New UI Faculty Senate president takes over

BY CASSIDY RILEY | MAY 01, 2013 5:00 AM

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Associate Professor Erika Lawrence said she will promote communication among all members of the faculty and administration as she begins her role as thepresident of the Faculty Council and Faculty Senate.

At the Faculty Senate meeting on Tuesday, Professor Linda Snetselaar officially passed the gavel to Lawrence.

“I think that Erika has a wonderful ability to help all sides look at a situation so that a solution [is possible,]” Snetselaar said. “I think that ability will shine through as issues come up.”

She said communication is one of the most essential parts of the job in order to ensure transparency between the faculty and administration. Faculty Senate officers meet frequently with the Office of the Provost, other administrators, and faculty to keep lines of communication open.

“We all try to understand one another and all be on the same page, and I think that’s one of the ways that makes shared governance work,” she said. “We have, I think, the perfect situation for faculty and administration to work together and find the perfect fit in terms of solutions. You end up with a university that’s very successful.”

Lawrence said she sees her job as president to have three aspects.

“My primary role is to really listen to and advocate for faculty,” she said. “The second task is to serve as a liaison between the faculty and administrators. I think the third job I have is to really communicate the importance of the University of Iowa faculty and the contributions they make to those outside the university.”

She said she sees her time as president as a chance to give back to the faculty.

“We’re not taught how to toot our own horns, and I think sometimes that’s a really important thing to do, to let people know this is how we’re contributing to the students and to the state of Iowa,” she said.

In addition to the appointment of the new president, Clinical Associate Professor Alexandra Thomas was selected as vice president, and Associate Professor David Cunning was elected secretary.

“I’m eager to support our faculty and allow them to achieve their best work,” Thomas said.

Thomas ran for vice president under five platform points. She wants to word toward increasing support for researching, teaching, and service at the university, support for the tenure track as the backbone of academia, improve faculty satisfaction and retention, and raise the stature of the university nationally.

Cunning said he looks forward to continuing the communication between the faculty and the Faculty Senate as well as looking for more ways the faculty can better serve the state.

“[Talking about what we’ve already done] is really a thing that we need to do, but I don’t want to say we’re doing all the things we could be doing,” he said.

Lawrence said she is excited to work with the new officers and that they are well-qualified.

“They’re all able to take a campus wide view,” she said. “Your job as an officer isn’t just to advocate for faculty within you college but to advocate for faculty among all the colleges.”

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