Fall Faculty Convocation Remarks
Janice Tovey, Chair of the Faculty

August 18, 2008


Welcome to the 2008-2009 Academic Year at East Carolina University.  I’d like to extend a special welcome to our new faculty, many of whom I met last week.

I’d also like to introduce some people who are ordinarily on the stage with us. First, our Interim Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs, Marilyn Sheerer. And our Interim Vice Chancellor for health Sciences, Phyllis Horns. Thank you both. Deirdre Mageean, Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Studies is unable to be here today, she’s having knee surgery. When I asked her if I could announce why she wasn’t here, she said and I quote “sure go ahead, and tell them you always knew I didn’t have a leg to stand on.”  I promise--- her words! Hope you’re back on your feet soon, Deirdre, crutches and all.

Other special guests joining us today are Pat Dunn, the Mayor of Greenville and a member of the Faculty in Health and Human Performance, and the President of the Student Government Association, Drew Griffin. I’ve had several occasions to meet with Drew and I believe he is a wonderful representative of the ECU student body.

Just a couple of additional recognitions: first thanks to 2 people in particular who have given a great deal of time and energy to their roles in the faculty Senate. Our past chair, Mark Taggart—Mark please stand. Mark has been helpful and gracious as we make our transition to new officers.  Also, I want to thank, DeeDee Glascoff who has served as vice chair of the faculty for the past 4 years. Please stand DeeDee.

Finally, allow me to introduce the other members of my leadership team: Vice Chair Marianna Walker, Secretary Hunt McKinnon, Parliamentarian Ken Wilson, And last, but certainly not least, Lori Lee, our Senate administrator.

Now—to the business of the day. It’s my pleasure this morning to introduce Chancellor Steve Ballard. [Ballard] Thank you Chancellor Ballard

One aspect of the ECU tomorrow strategic plan is our goal to be the Leadership University—providing all students with the tools to be tomorrow’s leaders for Eastern North Carolina and beyond. To make this happen, faculty must not only recognize potential and prepare our students; they need to be role models—at this time I want to recognize our faculty leaders: Please stand if you are a faculty assembly delegate, a faculty senator, an alternate or a member of a Faculty senate committee. Thank you for your leadership and your service and your investment in shared governance. Chancellor Ballard has outlined some of the institutional agenda and I would like to address in general terms, how the faculty will be involved.

As faculty our first responsibility is educating our students. The research we do, the creative activity we engage in, and the service we do to the university community, our professional communities, and the community at large—all comes back to our roles as teachers. Our own professional development makes us better teachers and enables us to offer more to East Carolina University students. Let us never forget that the reason we are here, and the reason ECU exists is teaching—teaching young men and women, or older men and women, our non traditional students—educating them to face challenges in their chosen profession and to take advantage of opportunities to excel inside and outside the university.

A part of that responsibility comes in the form of assessment. Many of you teach in programs that are certified, licensed, or accredited by an agency outside the university. You already understand the importance of program review and the assessment of student learning outcomes. And the rest of us have to understand it as well. As the chancellor just mentioned, our accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools—SACS—comes up for renewal in 5 years, and we have already begun to plan for the site visit in 2013. The steering committee was appointed last year and is meeting on a regular basis and will continue to do so until the visit, but that’s not the end. This accreditation process is a full time, all the time process for all aspects of the university and the committee consists of faculty members as well as staff and administrators.

The SACS review process requires a self study—and we as faculty have a responsibility for the review of our programs. We are responsible for establishing the goals and learning outcomes of our courses and we are also responsible for assessing those student learning outcomes. And each faculty member must be prepared to attend to the results of any review. That is, when weaknesses are revealed, when the goals are not met, we must be prepared to revise programs and courses to ensure those goals are met in the future. Staff will have their reviews, as will administrators, but faculty have responsibility for the academic review—that of programs and courses.

Not only do we have a responsibility to our students, we have a responsibility to each other, to support and guide, as well as evaluate each other. Unlike many universities across the nation that have administrators or university-wide committees make tenure decisions,  the faculty have the primary responsibility for not only recruiting and conducting searches for appropriate candidates, but the tenured faculty have the responsibility  for the reappointment, tenure and promotion decisions. These are not trivial responsibilities—our advice and our recommendations directly affect the careers of tenure track faculty and we must be fair and honest in our dealing with them. I encourage each of you to take these responsibilities seriously; consider the significance of your actions each time you review dossiers, evaluate them and discuss them with other tenured faculty. Consider mentoring tenure track faculty member, especially the newest faculty in your units. A strong mentoring program can help them to maneuver the minefield of tenure and promotion processes.  We spend a great deal of time and effort recruiting and hiring the most qualified candidates—so let’s keep them around.

The chancellor named two additional agenda times in which faculty and administrators have collaborated recently: the Carnegie classification and the Phase 2 response to UNC tomorrow. Each of these will require continued collaboration among faculty, administration, and staff.

I am committed to this collaboration, and committed to faculty involvement. Shared governance requires your commitment also—members of the senate and its committees will be discussing important issues related to our strategic plan, the UNC tomorrow response, SACS accreditation and the Carnegie classification of engaged university. We need the input from faculty and the involvement of faculty in order to accomplish the necessary tasks as we continue our commitments to our students and to our community.

Thank you.

Now, I privileged to introduce Louis Warren from the College of Education, who is the most recent recipient of the Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching.  [Warren]

Thank you all for coming. Have a great year.