May 2011: Faculty Senate Update

May 24, 2011

By Dr. Jim Burdine, Speaker

Good day! My name is Jim Burdine, and I serve as speaker of the Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) Faculty Senate.

Dr. James Burdine

Dr. Jim Burdine

I am a professor at the TAMHSC-School of Rural Public Health, was the founder of the Center for Community Health Development and currently am the assistant dean for public health practice. I’ve been with the TAMHSC for almost 10 years and before that spent 20 years in hospital management and consulting. I tell you all that so as you read my updates on the Faculty Senate you can understand my perspective and biases.

I assumed the role of speaker from Lynne Opperman at the close of our January meeting. As I said at that time, I am acutely aware of the remarkable job my predecessors did in developing the Faculty Senate and, in particular, cultivating a relationship with the health science center’s leadership. That relationship has opened the door for the Faculty Senate to be very meaningfully involved in the review of TAMHSC policies that – in some cases – fundamentally influence the roles and expectations of faculty.

For example, as part of that review process, a new Grievance Committee was formed last fall. I wish it were not the case, but that group already has been involved in helping to address a faculty grievance. Other policies we will be reviewing this spring include an immunization policy and policies related to emeritus status, posthumous degrees and several others. On the topic of policy reviews, the Faculty Senate has been very active in the revision of the TAMHSC’s policies on email and privacy. I’d like to thank the many senators and faculty members who provided reviews and comments.

In addition to monthly conference calls with the Faculty Senate Executive Committee and bi-monthly senate meetings, we also meet twice a year for an all-day, face-to-face meeting to allow time to address topics in greater detail. The January meeting mentioned previously was one of the face-to-face events. Part of that agenda was a briefing from Jenny Jones, vice president for government affairs. Jones provided us with an up-to-the-minute report of activities of the Texas Legislature just as it was going into session.

This spring, we are also finishing an update of the Faculty Senate bylaws – not the most exciting work but essential to maintaining an effective organization.

My intent is to provide regular brief updates of the Faculty Senate’s activities. Either directly or through your component’s faculty senators, I would like to express my willingness to talk with any faculty member within the TAMHSC about challenges, issues, opportunities and needs they feel the Faculty Senate may be able to address.

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