FSEC hears proposal for 'Faculty Fellows in Administration'

News Services Associate Editor

A proposal to establish a formal program to allow selected faculty members to participate directly in senior administrative activities-and obtain valuable administrative experience-was presented to the Faculty Senate Executive Committee at its March 25 meeting.

The proposal for a "Faculty Fellows in Administration" program, submitted by Faculty Senate Chair Peter Nickerson, professor of pathology, is similar to a program being promoted by the Professional Staff Senate for its members.

Under the program, faculty members would be assigned to a senior administrative officer and given a project related to the area of expertise and needs of the administrator. Faculty members would bring "special expertise" to the project, resulting in a "more finely tuned policy or study than otherwise would have been the case," according to the proposal.

The fellowship would be a part-time endeavor, allowing faculty members to continue teaching with a reduced load and with research.

Nickerson recalled that when Provost Aaron Bloch died in 1995, "there was the comment that we really didn't have a large number of people waiting in the wings who had a lot of experience at the higher level of administration."

In addition to preparing faculty members to assume administrative roles when needed, the fellowship would bring "the faculty viewpoint directly to the senior administration," Nickerson said.

"The more faculty who have contact with the administrative side, the better off we are because the faculty understand clearly the institutional missionŠthe fact that we have issues that affect the entire institution," he said. "The ability to retain contact between the two groups-the administration and faculty-I think is something we can improve. That is what we really are proposing here."

Nickerson noted that although some individual faculty members have served "fifth-floor" internships from time to time, there has never been a formal program. He pointed out that Senior Vice President Robert J. Wagner has had a similar program in his office for several years for professional-staff members.

Keith Herms, interim chair of the Professional Staff Senate, said that Dennis Black, interim vice president for student affairs, also is implementing an internship for professionals. Moreover, the Professional Staff Development Task Force, a group composed of faculty and professional-staff members and chaired by John Thomas, interim dean of the School of Management, is developing a program that would allow professional staff members to pursue internships in academic units, Herms added. "We think the idea (of internships) is good and it would certainly make sense to have it expanded to academia," he said.

Claude Welch, SUNY Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Political Science, suggested that to make the program more attractive, fellowship projects should tackle important campus issues where there is "a great deal of faculty expertise and concern." Possible topics might include retention, access to computing and assessment of academic programs, he said.

Nickerson said he will forward the proposal to President William R. Greiner and Provost Thomas E. Headrick for review.

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