Yesterday I had the pleasure and privilege of attending the first session for our incoming Faculty Senate. It was not only an opportunity to recognize the exceptional leadership offered this past year by Dr. Dick Evans, but a chance to hear from incoming president Dr. Reginald Green. Before moving on, I want to say thank you to Dr. Evans. Thank you for your hard work, thoughtful contributions, and exceptional leadership. Dr. Green’s introductory comments resonated so well I thought I would share them unedited. Let me emphasize a number of themes important to the future of the University of Memphis, including the great opportunities ahead, the constancy of change, the importance of collegial dialogue and debate, and the empowering nature of hope. I want to thank Dr. Green and all of our senators for their hard work and commitment to the University of Memphis. I look forward to working with you.
M. David Rudd, Provost
Faculty Senate President Reginald Green’s Inaugural Remarks
Members of the Faculty Senate,
In the words of Charles Dickens, “These are the best of times; these are the worst of times.” At the University of Memphis, the budget is being reduced by 20 million dollars, departments are being “right-sized,” a new budget model is being developed, and new leadership is in the President’s Office.
Each of these occurrences brings challenges to the faculty. However, opportunities come with each challenge. Opportunities abound to change the way we think about delivering services that will enhance the academic achievement of the students we serve, and opportunities abound to transcend the mundane with the intent of instilling greatness in our students and ourselves.
I would like to inaugurate the 2014-2015 session of the Faculty Senate with words of hope and unity. This year, let us continue to work toward unity.
The University of Memphis is one, and its future and outcomes affect all of us. If we understand this, work toward excellence, and understand that our vision is a common vision, then, shared governance becomes the logical result, even in the midst of change.
Speaking of change, other than the speed of light, and that is debatable; the only constant in the universe is change. To resist change is to suggest that our current practices and procedures are flawless, and I am confident that you would agree that they are not. Therefore, we stand to benefit from meaningful partnerships with the administration so that collectively we engage in processes and procedures that will enhance the quality of the education our students receive.
Granted, we can debate among ourselves and challenge the administration relative to select components of various changes. However, select changes appear to be imminent. Nevertheless, within those changes lie the seeds for a bright new future full of hope; it is our opportunity to seize the day and become one body in communion with each other, our students, and the administration.
Communication is an indispensable element in the human experience; effective and timely communication enables the creation of shared meaning and understanding. To internalize the powers that lie in the spoken word, in humor, and in the creative spirit, we have to foster a sense of oneness with the administration. Making these connections, we take a Unified Holistic Approach to Action. We commit to inspiring our students to find and create meaning in their lives, their work, and the lives of others in a world that sometimes appears meaningless. We commit to becoming a greater university, the greatest university in the Mid-South. We cannot have a great university without a great faculty!
Let us never underestimate the power of collective intention, nor fail to honor integrity and individuality while being committed to cohesiveness and unity. Let us always infuse our work and the work of others with the magic of enthusiasm and the joy of accomplishment so that collectively we become all that we are capable of becoming.
Therefore, our role can become one of engagement in the decision-making process, seeking to be actively engaged in reaching any decision that affects the faculty or that the faculty is responsible for implementing. To that end, the theme proposed for this year is “Connecting the Senate, the Faculty, and Administration for an Enhanced Culture of Shared Governance.”
As a Senate, our focus must be on evidence-based reasons for the positive actions we seek from the administration. Let us become even further engaged and take a proactive stance, rather than a reactive one. Let us bring ideas to the table in a timely manner, ideas that demonstrate to the University, community, and the nation that as a Senate, we are making a positive difference in global education. In essence, the University faculty must be able to see and appreciate our positive and proactive work.
One major task that lies before us is the identification of one to three goals that we will strive to achieve. Then, we need to put an accountability system in place to measure our progress toward their achievement. This can become our first order of business in our orientation meeting scheduled at the beginning of the fall semester.
It is my hope that you will share the vision “Connecting the Senate, the Faculty, and Administration for an Enhanced Culture of Shared Governance.” In the words of Dr. Viktor Frankl, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms-to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”