Board of Trustees Remarks

Marianna Walker, Chair of the Faculty

September 25, 2009



Good Morning.  I bring you greetings from the faculty at our great university.


I would like to begin my remarks by thanking the Board of Trustees and Chancellor Ballard for making academic core functions a priority for the university budget. This insightful planning spared faculty positions and academic programs allowing the university to maintain excellence in higher education for the region and the state.


During this last two months, as the incoming Chair of the Faculty, I have been involved with “charting the course” and “setting the pace” for faculty involvement and representation in major initiatives at the university.  As I assumed my role, I found myself thinking about how to lead and motivate the faculty to undertake a number of important endeavors that are “on the table”, issues that could be perceived, by faculty, as affecting shared governance and altering traditional faculty responsibilities.  It became clear to me that setting a strong course for positive and open communication was necessary, not only between the Chair of the Faculty and senior administrators, but within the faculty and between faculty officers, faculty senators, faculty-at-large, Administration, and the Board of Trustees. As a faculty officer for the past two years (as Secretary and Vice Chair) and now in my third year as the Chair of the Faculty, I began to see a need for increased and open oral communication regarding issues currently being discussed by administration and faculty.  In contemplating the current state of university affairs, the officers and I planned a series of changes to traditional faculty senate venues including monthly open faculty forums, on both east and west campuses, and a blog entitled “Faculty Matters”, which allow all faculty to come to the table to voice their opinions and concerns regarding current faculty issues. There must be chances for these ideas and initiatives to be discussed openly where all opinions are valued resulting in a general consensus to develop and ultimately implement a plan. 


We must work together with the administration to make East Carolina University not only the best institution to obtain a college degree, but to be the best institution known for its shared governance.


 To lead the faculty, I must represent the faculty’s interests, and advise the Chancellor on all matters important to the faculty. This can be accomplished with the assistance of my wonderful leadership team and the support from the Chancellor, Provost, and Vice Chancellors. I can assure you, that these individuals have promised to uphold the role of the faculty in shared governance, a perspective that I consistently portray to the faculty. This support is valuable and needed, especially at this time when two of the most important endeavors ever in the history of the university are undertaken, “Review and revision of the Faculty Manual”, and the development of the “University Policy Manual”.  


To update you on our progress in reviewing and revising the faculty manual, the Chancellor announced a Steering Committee, jointly appointed by the Chancellor and myself to oversee this emendation of the faculty manual. In addition, a Faculty Advisory Group was also announced whose members will assist the Chair of the Faculty, the Provost, and the Faculty Senate Committees in the initial review and reworking of the faculty manual.  Through this multi-step vetting process, (involving specific appropriate University Academic Committees, the Faculty Advisor Group, the Faculty Manual Steering Committee, and the Faculty Senate)… the Faculty Manual will become a more understandable and streamlined document while preserving faculty roles and responsibilities in the spirit of shared governance at East Carolina University. 


The Faculty Manual Steering Committee will begin its work this week but the University Standing Academic committees have already begun the review of the faculty manual.  At each of the University Academic Organizational committee meetings, I reviewed the charge to revise the faculty manual and provided the members with a time line for the review and recommendations to be presented to the faculty senate. I can assure the Board of Trustees, that the faculty are taking this charge seriously and have been conscientious in their role in this huge endeavor. 


In my recent addresses to the faculty (Convocation Speech) and the Faculty Senate, I have tried to convey a positive and forward stance in accomplishing these goals. I’d like to read you a few of my remarks in these venues.


To the Faculty Senate  (9/15/2009)

… “A thorough review and emendation of the faculty manual will be a priority during this academic year. The faculty officers received this directive from the Chancellor at the end of July.  Many of the policies and procedures contained within the faculty manual are and have been the responsibilities of other divisions on campus. It is time to review such policies and to relinquish the maintenance of such administrative policies to other divisions, and ultimately to the University Policy Manual. In addition, the Chancellor has asked that the faculty manual be streamlined, which will rectify inconsistencies, eliminate redundancies, and clarify any ambiguities.”


Faculty Convocation (8/24/2009)

…”Sometimes circumstances, such as an auditor directive, dictate the need for important, thoughtful, and immediate responses.  There is a call for renewed communication and collaboration between faculty and administration. It is time for faculty to come together to ascertain ways to improve our responsiveness and shared governance procedures to advance the mission of our great university.  We have an opportunity to improve the faculty manual by making it a more understandable and streamlined document consistent with the UNC Code.”


In a recent meeting with David Brody, where the faculty manual directive was reiterated on behalf of the Board of Trustees, Mr. Brody stated “the process must be better than the person”. This simple but profound quote resonates the spirit of the faculty manual and as well as the University Policy Manual. Thank you Mr. Brody for sharing your words of wisdom and encouragement to the faculty officers that day.


We have much work to do this academic year, but it is comforting to know that we have great resources and expertise among the faculty to make this possible. We must direct our passion and experience toward this enormous endeavor. We must be positive and forward thinking in our collaboration with the administration, and work to preserve the academy and faculty rights in shared governance at East Carolina University.


As we embark on this new academic year, we need to remind ourselves that if faculty members are engaged in the process of solving problems, suggesting solutions, developing new systems, or revising existing policies and procedures, they will have ownership in the final product and outcome. Ask yourself what you can do to be part of this process. Remember, it is not only your right, but your responsibility. 


Historically, our Faculty Senate has been the strong voice and representative body for the faculty. This organization provides a solid structure enabling valuable communication, collaboration, research, and vetting between faculty and administration. We must continue to build on the important foundations and principles of shared governance established and cultivated since the beginning of our Faculty Senate, in 1965.


The faculty is the soul of the university.  Faculty need to provide direction and insight not only for our students, but for the administration and Board of Trustees on important academic issues in order to safeguard the well-being of all faculty now and in the future and to maintain The University’s process of shared governance. 

So, to the Board of Trustees, I pledge to report to you, the progress made on the review and revision of the faculty manual, and to apprise you of the role of the faculty in all university goals and missions this year. I look forward to our communication and future work together on these endeavors. Thank you in advance for all that you do for the university.


We look forward to our work together this year. Thanks also to the Academic Council, for their continued commitment to shared governance and the detailed communication that has already occurred with the faculty leadership – Thanks to Provost Sheerer, Vice Chancellor Horn, and Vice Chancellor Deirdre Mageean. We look forward to our continued dialogue.