Question Posed to David Fenner, FA president
Under the UNF Constitution and as stated on the FA’s website, the UNF Faculty Association is the core of UNF’s shared governance structure. Thus, it was extraordinary to hear on from the FA president on May 9, 2019, that the UNF President will no longer be presenting a President’s Report to the Faculty Association and that in general terms neither will the UNF Vice Presidents. In both instances the UNF President and VPs will not attend meetings of the FA and only the Provost will attend and answer questions. Given this extraordinary change, can the Faculty Association President comment on his agreement with this change and describe the impact that this change will have on the Faculty Association as the core of UNF’s shared governance structure. Can the FA president also share his view on whether he believes the President hosting so-called “jam sessions” in colleges is a comparable substitute for the President’s attendance, Report, and responses to questions brought forth by the Faculty Association.
Answer from the floor by David Fenner, FA President
I want to say two things. The first thing I want to say is about the lunches: I’ve always taken the lunches—as I think most of you have, too—as a gift. John Delaney started this six years ago. It’s been a blessing not only because we’ve had the opportunity for camaraderie and the opportunity to be fed, but also it allowed us to make certain we had a quorum to get faculty association business done. We had five years of lunches under John, and we have had a year’s worth of lunches under President Szymanski. I take those to have been a gift. What money Shari is going to continue to give us for lunches, I also take that to be a gift. The only concern I have is to make certain we have enough faculty who are participating on a regular basis to make sure that we can do the shared governance part of our work, that we can handle the curriculum and the legislative calendar and ensure that faculty voice is heard.
The second thing to say is that when I was in the graduate school, I had an opportunity to interact with Coggin in a serious way for the first time. I realized then that Coggin has a different kind of administrative structure that many of the other colleges. For a number of years under at least two deans, there was a relationship where the dean was very outward facing; the dean was interested in connecting with the community, was interested in fundraising, was really looking outside, was looking at the horizon—if we could use the captain of a ship metaphor. And the Associate Dean was responsible for running the day-to-day matters of the college. That was certainly the case with Bobby Waldrup. I think it might’ve been the case with Jay Coleman and Jeff Steagall when they were there. That was a model that I was not used to. You know that our president comes out of a business school background and so I believe he is giving us a new model and that new model is more like a business school model where he is going to be outward facing. He’s going to be looking at the legislature, he’s going to be looking at fundraising and it’s really going to be the provost who takes on the duties of being sort of master of the ship, to extend the metaphor, who is really going to be responsible for the day-to-day operations. So an awful lot of what I’m saying is resting on the hope and expectation that Simon Rhodes will be brilliant and will connect with us in very close, intimate ways.