The School of Nursing will gain a senator in the Faculty Senate, the body decided Friday, after a charged meeting in which members clashed over a proposal that would allow each of the University’s 10 schools to be proportionately represented.
The addition of a nursing school senator was approved after the defeat of a second proposal, introduced by economics professor Donald Parsons, which called for a complete reevaluation of how the University’s schools are represented within the advocacy group.
Parsons’ proposal would have added three new senators to represent the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences and one new senator for the GW School of Business, evening out the ratio between tenure-track faculty and senate composition. One senator from the Graduate School of Education and Human Development – which Parsons believes is overrepresented in the senate because of its relatively small full-time faculty – would be removed and tacked on to the School of Nursing.
“It just makes our position even more intolerable and increases our underrepresentation significantly,” Anthony Yezer, an economics professor in the Columbian College and supporter of Parsons’ proposal, said.
The Columbian College, which accounts for nearly 40 percent of the University’s tenure-accruing faculty, constitutes only about 30 percent of the senate body, Parsons argued.
The Faculty Senate, which holds authority over matters pertaining to academics, relies on members to relay the interests of faculty across the University.
The School of Nursing, established in May 2010, will receive its own senator despite having only 13 tenured and tenure-track professors on its faculty – the second smallest tenure-track population of any school after the College of Professional Studies.
“If you’ve got a new school, they need at least one representative on the senate,” finance professor Theodore Barnhill said at the meeting.
The move to bring about proportional representation in the Senate was first introduced by Parsons two years ago after the Faculty Senate passed a resolution granting the Elliott School of International Affairs additional senators within the body.
Parsons’ efforts were curbed after the senate concluded that equal distribution was more effective since the body can only recommend – and not actually create – policy like a congress would.
“As a body that recommends, we basically have influence because we are well-distributed faculty,” Charles Garris, who voted against Parsons’ proposal, said. “When we arrive at a consensus, the administration has traditionally respected our opinions because we have a broad base of consensus.”
Parsons and Yezer were the only senators who voted for the reintroduced proposal Friday.
“I was a little disappointed that nobody spoke up,” Parsons said. “The senate is quite comfortable having CCAS not represented according to its weight.”