‘Trust’ stressed at faculty meeting

By Sara Tirrito
Staff Writer

Dr. Elizabeth Davis, executive vice president and provost, visited Faculty Senate at its meeting Tuesday night and engaged in a discussion centered on the line of communication from the provost through to the deans, to the department chairs, and then to the faculty.

Although Dr. Ray Cannon, chair of Faculty Senate and mathematics professor, said he did not know of any particular recent communicative issues, he said communication is always a topic of concern for the Faculty Senate.

“We’re always concerned because communication’s never perfect,” Cannon said. “People do just kind of worry about communication, and that’s something that can always be improved.”

The discussion helped to build a greater level of trust between the faculty and administration, Cannon said.

“It [the level of trust] was not high several years ago and I think that that is improving a lot, and I think the provost coming and being as open as she was to questions and answering them as frankly as she did ­— I think that does a lot,” Cannon said. “So I don’t think it’s a particular issue so much as it is a feeling that we’re really getting together as a university, headed in the same direction, which hasn’t always been the case.”

Dr. Todd Still, associate professor of Christian Scriptures and a member of the executive council of the faculty senate, said he believes the relationship between the faculty senate and the present administration is “decidedly positive.”

“I think there is a mutual respect and understanding for our various roles and contributions to the university, and we hold both the president and the provost, the two with whom we are in the most consistent contact, in the highest of esteem,” Still said. “I think that the relationship that we have with the president and the provost, the central administration is one of mutual warmth and reciprocity.”

Dr. Barry Harvey, professor in the great texts program in the Honors College, gave a report to the Faculty Senate about the incoming freshman class.

The class’ SAT and ACT scores are considerably higher than last year’s class, Cannon said. He said he could only speculate about the reason for the increase.

“As an academic I hate to think it, but maybe due to basketball and football. Kids like the full college experience,” Cannon said. “I mean Rice gets good students, Harvard gets good students, but we’ve generated a lot of excitement in the general atmosphere. As an academic, I like to think that they’re coming here because our math department’s really great, but … I think that might have something to do with it, but I don’t know. That’s pure speculation on my part.”

Senate elections were also postponed until April 5 and 6.