Chair outlines Faculty Senate priorities for year ahead

Faculty Senate Chair Michael Fitzgerald says that a number of priorities for the Senate emerged from the Senate’s August retreat, some of which continue from the 2005-06 Senate deliberations.

One of the first items – and potentially the most complicated Fitzgerald says – is review of the University’s proposal for the independent doctorate in educational leadership, expected to be offered in fall 2007. The program will provide advanced training for administrators in elementary and secondary schools and community colleges.

Sacramento State’s plan, due in the Chancellor’s Office Nov. 1, will cover issues such as admission standards, program structure, curriculum and faculty. Once the plan for the program is established and approved by the campus, it will need to be approved by the CSU Board of Trustees, the California Postsecondary Education Commission and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Sacramento State is one of seven CSU campuses that will be offering the doctorate.

“This is an important program for the University and the Faculty Senate wants to help the doctorate get off to a strong start,” says Fitzgerald, a professor of Journalism.

Another priority for the Faculty Senate is enrollment management, especially in the area of student retention, he says.

“We believe the faculty can help the University with the problem, which affects all of us,” says Fitzgerald. He noted that in recent years fewer students are returning to Sacramento State to continue their education. “We want to look at the data to see what is happening to our students. We need to find out why students aren’t returning to our campus and where they are going instead.”

Fitzgerald says another priority is better coordination of the various faculty awards and recognition programs the Faculty Senate administers. Those annual award programs include the Livingston Lecture as well as the outstanding faculty teaching awards and the outstanding community service awards. “We need to have a better way of coordinating awards and recognition so they all get the attention they deserve,” he says.

Fitzgerald served previously as chair of the Faculty Senate in 1996. In the 1990s, he served as a member of the Faculty Senate for six years. After his stint as chair, Fitzgerald went on to serve three years as a statewide academic senator. A member of the Sacramento State faculty since 1986, Fitzgerald is returning to serve his fourth year on the Faculty Senate since ending his statewide status.

As chair of the Faculty Senate this second time, Fitzgerald says he has several goals in mind.

First, he would like the Faculty Senate to become more of an open forum for the entire campus. “I see the Faculty Senate as a place for not only faculty but also for staff and students to provide input on policy issues. One of my goals is to see the Faculty Senate used as a forum to talk about issues before we provide the President with policy recommendations,” he says.

Second, Fitzgerald would like to work to help junior faculty take more leadership positions in the Faculty Senate and across the University. Untenured faculty make up as much as 60 percent of the Faculty Senate today, he says.

And third, Fitzgerald wants to help develop a more collegial atmosphere on campus. “We should be able to discuss ideas, disagree, but in the end still be able to get along as colleagues and professionals,” Fitzgerald says. “Everybody on campus has something to contribute.”