CLAS pushes back deadline for committee nominations

GVL / Sheila Babbitt
Students listen to others speak at the Student Senate meeting on January 11th, 2017.

GVL / Sheila Babbitt Students listen to others speak at the Student Senate meeting on January 11th, 2017.

Devin Dely

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Grand Valley State University has recently extended the nomination deadline for CLAS representatives on different GVSU faculty committees in an effort to fill all the available seats and attract the right faculty members for each position. The deadline, which was originally supposed to be last week, has been extended until Friday, Jan. 26, at noon. 

There are well over a dozen different committees, encompassing such topics as writing skills, faculty salary and budget, and CLAS curriculum. CLAS faculty member Michael Henshaw weighed in on the importance of individuals becoming a part of these committees. 

“Faculty governance is a responsibility for faculty, and this is our obligation to participate in governing collectively,” Henshaw said. “It’s a part of our job. I think there are benefits: It gives you an opportunity to understand the university outside of your unit. Each unit (within CLAS) often has its own culture; they do things very differently, and when you step out of that unit, you get an even bigger picture of how things are done across the university.”

Henshaw is the chair of the faculty council that organizes faculty governance within CLAS. According to him, the delay of the nomination process is nothing new and should not be viewed as a concern. 

“This has happened pretty much every election,” Henshaw said. “We could just open it (the nomination period) for two weeks from the start, but opening it for a week and then extending it gives me an opportunity to remind people that this is still there and ongoing, and to go look at it if they haven’t done so. I’ve been on for three years, and I don’t think there’s one (election) that didn’t extend that second week.”

However, if the nomination process does not move forward, it could be problematic. According to Henshaw, seats have the potential to go unfilled, leading to underrepresentation within committees, though he says it is unlikely that will happen. 

“If you’re missing perspectives within a committee and you try to draft a document or policy and haven’t calculated how, say, the arts work, for example, they’re going to say, ‘Wait, no, that doesn’t work for us,’ and then you have a problem,” Henshaw said. “At the college level, the policies and decisions you make are trying to account for the very diverse ways that all the units in the college operate. 

“Some spots are harder to fill than others, though. Some of the ones that have an especially heavy workload can be more difficult to get all the nominations all the time.”  

Henshaw spoke more about the nomination process for the CLAS committees, as well as faculty eligibility.

“The process starts in the fall,” Henshaw said. “The faculty council determines what seats need to be filled again in the coming year, and we create a nominations ballot that shows all those opportunities. All tenure-track CLAS faculty are eligible to be nominated. They can nominate themselves and they can nominate each other, but the nominated person has to approve their nomination for the seat. Then we can prepare a ballot for the vote with all the nominations that were approved and are eligible.”

In the coming weeks, the nomination process will be over and faculty will vote on members for each position. Henshaw expressed his hope that all positions will be filled, adding that members of the CLAS committees get a chance to “have real effects on the university through policy.”