May 28, 2017

Faculty Votes to Cancel Senate Elections

The Chairman's Room in Ken Olsen Science Center where the faculty meeting was held. Photo by Liam Adams

By Taylor Bradford ‘19, Shalom Maleachi ‘17, Liam Adams ‘17, Andrew Shuman ‘19

An overwhelming majority of the Gordon College faculty voted to nullify the voting process for the election of three new Faculty Senate members during an official faculty meeting on Apr. 19.

The decision to nullify occurred during Wednesday’s meeting, which was held to discuss matters related to the resignation of all seven members of Gordon’s Faculty Senate, who resigned over disagreements about shared governance between faculty and administration. Faculty members present at the Senate’s public resignation said that it was clear that the resignation was unrelated to issues regarding the college’s official position on homosexuality.  

The faculty’s vote to nullify the voting process maintains the total absence of the Faculty Senate. The faculty desired to address issues brought up by the Faculty Senate’s unanimous resignation before they elect an entirely new Faculty Senate, faculty members who were present said.

Every spring the college’s faculty members are to vote for three new senators on an online weighted ballot “prior to the work of the Nominating Committee, along with two alternates who serve in place of faculty senators away on sabbatical or leave,” Section Three of the Administrative and Faculty Handbook states.

The election for the three new faculty senate members had been open prior to the Apr. 5 resignation of the entire faculty senate. With faculty approval of the motion to nullify as of Wednesday, this current election has effectively been called off.

Multiple professors who were present at the meeting affirmed that the decision to cancel the previously ongoing voting process of new Faculty Senate members was so that [faculty] could take the recent Senate resignation into account and see how issues of faculty governance can be addressed by faculty and administration going forward.

Prior to the motion to nullify, Attorney Meirwyn Walters, the College Counsel and an adjunct professor in the Economics and Business Department, spoke to the faculty about the need to continue the voting process for new Faculty Senate members as well as the legal obligations that they must uphold, as written in the Administrative and Faculty Handbook.

According to a faculty member present at the meeting, Walters proposed multiple courses of action that the faculty should take in response to an absent Faculty Senate.

One option Walters presented is that a new election should begin as soon as possible to replace the seven vacant Senate spots. A second option is that the election could be delayed so that the faculty as a whole could confront issues related to the previous Senate’s resignation.  

The roles of the Faculty Senate, which are outlined in the Administrative and Faculty Handbook, include having to “interview each candidate for full or part time faculty position and advise the provost whether that candidate would be acceptable for hiring by the college.”

Section 3 of the Handbook also states the responsibilities of the Senate are “to make recommendations to the provost concerning faculty candidates for promotion and tenure.”

Walters also informed the faculty that in the absence of a Faculty Senate, the Provost and President of the college would be given sole authority over the responsibilities of hiring new faculty and the promotion and tenure of junior faculty. The more pressing of these tasks would be hiring new faculty, which will potentially take place in the summer of 2017.

One faculty member who was present and spoke on condition of anonymity said, “At any of these meetings that they’ve had, there have been clear and stark disagreements. I am impressed by the Christian charity that is demonstrated in the way that the disagreements have been discussed. No raised voices, no accusations, people expressing concerns and diverging opinions. Doing it in a constructive and positive way.”

An all-faculty meeting is scheduled to be held next week to further discuss the issue.

 

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