a whole have,” Communication Professor Louis Falk said.

Communication Associate Professor Ben Wasike has experienced problems with the computers malfunctioning in his classroom and hopes to bring it to the attention of the faculty senate once it is established.

“Last week, I still had the same problem, after we had gotten confirmation that [Information Technology] had fixed the computers,” Wasike said. “You really can’t go and check every computer and wait five minutes for them to crash. You can only tell when class is running, and that’s a very horrible situation.”

One of his students, communication senior Judith Mireles, said the computers shut down every 10 minutes and then restart.

“So, all our work will be taken down, all of that happens,” Mireles said. “It’s to a point where it’s just unbearable.”

Provost Rodríguez said students and faculty with technical issues may email the Office of the Chief Information Officer at CIO@utrgv.edu.

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