By: Taylor Bradford ‘19
Gordon College’s faculty elected seven new Faculty Senate members on May 8 after deciding to reinstate the voting process five days prior.
College President D. Michael Lindsay announced in a May 17 email to the Gordon community that Elaine Phillips, Daniel Johnson, Jonathan Senning, Bruce Herman, Dorothy Boorse, Mark Cannister and Sybil Coleman have been elected by the faculty as Gordon College’s new Faculty Senate for the 2017-2018 academic year.
Lindsay wrote, “The Senate plays a vital role in faculty leadership and all of us in the College’s leadership are grateful to the entire faculty for their diligence in making this happen before the end of the spring semester.”
After the seven previous Faculty Senate members resigned from their senatorship, the faculty declined to pick a new Senate immediately. Mediator Meirwyn Walters, who is a lawyer for the college, informed the faculty that the Administrative and Faculty Handbook requires there to be a full and active Faculty Senate in the spring so as to make decisions regarding faculty employment matters.
The Administrative and Faculty Handbook states, “Faculty senators are elected each spring by weighted ballot prior to the work of the Nominating Committee, along with two alternates who serve in place of faculty senators away on sabbatical or leave.”
Certain faculty members said they chose to reinstate the voting process because, as one professor present at the faculty meetings noted, “It is our obligation according to the handbook, and we must uphold that as it is written in our contract.”
The faculty voted to reinstate the process during a faculty meeting on May 3. The online ballot was open from 8 p.m. that Wednesday, May 3, to 10 a.m. Friday, May 5. Although the results of the new senate were finalized by faculty on May 8, the college did not publically announce the newly elected senate until May 17.
In the email that announced the election results, Lindsay explained the college’s plans for further development and growth. Walters led a facilitated discussion with Lindsay, Curry and the former members of the Senate earlier this week to address issues, share perspectives and look toward the future.
Rick Sweeney, a spokesperson for the college, said the central issue that three parties were discussing “was the process for finalizing promotion recommendations, but the larger issue they are addressing is the breakdown in communications.”
Lindsay described this meeting as one that reflects “our shared desire for conciliation and a constructive dialogue to address the breakdowns in the working relationship between the faculty and the administration.”
Walters declined to comment.
Over the summer of 2017, Walters will be reviewing current protocols relating to “faculty hiring, promotion and tenure,” according to Lindsay’s email. In addition to Walters evaluation of the handbook, he will facilitate discussions between Provost Curry and the new Faculty Senate as they work “to develop a clear set of commitments and understandings to govern our interactions going forward,” according to the email.
In an email correspondence with The Tartan, new Faculty Senator Boorse said, “It is an honor to represent the faculty on the senate. It feels like a sacred trust. I desire to be a part of peacemaking, and I feel hopeful because of the processes put into place to foster better communication and resolve differences.”
“Our work is the same every year in one sense and new each time in another. We bring all that we have to the table in order to fairly assess a colleague’s bid for tenure or promotion – and every time it is new because it is a new person’s file we’re studying. It’s an honor to serve in this capacity – and I have no special hesitation or worry – except the healthy fear that comes from studying a colleague’s materials – materials that are often awe-inspiring,” Herman wrote.
Of the seven Senate Faculty members, Senning, Phillips and Johnson will be serving a three-year term; Herman will be serving a two-year term; and Coleman, Boorse and Cannister will be serving a one-year term.
“I have served on the Senate for a number of terms in the past, so will simply tell you that we are, as always, in need of God’s wisdom and the abiding presence of God’s Spirit,” said Phillips.
Herman commented, “We have a great faculty here at Gordon, and they produce awesome scholarship, teaching and service to the College, so it is an honor and a pleasure to serve as one who reads and reflections on their contribution to our life together.”