Gormley elected chair of Faculty Senate

June 19, 2013

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Melissa Gormley

PLATTEVILLE, Wis.­­­ – Dr. Melissa Gormley, associate professor of history and director of the women’s and gender studies program at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, has been elected to serve as chair of the faculty senate for the 2013-14 academic year.

Faculty senate is a forum for faculty to actively participate in formulating university strategies and policies. Within UW-Platteville’s shared governance system, it is the highest forum and highest representative body for faculty. The faculty senate represents and is responsible to the general faculty, with Gormley, as faculty senate chair, serving as the faculty representative to UW System.

“I am very honored that I was nominated and chosen as chair of the faculty senate,” said Gormley. “I am looking forward to working with the new and returning senate members on important issues that we worked on during the 2012-13 academic year, such as compensation and revisions to the tenure and retention plan. I am also looking forward to working with students in student governance groups. Their insights are essential to our work.”

Gormley noted that the leadership and commitment of Dr. Laura Anderson, who served as faculty senate chair before her, was key to the group’s accomplishments and successes the past few years.

“I am very thankful for the strong leadership shown by Dr. Anderson,” said Gormley. “Under her leadership and guidance, the faculty senate accomplished a lot of important work in a very efficient manner and we resolved a number of large issues. As we move forward, I hope to lead the group in the same efficient, forward-thinking manner that she did.”

Gormley also noted that the faculty senate faces a number of challenges in the coming year.

“While the majority of the issues that the faculty senate will address will be relatively easily resolved, one of the more challenging issues we will continue to address is compensation,” Gormley stated. “Although all of the faculty senate’s conversations about compensation have been very productive so far, this issue has been more difficult to deal with because of the larger political context.”

“The reality is that circumstances imposed from the outside that are not in our control, including declining support from the state, have had a huge impact on compensation,” Gormley continued. “Knowing this, we are deeply committed to closely examining the factors and options that lie within our control and then doing everything within our power to make progress on this important issue.”

UW-Platteville Faculty Senator and English Professor Teresa Burns stated that Gormley is ideal for this position.

"We’ve had so many changes and proposed changes at the university recently, in everything from the tenure and promotion process to funding models, that it is even more important than usual to have a strong person chairing this body,” Burns stated. “UW-Platteville is at a critical period in its growth, at least in the opinion of many faculty. The tone we set in faculty senate next year and the engagement of senators in these changes could affect UW-Platteville for years to come.”

“We’re fortunate to have a senate chair who is not only from our college, but who has been an active participant in these discussions, especially those concerning the university’s strategic planning initiatives and diversity issues,” Burns added. “Dr. Gormley was co-chair of the committee that completed the campus climate survey two years ago and has been instrumental in ensuring that the findings of that study, both positive and negative, have stayed part of strategic planning discussions."

Faculty senate includes representatives from all three colleges and the library as well as academic staff and students. The chancellor and provost serve as ex-officio members of the faculty senate.

The governance structure of UW-Platteville ensures that all constituencies are involved in the governance process. This enables members of each major university group – faculty, staff and students – to develop policies and recommendations related to their specific areas of interest. Governance bodies include faculty senate, academic staff senate, classified staff senate and student senate.

“Shared governance is important because it allows our faculty, staff and students to be involved in helping shape and direct actions related to the university’s mission,” Gormley stated. “I am honored to be a part of one of the university’s governance bodies – all have an important role to play in helping the university move forward.”

The university’s other major councils and commissions – the University Undergraduate Curriculum Commission, University Rank Salary and Tenure Policy Commission, Academic Planning Council, University Budget Commission and Academic Information Technology Commission – all report to the faculty senate.

Gormley, who began teaching at UW-Platteville in 2008, specializes in modern Latin American history. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from San Francisco State University and her doctorate degree from the University of California-Davis.

Written by: Laurie A. Hamer, communications specialist, UW-Platteville College of Liberal Arts and Education, (608) 342-6191, hamerl@uwplatt.edu

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