The Faculty Senate is a little known resource for students. It is comprised of faculty members from each college, and their goal is to use their roles to make sure that the policy and programs that come through the senate are beneficial to everyone and will not have negative repercussions. The first faculty senate meeting took place in 2007, so the senate has been an integral part of policy at Pacific University for twelve years.
The Faculty Senate acts as the main body the faculty has when they want to address questions about policy. If there is policy that has to do with any academic component, then the faculty senate is the place where members from all of the colleges can gather to talk about it.
Some of the things that come through are any kind of new programs or additions to existing programs or changes and additions to policy. Just this past semester, two new programs have been introduced to the university that have to do with new bachelor’s degrees. One of them being a bachelor in music education.
“This is a really exciting curriculum to them to try and bring more people to Pacific, and get them prepared to teach music in the school system,” Richard Van Buskirk, Faculty Senate chair, said.
In a similar vein, there is a new program coming out of the college of arts and sciences and the college of math, and they are putting together a proposal for a new bachelor in data science. Both of these proposals have gone through review, received input from the senators and eventually were approved to move on to the next step.
When asked about the connection between the faculty senate and students, Van Buskirk noted that he would like to see more ways for students to understand the governance process.
“There’s always more to do in terms of communicating with students,” Van Buskirk said, “It’s tough, because some of it is making what we do interesting and some of it there’s less interest in.”
It is important for students to be aware of what occurs in these faculty meetings, because some of the things that are being discussed may be directly relevant to them. It gives them a sense that there are things happening beyond the classroom that all ties in to how the university is governed.