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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Service Statement

My main service responsibility in recent years have been my presidency of the University Senate. I served for a year as President-Elect (2013-14) and a year as President (2014-15). Both years I was a member of FACEX and SENEX. Ironically, when I first was University Senate President-Elect, the major issue before the Faculty Senate was Post-Tenure Review, and I now have the pleasure of going through this process myself, having helped in a small way to make this procedure fair and effective. The following year, I headed up a task-force to devise a Social Media Procedure, in order to implement the KBOR Social Media Policy. This was an arduous and contentious process, requiring meetings over the summer, and resulted in a final version that was acceptable to both the University Senate and the administration.

In my service for governance, I developed several capabilities that I lacked before: I learned to speak to the media, to negotiate between conflicting parties, and to lead large, sometimes contentious meetings of rowdy faculty members. I also developed expertise on due process, first amendment, and academic freedom issues. My leadership style in governance was largely conciliatory. By this I mean that I devoted most of my energy to resolving problems in a collaborative spirit rather than seeing the university administration as an adversary. I was somewhat frustrated that some of colleagues on the Senate were more interested in painting the administration in a bad light than in reaching the best solution to the problem at hand. I don’t know whether my approach is the best one for every situation, but I did learn something about my own talents in the process.

Outside the university, I serve as a reviewer of tenure cases (one or two in a typical summer) and a peer reviewer for a few scholarly journals. I am not very active in professional organizations at the present time, but might do more in the future.

At the departmental level, I have a variety of responsibilities. As one of the few Full Professors in the Department, I head up the Promotions Committee for Associates who want to be promoted to this rank. I am also frequently asked to put lead tenure and third-year meetings for the Assistant Professors and to write summaries of their research accomplishments. The fact that more than one Chair of the Department has asked me to do this means that I must have some ability in this area, runnning meetings equitably and professionally and writing concise and convincing material for my colleagues’ promotions. I have chaired the last two search committees for Departmental Chair. I am also asked to observe my colleagues’ teaching with some frequency, and I have been a mentor to junior colleagues, whether formally or informally. It is clear, then, that I am a respected senior colleague. I see no significant obstacles for my service. I am not particularly ambitious in this area, and am happy to have it be 20% of my allocation of effort. While I was Senate President, it was significantly more than that, so I am pleased to re-commit 80% of my effort to teaching and research. My strengths on the area of departmental service include graduate studies, evaluation, mentoring, and tenure and promotion paperwork. I would be happy to continue with these activities in a collegial spirit. I have not been department chair, since there has always been someone more capable who was willing to do the job, so I have been happy to help out any way I can on the sidelines.

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