Faculty Forum on University Governance
By Richard Wood, Faculty Senate President
Faculty leaders have spent recent months in extensive dialogue with the regents and key UNM administrators. We have sought a shared commitment to the right decision-making processes to confront fiscal and academic challenges and make UNM more fully the research university that New Mexico needs.
The faculty's goals are twofold: First, to assure that every decision at UNM is made while asking, "What is this decision's impact on UNM's core academic mission?" Second, to assure that faculty can contribute their knowledge – gained at the front lines of teaching and research – to all university decisions, early enough to make a difference in those decisions.
As Faculty Senate president, I have a few strategic priorities for the year ahead. First, faculty leaders will work with university financial authorities on a strategic process to assure an academic voice in future budgets. We need to protect our core mission in the face of budget cuts, but also focus our resources – faculty time, student advising, money, etc. – to make best use of them in pursuit of our mission.
Second, we will work with the administration to develop a vision and long-term plan for funding our core academic mission – faculty hiring, front-line staff hiring, merit pay, research, student fellowships, etc.
Third, we will systematically strive to link academic excellence and faculty diversity. I hope to engage faculty in a conversation about creating the university of the future by diversifying our own faculty and graduate programs – incorporating diversity of race, ethnicity, rural and urban origins, international perspectives, and women in the scientific disciplines and senior ranks as unique emphases within an intensified commitment to academic excellence.
Fourth, we will engage faculty in strengthening our contribution to the academic mission. We need to get better at what we do, both in university governance and in advancing excellence of research and teaching in departments.
Fifth, we will do shared governance by working with administrative and staff partners to restructure the core curriculum, design program review, create a better faculty disciplinary process and implement electronic scholarly publishing.
Sixth, we will make clear that the faculty are necessary and credible partners in crafting the future of this flagship university, to be involved in selection processes for future university leaders and in building stronger relations with state government.
By constantly focusing on our academic mission, UNM can continue to provide students with the education they need to compete and succeed. If we do it right, UNM can emerge from recent controversies and current fiscal challenges poised to be a national flagship linking excellence and diversity at the core of our mission.