This story in the Chronicle just cracked me up.
Apparently, the faculty at University of Missouri in Kansas City (UMKC) is so reluctant to serve that they have created a computer-based system relying on faculty to "opt out" of serving on the senate. As anyone who has ever seen an "opt out" system in place (think about parent notification for sex ed), it works because it relies on people forgetting to follow up. Is that how you want to pick your representatives? The woman who forgot to check her email, or the guy who couldn't get the computer system to work? Because the latter is how the members of UMKC picked the Chair of their Faculty Senate--an assistant professor, no less. He is a smart man, so he immediately resigned his new post and the Vice-Chair took over.
Okay, I know I am an academic nerd, but does no one else want to serve on faculty senate? I have served as a faculty representative at three different universities, and I think it is not a bad avenue for service. I learned about how the university functions. I met interesting, smart people from across the university. I helped shape university policies.Yes, some of it is mundane and breaks into wordsmithing that makes me want to kill someone, but that only happens once in a while. Senate gets you out of your office, out of your department, and engaged in the larger university. What university service could be better than that?
I am once again reminded of how few faculty members understand the importance of their role in shared governance. If we (and staff and students) don't take a role in determining the policies and practices that shape our lives as employees and the education of our students, we leave it in the hands of upper administrators and members of advisory boards who have their own pressures and agendas and have limited insight into the lived experiences of faculty, staff, and students on campus. Shared governance only works if everyone shows up--willingly, not by accident.