Eric Rowe-Staff Writer
After spending eight years sitting on committees and acting as the point man for faculty with academic concerns, professor of theology Wayne Kobes is stepping down as chair of the academic senate. All Dordt faculty will gather in May to elect the new chair.
The academic senate discusses and deliberates decisions for Dordt and makes recommendations to the provost, currently Eric Forseth, who is the chief academic officer. Both President Hoekstra and Provost Forseth may sin in on the senate meetings, but neither may vote.
“If you don’t talk, listen, sit at the table,” Kobes said, “problems may creep in.”
Senate meetings help Forseth view situations from the faculty’s various perspectives, allow him to receive any pushback that he hadn’t anticipated and give the faculty a heads-up on plans that administration is developing.
Before the election in May, the faculty at large will vote in preliminary sessions to whittle down a list of nominees to fill Kobes’ seat. The secretary of the faculty assembly, Dr. Abby Foreman, oversees the election of the chair and any vacated senate spots.
Currently, faculty often come to Kobes as chair of faculty with concerns. Kobes and Foreman know who to direct issues towards and can help make connections even if the concern isn’t specifically for the academic senate to address.
The academic senate is concerned with broader policy and neither chair nor secretary should undercut committees appointed to deal with specific concerns.
The new pro-tech program is a good example of a broader policy that affects facilities, the core program and other departments, and this new Dordt program was discussed many times at senate meetings.
Though it represents members of the faculty assembly, the academic senate is more than just a mouthpiece for faculty. Registrar director Jim Bos and Dean of Students Robert Taylor are both members of the senate who reside outside of the faculty.
“It’s an academic senate not a faculty senate,” Kobes said. “It’s not that there are different power groups, it’s collaborative.”
Senate terms are three years and are limited to two consecutive terms. Kobes spent his first two years serving out the term of the previous chair, Dr. Hubert Krygsman, when Krygsman became associate provost. Filling out partial terms doesn’t count towards the two-term limit.
When the senate first began in the 2008-09 year, officers drew straws to see who would get the full three-year term, who would get two years and who would get one. This staggering minimizes the senator turnover each year.
The chair of faculty sits on Board of Trustees meetings as a non-voting member. The responsibility of articulating faculty views to trustees can be challenging as one much represent the view of a diverse body of people.
“It’s kind of like saying ‘people in Iowa think,’” Kobes said.