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Chair-elect to become chair
Faculty senate skirts bylaws fight to focus on budget fallout
Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011
By Hope Belli Tinney, WSU News
PULLMAN, Wash. - Dave Turnbull, associate professor of music, will chair the Washington State University Faculty Senate for 2011-2012, taking over for Cathy Claussen, who resigned from the senate over the summer.
Turnbull was scheduled to be chair-elect this year and would have succeeded Claussen as chair in 2012-13. When the position came open in August, however, Turnbull was hesitant to prematurely fill it.
At a senate meeting last week, Turnbull said he asked 2010-11 chair Max Kirk to stay on for an additional year, based on historical precedent. After some deliberation, Kirk agreed. Senate leadership then polled senate members to gauge support for the plan.
In an email vote taken prior to the first senate meeting of the year, 44 members supported the plan for Kirk to remain chair for an additional year; four members were opposed.
However, at the senate meeting on Sept. 15, several senators raised questions about whether proper procedures were followed. While one version of senate bylaws seemed to explicitly guide exactly the situation at hand - when the chair resigns and the chair-elect wants to remain chair-elect - another version was silent on the issue.
Given the budget cuts facing the university and the program changes and consolidations that will occur as a result, Turnbull said he and Kirk decided it would be best to stay focused on academic and faculty issues and avoid a fight over senate bylaws. On Monday, Kirk resigned as chair and Turnbull agreed to step into the position.
Turnbull said one reason he hesitated to become chair this year is because he has a particularly heavy teaching load and anticipates a lighter load next year. But, he said, he has been working with his department chair to get help.
Another factor, he said, is that he wanted more time to learn senate procedures and set goals for his term in office. Even before the leadership changes occurred, he said, one of his major goals was to review the faculty manual to clear up confusion, inconsistencies and contradictions. That remains one of his goals for the year.
The next faculty senate meeting will be Oct. 6.