Emily Bonney, the new chair of the Academic Senate, has three years on the faculty governing body’s executive committee but that doesn’t mean that she takes the new role as old hat.
“I think it’s going to be interesting, fun and engaging,” she said from her office in the Senate office in the Pollak Library. “I’m looking forward to it.”
The associate professor of liberal studies, a member of the campus since 1995, was elected to lead the senate during its May 14 meeting. “I can start conversations and bring issues to people much more easily now than I could as vice chair.”
For the coming year, Bonney sees her role “as working to facilitate finding solutions. I hope to help people arrive at a result that achieves our shared goals.”
Such issues include general education, which she sees as being an important subject for discussion in the coming year. Aspects of GE, including student learning goals and outcomes, came before the senate in May. Bonney, who recently returned from a conference on the subject, says, “We’ll work to strengthen GE … we want it to provide students with the breadth of other disciplines, but we don’t want them to see it as just a checklist of courses they have to take.
“It’s important to have students see how GE fits in with their major,” Bonney explains. “Really the goal is to bring it into the major, to make the major richer — make students mindful of their choices without depriving them of the opportunity for the serendipitous discovery of a whole new field of study.”
Toward that end, she will serve as the senate’s liaison with Associated Students Inc. to discuss the issue, as well as use that position as a way of building relationships with students.
In the coming year, the senate will continue its review of policies for updating. One that specifically needs further review is UPS 210.000 Faculty Personnel Policy and Procedures. “Senate members asked for a review of this UPS to create a more efficient process for departments that want to make minor changes to their personnel documents. This has been a big issue and while we made a short-term fix at the marathon meeting, everyone agreed we needed something more durable.”
Another goal for Bonney is reaching out to the large number of faculty members who are relatively new to campus. “I want to see them become more engaged with the University and the senate. The Academic Senate and its committees should reflect the composition and diversity of our faculty.”
Bonney also is seeking ways to enhance communication between the senate and the college community. “I want communication to be effective, to increase the campus community’s awareness of what is being addressed at senate meetings and discussed in committees,” Bonney says. “That means finding some way to make the Academic Senate message stand out from the emails we get every day.”