All aspects of life are rapidly changing in the 21st century, especially as a result of technology/computing innovations that have changed our world. Such change also is very quickly reshaping universities and our teaching, research and service the public.
In this atmosphere, it is more important than ever to foster strong lines of communication between all sectors in the university.
During the past several years, the UAB Faculty Senate has progressively strengthened the communication between the administration, faculty, staff and students, resulting in an overall increase in UAB’s ability to be a great 21st century university. We have worked closely with the UAB administration to ensure that faculty are represented in all of the major committees and taskforces that have been shaping the university and to ensure that these representatives report to the faculty on progress that is being made, or in some cases not being made.
Subsequent conversations between the senate leadership and UAB administrators has brought focus and often rapid resolution to many of the issues raised by these committees or by faculty in general. Faculty in the UAB Engagement Survey have asked for more transparency in the annual evaluation and in the promotions and tenure process. The senate responded, initially through its Faculty Policies and Procedures Committee — chaired by Dan Givan — with a new format for the annual faculty administrator reviews that better articulates the rationale, the process and the content of the reviews and how they should be shared, so as to effectively move the university forward.
|The UAB Faculty Senate has progressively strengthened the communication between the administration, faculty, staff and students, resulting in an overall increase in UAB’s ability to be a great 21st century university.|
The FPPC also has actively collaborated with the administration and the UA System office to ensure that UAB’s Faculty Handbook and UAB policies appropriately serve the entire UAB community. Through the senate’s Research Committee — chaired by Tapan Mehta — we have worked to move forward UAB’s research productivity and prowess, bringing together administrators and researchers on campus to examine how to best resource UAB for 21st century research, which is rapidly moving away from research carried out in isolated laboratories to research that is highly collaborative and team-based.
Our education mission also is being rapidly transformed by team teaching and the computer age. Our curriculum committees under the leadership of Lee Moradi, Karolina Mukhtar and Susan Spezzini have greatly assisted UAB in meeting the challenges of change. UAB is rather uniquely positioned for these changes, given its long history of collaborative teaching and research and an emphasis on technology advancements in everything from medicine to education.
Relative to the curriculum committees, UAB has created the universitywide Signature Core Curriculum Committee to develop a new curriculum plan, led by Senator Spezzini, one of the co-chairs. This again is a collaborative effort between the administration and the faculty, with input from students, parents and businesses.
The Governance and Operations Committee — led by Yabing Chen— has refined the senate’s operating procedures, making us better prepared to quickly respond to emerging issues. The Faculty Development Committee — led by Mike Sloane — and the Research Committee carefully assessed submissions to the 2018 Faculty Development Grant Program competition that funds research and other scholarly activities on campus.
During the past year the faculty senate has welcomed a new provost to UAB and developed an excellent collaborative relationship with her. We have also placed excellent faculty onto committees throughout campus, and they have provided strong input to the decisions that will shape the future of UAB. Especially important are the memberships on all major search committees for deans and other administrators.
Safety on campus has become an increasing issue; Las Vegas, Parkland, Florida and Santa Fe, Texas, seemed farther away until Highlands. The senate is working with the administration to ensure safety of all on campus, while still preserving its friendly and collaborative atmosphere. The senate’s Finance Committee has worked with Allen Bolton and his team to ensure that the implementation of RCM positions UAB for the century ahead.
|I am excited about the future that lies ahead for UAB, which is indeed powered by a collaborative will to reach excellence in all of our endeavors.|
The new buildings that are sprouting up all over and innovative interdisciplinary education programs that are budding on the undergraduate and graduate levels continue to make UAB a dynamic venue for research and education. This is not to say that we do not face challenges.
The senate has continued to work to make the UAB library a 21st century resource. We thank the administration for improving library resources for students and faculty this year, but we have a way to go before we have a library that truly supports 21st century research and education. Research infrastructure and space for a truly collaborative research enterprise is being built, but much work still lies ahead to meet future research goals.
Parking also will be a continuing challenge, especially as Bradley Barnes recruits ever more students to UAB (already over 21,000); but here again the senate has worked proactively with the administration to recognize the challenge as an opportunity for change.
I would like to thank all of the people who made the past year most excellent. Drs. Watts and Benoit have been consistently ready to hear the faculty concerns and to work together with them. Chris Brown, Allen Bolton and so many others have also been great partners in our efforts. I also thank Aileen McElwain, Jamey Worrell, John Mayer, Ria Hearld and all of the senators and other faculty who made our progress possible during the past year.
As I leave the chair, I am excited about the future that lies ahead for UAB, which is indeed powered by a collaborative will to reach excellence in all of our endeavors.