K-State's new faculty senate president, Melody LeHew, knows the next year will bring more than its fair share of challenges, among them the transition to new presidential leadership, the search for a new provost and a troubled economy.
These three things will color every decision the senate makes over the next year, she said.
"Because of the transition taking place and the economic downturn, I carry increased responsibility for being an effective faculty advocate," LeHew said. "The value placed in shared governance here at K-State is unique and we as faculty in general need to participate in that process."
That's why as the "voice of the faculty," LeHew says she'll reach out to as many on campus as she can. She wants to encourage everyone to use the shared governance process to its fullest.
"I want faculty and unclassified professionals to seek out their faculty senate representatives and express their concerns, share their ideas for improving our institution," she said. "I want faculty senators to synthesize and discuss these ideas and concerns within their caucus groups and bring them forward to the Faculty Senate Leadership Council."
Council members meet with the senate's university executive leadership team on a regular basis, which allows for the timely transmission of views so the faculty senate president can be effective, LeHew said. And having so many people engaged means LeHew will be well aware of both faculty concerns and innovative ideas that might help the university come through these times for the better.
"We're at the point where we need everybody's ideas. We can help shape the university and influence where we want to go and who we want to be as an organization," she said. "We're also at a point where we really have to do the difficult work."
Issues facing the senate this year will include academic matters, such as approving implementation and assessment plans for the K-State 8 -- a new general education requirement; faculty and unclassified professional concerns, including modifications to the administrative review process; and issues important to the university as a whole, primarily budget cuts and the hiring of a new provost.
"This is a time of uncertainty and change and I realize that this can make people feel fearful or apathetic," LeHew said. "I'm hoping that we do not let the challenges paralyze our ability to find and pursue unique opportunities that will allow us to come through this time of transition a stronger and more vibrant institution."
LeHew is an associate professor in the department of apparel, textiles and interior design who has been at K-State since 1996. She has been involved in faculty senate since 2004.
Editor's note: K-Statement will feature the new president of the classified senate in a future edition.
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