March 12, 2010
Even after a second call for candidates, University of Saskatchewan Council is still having trouble filling out its membership.
Nominations close March 15 in an extended effort to fill the 21 positions up for election this year. According to the Office of the University Secretary, nine members were acclaimed in the first call.
For Stephen Urquhart, associate professor in the Department of Chemistry, the response to the election has been disappointing. “I’ve enjoyed being on Council most of the time,” said Urquhart, who was acclaimed for his second three-year term in the first round of nominations. The experience has provided a better perspective on the university “and my role in it. It gives me a sense of how I can contribute.
“Faculty do need to be involved in the academic governance process,” he said, but that must be balanced against “the everyday demands of the job. If we’re in our labs or our offices working, we’re not really articulating that which is important to the institution. It’s important to define the academic agenda, but we have to be there to do it.”
Finding time for governance commitments amid the regular workload may be one of the factors keeping faculty members from stepping up at nomination time, according to Claire Card, Council chair. This is particularly true for young faculty “when tenure and promotion trumps all other activity.” It might also be the case that “people feel that others maybe are better positioned to answer for them.”
The Council agenda has been relatively controversy-free, she added, “which keeps us a little bit off the radar too.” That, and what she described as planning fatigue, may explain the apparent lack of interest despite the hard work of Council’s nominating committee.
Card suggests an exercise like “refreshing” the university mission statement might reinvigorate interest in Council. “I sometime feel that it might be time to change things up a bit to create a more meaningful experience … We might also consider, as departments, having people just take their three-year term (on Council).”