Faculty Senate is the legislative arm of faculty action. It most frequently listens to recommendations for policy changes involving student or faculty affairs, but most students have not known about their distinct presence on campus.
Students are not quite familiar with Faculty Senate, especially those new to UWRF.
“I would assume that the Faculty Senate is composed of teachers that help improve our college experience,” said freshman Alex Carr.
“In general, it is very rare for students to attend to our meetings,” said Faculty Senate Secretary John Heppen. “It’s too bad because it is for their benefit to attend.”
Heppen has served on Faculty Senate for eight years. He has not noticed a strong student presence during his involvement in Faculty Senate.
“We need to know what the students want. It’s like driving in the dark with no lights on,” said Faculty Senate Chair David Rainville.
Faculty Senate Committees do have seats available for students to fill and make their voice heard.
“Most of those seats are left vacant,” Rainville said. “I can understand because most students have a very heavy load with school.”
Every spring, elections are held for Faculty Senate.
Nominations are accepted for each Faculty Senate term. The members take office during mid-summer, before the start of fall semester.
Faculty Senate has several divisions: the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences, the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Education and Professional Studies, the Fourth Division, and the College of Business and Economics.
Each division has several seats that need to be filled each year. The seats that are up for election depend on the length of each individual term.
Faculty Senate makes recommendations and pursues actions concerning the general welfare of students attending the University.
“Our major focus this year is to compensate the staff,” Rainville said. “It creates a problem recruiting and maintaining faculty to create a quality education for students.”
UWRF faculty and staff have not received major wage increases in eight years.
Faculty Senate differs from the Student Senate.
Student Senate serves as the voice of the student body, advocating for problems affecting students on campus.
Faculty Senate is concerned with the University as a whole. It works closely with academic staff, Board of Regents, budget planning, and the student body.
Recently, they passed several program changes within a wide range of degree programs, including: secondary education, psychology, geography and physics.
Other motions passed during Faculty Senate’s last few meetings were directly related to the Counseling Program as well as the North Hall Centennial Celebration Task Force.
“I wish students would show up and make their presence known,” Heppen said.
Faculty Senate meets every other Wednesday each month. The meetings are open because the Wisconsin Open Meetings Law governs them.
“Our decisions have an impact on each student’s academic careers,” Heppen answered, when asked why students should attend.
Faculty Senate meets in a central location for students to attend their meetings, such as the University Center.
“Sometimes the Student Senate members attend. We are really trying to communicate with students and it starts with the Student Senate,” Rainville said.
“Our ultimate goal is the education of students,” Heppen said.
Faculty Senate shares their goal with UWRF’s administration and students, in governing the students.
Students who are interested in learning more about the Faculty Senate are strongly advised to attend their next meeting, scheduled for Oct. 9. If students are unable to attend, they can check out the Faculty Senate website, www.uwrf.edu/facultysenate, for recent motions passed or for further information on the Faculty Senate.