Tufts University Faculty Senate convened by video conference on Wednesday for its second meeting of the academic year to consider the adoption of standing committees and discuss its objectives.
Unlike the Tufts Community Union (TCU) Senate, which draws its representatives from Tufts’ two undergraduate schools at the Medford/Somerville campus, the faculty senate has members scattered across Tufts’ eight schools at the Medford, Grafton and Boston campuses. Although the session was officially scheduled for Grafton, video feeds from each campus allowed the senators to convene remotely, according to Jeswald Salacuse, a professor at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and the president of the senate.
The session began with a round of applause for newly-elected senator Anne Mahoney, a senior lecturer in classics, who filled an additional seat created for the School of Arts and Sciences. This seat was created after Tufts’ acquisition of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, according to Professor of Economics Lynne Pepall, vice president of the Senate. Mahoney’s addition brings the faculty senate’s total number of representatives to 30.
Although Tufts’ Board of Trustees approved the faculty senate’s bylaws last semester, the body is still very much in development. The session’s central issue was a motion to establish standing committees on Nominations, Faculty Affairs, Budget Planning and Development, Research and Scholarship and Educational Policy and Affairs, according to Pepall.
“[These committees] are charged to engage with University issues and policies in specific areas relevant to shared governance,” Pepall told the Daily in an email.
The faculty senate unanimously adopted the motion and then moved into a discussion of the College of Special Studies (CSS), a branch of the university system that historically served as a bridge between Tufts and Tufts-affiliated, but not administered, schools including pre-acquisition SMFA, according to one senate member. But those relationships have largely dissipated and left the CSS, and thus Tufts‘ cross-institutional degree program framework, in uncertain territory, the member said.
Pepall said that such programs were of great value to Tufts.
“I think that degree programs are really what keep schools together,” she said. “We want to work together to strengthen those.”
Senators ultimately referred the issue to the newly-established Educational Policy and Affairs standing committee. Salacuse explained to the senate that any decision by the committee, which had not yet been assigned any members, would be considered by the full faculty senate before being forwarded to Tufts administrators.
Salacuse told the Daily that the faculty senate is a consultative organization that centralizes diverse faculty opinions from across the university system. As a result, the issues it considers cross boundaries between schools.
“The issues where [the senate] is concerned are the university-wide issues that need to be talked about,” he said.
Wednesday’s session closed with a discussion of the senate website. The Senate concluded that more work and research are needed on the senate’s website.