Outgoing Remarks from W. Andrew Marcus
Senate President, 2004-2005
May 25, 2005
It is customary for the outgoing Senate President to thank the people who have made the functioning of the Senate possible, summarize the events of the past year, and take a brief moment to philosophize on the meaning of life or short of such a large goal - life as we know it in the confines of the Senate chambers and our university. I hope you will indulge me as I take some time to carry on this tradition.
The inclination in giving thanks is to simply read off the names of every Senator and University Committee member, all of whom have contributed to making the Senate function over the past year. But that would leave us here for another two hours. Several people have been absolutely critical and I want to make a special point of expressing my appreciation to them.
First and foremost, as any Senate President can tell you, the post consumes a great deal of time, much of which is taken not from the day job (which must be done to keep the pay check coming), but from family. In particular and in my case, the person who has taken the large brunt of that "lost" time is my wife, Lisa, who has been amazingly supportive of my late nights, my non-existent weekends, and my moments of irritable stress. As Lisa is here, I want to publicly acknowledge her support and thank her. With regard to future university service, she has also become the biggest advocate of that old Nancy Reagan saying "Just say No!" I will continue to rely on her to keep me unfettered and free of university service for at least another six weeks.
In the university, Gwen Steigelman, Secretary of the Senate, is my heroine of the year. It is Gwen who understands the Senate procedures and keeps we novice presidents in line to the best of her ability, always with a sense of humor and a knack for understated correction "Well, you could do thatÖ if you donít mind being investigated by the State Attorney General." Above and beyond that, Gwen has become a good friend over the year, one of the wonderful and unexpected discoveries of my time on the Senate. Thank you Gwen for being there is such a supportive role.
During meetings, Paul Simonds has been my back bone, by which I mean that I do not think I would have had the confidence to stand up here without a parliamentarian to back me up. Remember our first Senate meeting of this year when we had a motion to amend a motion that amended an amended motion? No? Good, I try to forget it too. Without Paul, I would have been at a total loss.
Linda Atkins has assiduously taken copious minutes for the Senate. That her fingers on still on her hands is testament to some inner strength that I do not possess.
To the Senate Executive Committee of Sheryl Eyster, Jon Jablonski, Peter Keyes, Ann McLucas, Carla McNelly, Lou Moses, Gina Psaki, Gwen Steigelman, Stephanie Stoll, and Nathan Tublitz I extend my thanks. You have kept me from going astray more times than I care to reveal to the Senate.
There is also a loose coalition of past-Senate Presidents, a recovery support group if you will. Although there is no formal meeting or agenda, I have gained invaluably over the year from guidance provided by Lowell Bowditch, Jim Earl, Peter Gilkey, Jeff Hurwit, Greg McLauchlan, Paul Simonds, Ann Tedards and Nathan Tublitz. Thank you all.
Finally, I have formed a wonderful friendship with Vice President Peter Keyes, whom I have relied on for insight, humor, and a New York edge that cuts right through some of the Eugenian touchy feely gobbledy gook that we are sometimes inclined to get mired in. You are fortunate to have him leading you into the year ahead.
So what is it that these individuals have helped to bring about? In the past year the Senate has evaluated, modified, and passed nine motions, not including the standard boiler plate motions such as conferral of degrees and awards, votes to approve committee memberships, and the various votes to approve course changes. These motions include:
Depending on how one parses this out, we had four motions that related to athletics (if one remembers that the arena debate sparked the changes in the planning process), three related to curriculum and grading, and five that involved changes in the governance process on campus (the Assembly and all the IAC and planning motions).
This is more motions than have been dealt with by most Senates over the last ten years, but less than some. In other words, a slightly more busy than average, but a generally ordinary year. So why bother with this listing?
In part, I want to provide this list by way of saying thank you to the Senators from 2004-2005. While the consideration of these motions may not have always been the most exhilarating experience in the world, the work these motions represent lie at the heart of how the university functions. Your willingness to engage in reviewing, altering, and voting on these motions helps keep the university responsive to changing times and needs.
The list is also a simple way to alert new Senators joining us today to the kinds of business you will be involved in. Welcome to the "party." Heads up!
Most important to me is the final number in the list: five. Five motions related to university governance ranging from campus planning to intercollegiate athletics to procedures for convening the Assembly.
This number represents the profound commitment of this body, its committees, and the university to shared governance. We are at our best as an institution when the tenets of this concept are adhered to and carried out. A listing of notable examples from this year include:
And this doesnít include the remarkable work of the Student Conduct Committee; the collaboration of the Library Committee, the Senate Budget Committee and the Provostís Office to significantly increase the base budget for the library; or the extraordinary efforts by the Interinstitutional Faculty Senate to maintain a faculty voice in the governorís push to improve higher education all of which have received considerable air time in the Senate this year.
