In addition to teaching and research, service is also valued here at SFA. Many activities can fall into the service category at the departmental, college, or university level, and membership and activities in professional organizations are also considered service. Obviously, if you hold an office in a professional organization, this will carry more weight than simply being a member. Public service activities are service activities, as long as the service is in the faculty memberís discipline or field of expertise. Public service activities may include doing workshops or presentations at local schools, consulting activities, conducting clinics, and so on.
One of the most important parts of service at SFA is committee work. Not only does committee work count on the Faculty Activity Report, it is a good way to learn about SFA and to have input into activities and policies.
SFA has a broad-based system of councils and committees composed of faculty, staff, and students. There are three levels of committees: (1) university, (2) college, and (3) department.
Appointments of faculty and staff members to university committees are normally for terms of three years and are staggered so that approximately one-third of the appointees rotate off the committee each year. After completing a term of service, a faculty or staff member is not eligible for reappointment to the same committee for the following year. The Council and Committee Handbook contains a listing of university committees.
Faculty members who serve on university committees are usually nominated by the college deans and the executive committee of the Faculty Senate. Appointments are made by the appropriate vice president. Selections are made on the basis of the individual's interests, the needs of the committee, and maintenance of an equitable distribution of faculty and professional staff members on the various committees. The annual period of service is from September 1 to August 31. A quorum of more than 50 percent of the voting members is required to conduct business. Since all committees are advisory, they meet on an "as needed" basis.
Depending on the circumstances, membership on college committees and councils is attained through appointment by the dean, nomination/appointment by the department chair, recommendation/election of the department, or volunteering of the faculty member. College committee/council appointments may be for one, two or three years, depending upon the particular committee/council. In some cases, it is possible to serve more than one term on a college committee.
Membership on department committees is by election or by appointment of the department chair. The committee assignments are frequently changed each year. It is possible to serve on numerous department committees, college committees and one or more university committees during the same period.
Of all the university committees, the Faculty Senate is one of the most important. The Faculty Senate consists of a representative group of elected faculty from all six colleges and the library. It meets once a month during the fall and spring semesters, and reports results of its deliberations to the Board of Regents. The Senate formulates and recommends academic policy for the University, and may also consider matters of general welfare to the University. The term of membership in the Senate is three years, and upon completion of a term, no faculty member is eligible for re-election until the expiration of two academic years.
There are several ways to initiate change in your department or on campus. Faculty members may present ideas for change to members of the Faculty Senate, their colleagues, committee members, and department heads. The key to successful change is to find a sufficient number of faculty interested in a particular problem. In order to make an institutional change, you must be prepared to work with others. Your networking and committee service provide additional contacts for collaboration or advice on whom else to ask.
The most common way to initiate campus-wide change is through the Faculty Senate. One of the purposes of the Faculty Senate is to generate, discuss, and move along ideas for change. These ideas do not necessarily have to come from the Senators or their Senate committees. If you have an idea for which you believe there is adequate support, figure out the appropriate committee, talk to the chair, and see if your idea can be placed on the agenda. However, committees are sometimes unresponsive to agenda items from the outside. You may need to explain your idea to a member of the committee and ask them to introduce the item. This may or may not be successful.
In addition, you may bring the proposal to the floor of the Faculty Senate. Any faculty member can ask to put an item on the agenda by notifying their representative or the chair of the Faculty Senate. Typically, there will be some discussion and then a motion will be made to refer the item to the appropriate committee, with a date given for the committee to report. Deliberation of matters brought before the Senate proceed in committees and then on the floor of the Senate. Matters are disposed of with either up or down votes, or removal of the issue back to committee for further work. The Senate is the only body of faculty on campus which is provided an opportunity to present reports directly to the Board of Regents at each regular quarterly meeting. Policy changes are not implemented until the Board of Regents agrees.
Alternatively, a request can be sent through a chair to a dean to the appropriate higher-level administrator. At the college level, each of the colleges has a council that can consider ideas and make recommendations to the dean for implementation. At the departmental level, there might be a committee that handles changes in policy, or it might be something that the departmental faculty as a whole develops.
Many examples of positive changes here at SFA were initiated by faculty members who had ideas for new programs. Some examples are the Linked Courses Program, the SFA 101 Program, the Honors Program, Teaching Circles, and the New Faculty Orientation sessions. The reason that we're mentioning these accomplishments is that we hope they will serve as an example to all of us of what we can do here at SFA. The administration is open to ideas on how to improve SFA and that means we can make a difference. That is a powerful thing, and one that is not always apparent at other institutions.