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The GW Hatchet

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Wine bar on 2200 Penn opens doors
By Ella Mitchell, Contributing News Editor • June 14, 2024

CPS gains Faculty Senate representation after years of consideration

The+College+of+Professional+Studies+office%2C+located+on+the+third+floor+of+the+University+Student+Center.
Hatchet File Photo
The College of Professional Studies office, located on the third floor of the University Student Center.

The College of Professional Studies will have representation in the Faculty Senate for the first time next academic year, which faculty said will further shared governance.

John Warren, a professor and the director of publishing at CPS, and Scott White, an associate professor and director of cybersecurity, were elected as nonvoting delegates after the senate and the Faculty Assembly voted to grant the school representation last year. Warren and White said the new positions will help raise awareness of CPS’s role at the University as a peer to other schools and colleges, build partnerships between CPS and other GW programs and join other faculty in advocacy for shared governance — the role of faculty to consult the University on decision making.

In April 2023, faculty senators passed resolution 23-8 to instruct the Faculty Assembly, a meeting of University-wide faculty, to add two nonvoting delegates from CPS to the senate through the Faculty Organization Plan, the document that outlines the faculty’s role in decision making at the University. The resolution, introduced by Guillermo Orti, a faculty senator and the chair of the Professional Ethics and Academic Freedom Committee, states that senators recognize the “substantial” contribution CPS brings to the University and the senate shouldn’t bar CPS from having representation because it lacks tenured faculty.

“CPS is the only school without senate representation for no other reason than it has no tenure track and that is by design,” said Orti at the April 2023 meeting. “So what we’re doing right now is depriving one school entirely from being in the senate.”

Before faculty amended the FOP, the plan stated that faculty needed to have tenure to serve on the senate, with an exception for the School of Medicine and Health Sciences since many faculty from the schools do not have tenure. The delegates from CPS and the senators from SMHS must have three years of service to the University and hold the role of associate professors or higher to serve on the senate.

The new guidelines on CPS representation set up two nonvoting delegates for the school on the senate and a nonvoting seat on the Faculty Senate Executive Committee — where each school with senate representation has one seat — which Warren will serve on. The CPS senators and other CPS representatives on other Senate committees will still be able to vote.

The amendment to the Faculty Organization Plan states faculty will revisit the voting rights of CPS delegates three years after the first delegates are in the senate.

Natalie Houghtby-Haddon, the associate director for the Center for Excellence in Public Leadership in CPS and co-chair of the senate’s Professional Ethics and Academic Freedom committee, said the idea of CPS representation in the Faculty Senate among senators and PEAF committee members emerged during the 2021-22 presidential search. She said discussions about representation began in the senate when the Faculty Consultative Committee, a group of faculty members representing GW schools with senate representation who advise the Board of Trustees during presidential searches, included representatives from CPS since it is an academic unit of GW despite their lack of senate representation.

“That was when all the dots began to connect with my colleagues on PEAF, from other schools and colleges to say, ‘Oh, yeah, that doesn’t make sense, how can we make it possible for CPS to have a seat at the table?’” Houghtby-Haddon said.

Houghtby-Haddon said when the PEAF committee introduced the resolution to add CPS representation to the senate, it called for CPS to have a voting member on the senate Executive Committee. She said when senators were voting on the resolution, they amended the Executive Committee seat to a nonvoting position due to concerns that the CPS representative would not speak out against administration out of fear of retribution from University, like losing their job, since their lack of tenure does not protect their jobs.

“The Faculty Senate was concerned about the lack of tenure and the ability, the freedom, the willingness to take stands potentially, that would contradict the administration and policy or whatever and that the CPS faculty would not be protected by tenure,” Houghtby-Haddon said.

She added that the Executive Committee also hears disputes over tenure decisions and those only tenured faculty can vote on those decisions, so the CPS member would have to abstain if they were given voting power on the committee. She said when the University created CPS in 2001, it decided faculty at the school would not have tenure to be flexible in hiring and create degree programs that respond to the “changing needs of the marketplace.”

Houghtby-Haddon said the three-year review of CPS’ voting power gives time for senators and trustees to review their position on whether CPS faculty should have tenure.

Warren said he wanted to become a faculty senator after enjoying his service on senate committees like the Libraries Committee, which any faculty member can join. He said he enjoys building relationships across GW that benefit his program and CPS as a whole.

“I think a lot of people at GW, even faculty, even some senior faculty, don’t really know it exists or don’t know what it does or how it’s different,” Warren said. “So part of it is just being involved and building relationships.”

Warren said he hopes CPS’ representation in the senate will bring more academic collaboration between CPS and other colleges and programs at GW. He said the variety of programs in CPS like the publishing program allows for more connections with different areas of the University like the English department and student journals.

Warren said it is a “good time” for CPS to have a voice at GW since CPS is under the new leadership of Dean Liesl Riddle and is developing a strategic plan at the same time the University is developing its own.

“There’s a lot of change going on, there’s a lot of new leadership at GW too, with a relatively new president, a relatively new provost,” Warren said. “It’s a good time, I think, to be involved in these initiatives.”

White said he wanted to get involved in the senate, after his service on a faculty governing body while he was a professor at Drexel University before coming to GW in 2016. He said he also wanted to join because he believes shared governance  is “very important” to a university’s academic environment.

“I think what makes our particular environment so strong is that we do have this common mission here at the University and we share governance toward that common mission,” White said. “I think that’s imperative, I think we must continue it in universities.”

White added that the new guidelines for CPS representation allows the school to have an equal voice in the senate as other schools and colleges at the University.

“We’re not a college with an asterisk, our degrees that we provide are the same degrees as Foggy Bottom students, day students,” White said. “I think it’s important that as a college that we hold similar footing to our peers.”

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