Board of Trustees Remarks
Mark Taggart, Chair of the Faculty
April 20, 2007
Thank you Chairman Showfety. Good morning.
It was about this time one year ago that I was elected to my term as Chair of the Faculty. Right after I won the election, I remember standing in the hallway outside of the Great Room, and Professor Henry Ferrell walked up to me to offer his congratulations. What followed was a moment that could have been taken right out of the Robert Redford movie, The Candidate, when, after he won his election to the House, he turned to one of his mentors and said: “OK, I won….What do I do now?”
Henry gave me good advice. He told me to reach out to former Chairs of the Faculty. Ask them to share their experiences while in office. Ask them to offer any insight. So I sought out my predecessors. I remember former Chair Rick Niswander telling me to be prepared for the “changing landscape” that comes with assuming the responsibilities of this office. He told me that my view of ECU must go beyond my composition studio, my classroom, and even the Faculty Senate floor, and that it must encompass the entire university. I also remember Catherine Rigsby telling me something quite similar, but with this insight: “As your view of ECU gets larger, be on the lookout for those “stand up” faculty members who will emerge to assist you in your responsibilities as Chair. She said that the great faculty are there but it is my responsibility to take notice of it, and use it effectively.
As my first term draws to a close, I recall those words, because I would like to share with you some of those faculty members who have stepped up to the plate, who have demonstrated their dedication to ECU. Here are some of those faculty, who weren’t even in my view one year ago, who have earned my appreciation and respect:
I will start with a member of the philosophy department, Professor Rodney Roberts. It would seem that the Philosophy Department at ECU is fertile ground for contributors to shared governance! Rodney served us as a member of our Agenda Committee, and he brought to those a refreshing new perspective on the roles of faculty and administration in shared governance. He compelled us to look at issues from many different angles. I appreciate the contributions he made during discussions of the Faculty Senate meeting agendas.
As you know, ECU is growing in the areas of research and creative activity. Professor Chris Riley-Tillman, from the Psychology Department, was so helpful in pointing out to me issues that junior tenure track faculty face when they need support to get their research agendas started, and to keep them going. I appreciate the input he gave to me regarding start-up funds, seed money for research, and of some of the procedures in our Research-Creative Activity Grants committee. I look forward to turning to him for more discussion on how we can support our faculty with their research and creative activities.
Wendy Sharer is a Professor in our English Department, and is Chair of our Admission and Retention Policies Committee. One of the issues that Professor Sharer brought to the Faculty Senate floor this year was a proposed plus/minus grading policy. I was deeply impressed by the thoroughness of the research she employed in regards to this policy; she studied the plus/minus policies from all of our peer and peer aspirant institutions, and several other institutions as well. She spent much time discussing this proposed policy with our student leaders. I admire her patience and thoroughness in her efforts on this issue.
Ronnie Smith is a faculty senator from the College of Technology and Computer Science. He was one of the members of the administrative review committee that evaluated one of our Deans this semester. Throughout a very difficult process that could become very anxiety inducing, Ronnie always kept his cool. His integrity throughout this review was beyond reproach. He was calm, patient, fair, and compassionate to everyone involved. I am grateful that he emerged in the right place at the right time!
These are but a few of my colleagues with whom I’ve had the great fortune to get to know this past year as Chair. Their dedication to shared governance, their efforts to make ECU a better place will serve as an inspiration for all of us who desire to serve our university and region.