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Penn State Faculty Senate calls on university for more information, involvement

Old Main administrative building
Emily Reddy
Old Main administrative building

As Penn State implements major changes, including cutting some college and campus budgets, reviewing academic programs and looking into options for running the Commonwealth Campuses, the university's Faculty Senate held a special meeting to call on the university for greater shared governance and openness with information.

The Faculty Senate passed two motions Wednesday: The first asks for information, including on how budget decisions are being made, exactly how much funding will be cut at each campus, and if the university is looking at consolidating campuses. It passed with a vote of 69-49.

The second motion that passed calls for the Senate’s committees to work with the university on the budget, academic and other changes and keep the Senate informed about what’s happening. It passed 87-12.

Victor Brunsden, a faculty member from Penn State Altoona and a sponsor of the second motion, said it is a way to measure "how much stock we can actually take" in what the administration has been saying about involving the Senate in decision-making.

“Right now if I had to give a mid-semester report on the administration of this university and its participation in shared governance, I’d be telling them that they are in danger of failing," he said. "The motion that we just passed here is to keep reporting on how they’re doing."

Several faculty senators questioned the process for passing the motions and whether there was enough time to get feedback on them.

"I have to say, in my seven years in the Senate, I find that this process and today’s special meeting was one of the more dysfunctional that I have seen with what’s seeming was a litany and forcing of rapid fire votes without proper due diligence and thought," said Brian Saunders, with the College of Medicine.

A Penn State spokesman said the administration is aware of the faculty senate motions.

"The university administration has and will continue to work meaningfully with the Faculty Senate on key areas that fall under the Senate's purview within the shared governance model," spokesman Wyatt DuBois said in an email.

Anne Danahy has been a reporter at WPSU since fall 2017. Before crossing over to radio, she was a reporter at the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pennsylvania, and she worked in communications at Penn State. She is married with cats.
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