On Monday, the Senate Assembly elected Robert Ziff, Laura Olsen and Anne Mondro to serve three-year terms on the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs. The nine-person committee meets weekly to contribute a faculty voice to discussions on University affairs and policy.
Eight candidates from colleges across the University ran for positions. The election was hotly contested. The three top vote-getters earned seats on SACUA, while the last seat came down to a run-off ballot. Before the balloting process, many of the candidates spoke of their commitment to tackling issues like affordability and diversity, as well as bridging the gap between administration and faculty.
Martha Pollack, vice provost for academic and budgetary affairs — who will succeed current Provost Phil Hanlon in May — spoke after the election about the importance of lessening an “us vs. them” mentality between the University’s administration and the general faculty.
“If we are not pulling together, we are sunk,” Pollack said. “I hope we can all do something about it.”
Pollack added that “pulling together” now was more important than ever with numerous challenges facing public higher education.
Anne Mondro, an associate professor in the School of Art & Design, was elected to SACUA with the most votes. She wrote in her candidate statement that she wanted to focus on supporting the development of innovative teaching methods and bringing transparency to University policies.
“I am invested in learning as much as possible about the University system and to educate others and be a voice (in that process),” Mondro said in an address to the Senate Assembly.
Mondro added that she would bring a unique voice to SACUA because she comes from the art school, which is not currently represented on the committee, bringing an understanding of creative inquiry in education.
“I understand that there are many modes of learning,” Mondro said. “I will support creative inquiry and continue to encourage it to be used within in the University as an important mode of research.”
Chemical Engineering Prof. Robert Ziff has worked for the University for 32 years. He served on SACUA last semester as a substitute for Engineering Prof. Rachel Goldman, who was on sabbatical.
Ziff said he would focus on defending tenure and academic freedom. In his candidate statement, he wrote about his interest in confronting the challenges of affordability and diversity at the University, “in the face of declining federal support and a growing student body.”
Ziff wants to increase the voice faculty have concerning University affairs and policy, influence he said has diminished over time.
Biology Prof. Laura Olsen said her experience teaching in many positions has given her a good sense of the in-and-outs of the University and an understanding of the difficulty in balancing teaching, research and scholarship.
Olsen too wants to to increase the relevance of faculty governance.
“I believe that it is important for all faculty voices to be considered in decisions being made that affect our outstanding faculty and amazing student body as we work to preserve and improve our scholarship and academic life,” Olson said.
SACUA Chair Kimberlee Kearfott, a professor of nuclear engineering and radiological science, said she was very satisfied with the results of the election.
“Faculty governance won,” Kearfott said. “We could not have possibly lost with such a fine slate of candidates.”