For those of you who are new Senators, and for some of you who are "passing on," there are several notable aspects of all these successes:
First, successful collaboration takes time. The shortest of these efforts the Oregon Transfer Module moved at university governance warp speed, meaning it took about nine months from start to finish. In contrast, the development of guidelines and concrete management practices for NTTIF, has taken five years to reach its present state, is viewed by all involved to be a success story and still has a long way to go.
Second, the large, large, VERY LARGE majority of work takes place before a motion ever reaches the Senate floor. It is in the pre-Senate stage that motion are crafted, recrafted, and recrafted again as input pours in from all the significant stake holders. As just one example of a motion that had a relatively easy process, the Y Grade motion of this year was initiated by the Scholastic Review Committee and then had to be reviewed and modified by the Undergraduate Council, the Graduate Council, the Registarís Office, and the Senate Rules Committee before coming to the Senate for a relatively innocuous discussion and vote. What the Senate sees on the Senate floor is just the tip of a very large process ice berg.
As an aside for those of you who are new Senators and are wondering what the Senate President does, a primary role of the Senate President is to make sure that the appropriate committees see and review a motion before it reaches the Senate. Often the Senate Executive Committee, which meets with the Senate President between Senate meetings, aids the President in routing motions and even in suggesting new wording for motions. Because the Senate Executive makes up approximately a fifth of the voting Senators, most initiators of motions are willing to accept suggestions from this body.
Third, it is my personal opinion that there is nothing more boring on earth than successful collaboration. I have felt on several occasions this year that have I attained some weird inverse of the Peter Principle, where instead of raising to my level of incompetence, I have risen to the level where my competence is perfect. For years I have wanted to be in a large lecture hall where students are engaged, upset, asking challenging questions, stomping out of the room fractiously debating the great intellectual questions of the age. For years I have railed at my inability to accomplish this level of intellectual engagement.
But this past year I have attained a strange state where I enter a lecture hall for a Senate meeting, inhabited by the people whose opinions I most care about you - my university colleagues. Then, as I drone on, moderating the conversation, watching your eyes role up in your sockets, heads falling forward in snooze position, a light drone of pleasant snores filling the air, what do I think? Yes this is perfect!!!! If you find yourself falling asleep in the Senate meeting, the collaborative process has worked!
I will soon be entering therapy to deal with my conflicted aspirations.
Of course, the inverse of these statements hold true. When a process is fast tracked, when it does not include key stakeholders in the university governance process, then it can be VERY exciting indeed as I have learned over the last two weeks with the release of the Draft (I emphasize Draft) 5 Year Diversity Plan.
My assessment of all this? In the future, I choose boredom.
But I do not want to have my comments about the Diversity Plan end on that note. Once again the inclination to work collaboratively towards a shared solution has risen to the top at Oregon. The Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Diversity, whose formation was announced at the last meeting, has played a key role in facilitating a process that will move the development of a diversity plan forward in an inclusive and expeditious manner. I want to emphasize that the committee does not see its role as one of rewriting a diversity plan. Rather, it sees its mission as one of insuring inclusivity throughout the university as a new Executive Diversity Working Group develops the next version of a plan. I want to also acknowledge that President David Frohnmayer has played a central role in working with the ad hoc committee to insure that our commitment to diversity moves forward and to develop a process allows us to solicit input and guidance from throughout the university. Thank you President Frohnmayer. We all appreciate your commitment to working with the Senate on this critical issue.
Finally - my goal in reciting all these different experiences? Itís a simple message: As you look forward your careers as Senators, I hope you will remember the central and critical role of shared governance. This will not always be an easy thing to accomplish in the year ahead. You will be handed issues that do not have simple solutions or about which there is significant disagreement: can you spell ARENA? Not to mention the intricacies of the Student Conduct Code, salaries across campus, and future directions taken by the diversity initiative all of which are likely to be on your agenda in the future.
I suspect the inclination of any of us in this frenzied and overcommitted world is to look for the quick solution to any issue that arises. At first blush, this gives the illusion of being more efficient and effective. I have learned over my time in the Senate, however, that in the long run, having buy in and cooperation is more critical than reaching an end point on paper. As Senators, it will be up to you to insure that our tradition of shared governance continues through the contribution of your time, of your intellect, and of your good will.
I wish you the best of luck on your tasks in the year ahead. Thank you.
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