Vitali named to Interim Faculty Council, part of Chancellor's state system redesign

Category:  News
Friday, November 1st, 2019 at 11:50 AM

Association of Pennsylvania State College & University Faculties (APSCUF) chapters across the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) recently hosted elections for a faculty union representative who will sit on the newly formed Interim Faculty Council (IFC).

The council is an element of “Phase Two” in Chancellor Daniel Greenstein’s ongoing state system redesign, which launched the first phase in 2018, shortly after Greenstein was elected. It aims to create a system where universities can, according to Greenstein’s “State of the System” address in January 2019, “organize to leverage their enormous collective operating scale, to utilize their tremendous collective talent in ways that extend and expand opportunities for all.”

Edinboro University hosted its elections for IFC in late September. Four candidates were on the ballot. They were:
1. Qun Gu
2. Michelle Vitali
3. Lisa Joyce
4. David Pugh

There were no requirements that candidates had to meet other than being a faculty member at Edinboro University. APSCUF conducted the election, but candidates did not have to be members of the union to participate in the election, which took place online. Each candidate submitted a paragraph proposal on why they should be elected to the council and faculty voted on whom they believed would best serve in the role.

Edinboro faculty union president Dr. Marc Sylvester announced Michelle Vitali as the selection in an Oct. 3 email. Vitali resides in the Art Department.

“The interim faculty council was established by the state system of higher education and Chancellor Greenstein, [and] the goal of the council is to elect a representative from each of the state system campuses to serve on the council,” Sylvester said in an interview after the election.

Vitali also spoke on the selection.
“I’ve felt the need for this council the entire time I’ve been here. I’ve been at Edinboro for 20 years, and I’ve always thought that it was a real problem that there were no faculty voices in the room,” she explained.

“I’ve also felt some of the real problems of not having faculty in the room, because we suffer the consequences when we have no voice in the room. There are many important parts of a university, of course, but where the rubber really hits the road is with the faculty and the student interactions, and when we have no say in that, it doesn’t really make sense to me, as a system.”

According to Sylvester, the IFC has three primary functions:

1. To select three voting members from the committee to serve on a newly formed board of governor’s (BOG) commission on shared governance.
2. To select someone from the IFC council who will act as a communication channel between the council and the BOG.
3. To act as faculty representation in BOG discussions about issues that relate to faculty at the PASSHE universities.

Function three is the primary reason for the formation of the council. Before the creation of this committee, according to Vitali, faculty rarely made it into the BOG meetings. Sylvester backed this up, saying, “On the faculty end, the establishment of this committee is a big move on the part of PASSHE to bring faculty into that venue where very important decisions about our universities and the systems are made.” The venue that Sylvester speaks of is the BOG meetings, the most recent of which took place on Oct. 14-15.

The 14 representatives elected Jamie Phillips of Clarion University as the chair of the IFC.

The chair of the IFC is responsible for representing that committee during the Board of Governors meeting. Additionally, the committee as a whole is responsible for picking three individuals who will serve on a more established shared governance committee as a part of the BOG.

“Shared governance is making sure that a variety of stakeholders participate in decision making for things that ultimately impact the governance of the system. This phase of the process is centered on faculty shared governance, but at a university, obviously there are more stakeholders,” said Sylvester.

“Our job,” Vitali said, “is to take our collective voices and send them up to the state level and make sure that those representatives know what we think, and also to send information in the opposite direction as well.”

The committee is expected to exist for a year, with a proposed dissolution date in the fall of 2020.

“If they have their structure in place before that date, then the group will be dissolved before then,” Sylvester said.

Tags: news, passhe, apscuf

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