West Virginia University’s Faculty Senate used Monday’s meeting to take a long look at the University’s future.

The Senate, among other maneuvers, selected a new chair-elect, passed a resolution urging the administration to take a fresh look at faculty salaries and benefits and listened to Provost Michele Wheatly’s brief update on the Strategic Planning Council.

Lesley Cottrell, an associate professor of pediatrics, was chosen at the next Faculty Senate chair-elect. She will assume her chair-elect duties on July 1, when Alan Stolzenberg becomes chair. Her term as chair begins in July 2011.

After much discussion, the Senate also approved a resolution that urges the administration to raise faculty salaries, explore new options for health insurance, increase matching contributions to retirement funds, develop a clear policy for parental leave and provide domestic partnership benefits. The resolution grew out of the faculty’s desire for salaries and benefits to be comparable to peer institutions, both in the state and across the nation. Currently at the main campus, faculty salaries rank low relative to West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission peer institutions.

The Senate hopes the resolution will be considered when the Strategic Planning Council begins meeting May 21. The planning council will be charged with collecting input from the WVU family and using that to set goals across all campuses and disciplines.

Wheatly expects the council will do much of its work in the next several months and have a plan ready for discussion and refinement in the fall, at which time she plans to call on the Faculty Senate to help implement the plan.

In other business, the Senate:

  • Heard an end-of-the-year report from President James P. Clements. He outlined the recent accomplishments of the faculty, staff and administration and offered challenges for the upcoming year. Among the challenges: Pinpointing new sources of revenue for the University, addressing the large number of retirement-eligible employees and updating the PRT.
  • Approved several course and curriculum changes.
  • Heard a presentation by Terry Miller, the WVU veterans’ advocate. Miller encouraged the Senate to help veteran students adjust to what he calls “the new normal” by becoming aware of their experiences and common problems and addressing them through his office or departmental contacts. Eventually, Miller would like to implement a network of veterans-only classes to help these students better adjust to campus life.

The Senate will meet again on June 14.



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