Senate to start with new leadership

By Samuel G. Smith
On September 1, 2011

The Faculty Senate is set to begin its new year Friday with new senator orientation, and it's doing it with a new president as well.

Jack Zibluk, professor of journalism, was voted into the position held by Beverly Boals Gilbert last spring. Zibluk said he's starting his two-year term first by assessing the most important issues affecting faculty.

To that end the Senate recently sent an electronic survey to the campus' nearly 500 faculty members asking about issues such as faculty salaries, teaching load, campus facilities and diversity.

"I really want to represent the faculty as much as possible," he said. "The best way to do it is to ask the faculty."

Faculty salaries have been a recurring topic of discussion at Senate meetings. The most recent Faculty Senate Finance Committee report, presented at a meeting in March, found growing gaps between the salaries at ASU and those at comparable universities in the region. According to report data, the average gap between ASU and the regional average for the position of professor was $9,000, and that gap had grown by $3,531 in the period between 2004-05 and 2009-10.

"Even though they've made some progress, we're still way out of whack with anybody else," Zibluk said. "A lot of us get paid about equal to what a high school teacher gets paid. That's a real issue."

This year $200,000 has been set aside to fund internal disparities between underpaid faculty and higher-paid colleagues of comparable rank. It's the second year in a row that campus administration has made such an effort.

"It's a drop in the proverbial bucket," Zibluk said. "But it is a very positive gesture."

Besides salaries, Zibluk said he's excited about the opportunity to be a part of the shared governance process as administration is changing. In addition to his role in the Senate, Zibluk is also on the new chancellor search committee, a group he said he feels is refreshingly diverse and open. Charles Welch, former president of Henderson State University, was named to the ASU System presidency in November last year. The search for a permanent ASUJ chancellor, currently held by Dan Howard in an interim capacity, is ongoing.

"Shared governance really gives us the opportunity to have a voice," Zibluk said. "I recognize that we have a responsibility not just to do things right but to include as many diverse voices and different viewpoints as possible."

In terms of Senate changes, Zibluk said he's looking into opening up communication with a newsletter and possibly the use of a blog or other social media.

"I'm most excited to change the atmosphere on campus. There's been a lot of distrust with the administration [and] frustration with the top-down philosophy that we've had for years and years," he said. "We have some real opportunities to either strengthen the campus we have or move in directions we all can support."

The Senate will hold its first regular meeting Sept. 16.

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