State of Senate

September 9, 2016
Presented by: Past President for 2015-2016 Dora E. Saavedra

President Morgan, Fellow Senators, and Guests:

It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as the Founding President of the UTRGV Faculty Senate from November 6, 2015- April 29, 2016. I want to thank the Faculty Senate Executive Committee of 2015: Bobbette Morgan, President-Elect, Volker Quetschke, Parliamentarian, Wendy Lawrence-Fowler---our secretary who worked tirelessly to provide us minutes, and the College Representatives—James Boudreau, COBE; Michelle Alvarado, University College, Wilma Mealer, COHA, Arden Dingle, School of Medicine, Britt Haraway, COFA, and last but not least, our representative from the University Library, Kelly Leu. Thank you all.

I also want to publicly acknowledge Dr. Ala Qubbaj, Vice Provost of Faculty Affairs and Diversity whose office graciously provides our half time liaison, Vanessa Ceballos; who also helped make travel funds available to reimburse Senators for travel to meetings; and finally, who has generously provided hospitality lunches for us several times, including today. Thank you, Ala!

During that brief 6 month period we were in session, the Senate established the foundation for Shared Governance at UTRGV. 73 Senators were elected to serve as departmental representatives from the Brownsville, Harlingen and Edinburg campuses. Two positions remained unfilled, but those departments had at least one representative.

The Faculty Senators identified issues, compiled a White Paper and initiated conversations with President Guy Bailey, Provost/EVPAA Havidán Rodríguez and other administrative officials throughout the University. We recommended faculty representatives for committees and councils to serve on an interim basis until the committees are decided upon. Included in that was our recommendation to have Mark Kaswan and Linda Matthews, as our strong faculty representatives on the Strategic Planning Committee. Thank you Linda for your report today and your service!

One of the most important accomplishments of last year, the Senate itself modelled shared governance through robust debate and discussion of issues facing our students, staff, departments, colleges and University.

The Senate White Paper, presented to President Bailey emphasized the need for partnering with all stakeholders (students, staff and faculty) in order to improve the 2nd year experience of the entire University community.

Your voices were heard. Your voices will continue to be heard. You have made history. The Faculty Senate, and each and every one of you Senators—from AY 2015 and now from AY 2016, have established a precedent. We will speak truth to power; we will partner with others to improve UTRGV through the difficult times, and we will “inspire the academic world” with our ability to use conflict as an opportunity to clarify, define, dialogue and resolve our differences in a professional and respectful way.

Under the leadership of Bobbette Morgan, a recognized teacher, scholar and leader with 4 years of experience as President of the UTB/TSC Faculty Senate, the 2016-2017 Faculty Senate will accomplish much. Naysayers said a Senate with 70+ representatives would be impossible to manage. You all have shown everyone that the “impossible” may take a little bit more time, but the end result will be one that improves the lives of all at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley!

Congratulations Faculty Senate of 2015-2016!

Go forward and accomplish great things,
Senators for 2016-2017!