Rockwell Hall Bell Tower

College Senate Sees New Leadership

The College Senate—the formal partnership between the administration and the constituencies of faculty, professional staff, support staff, and students at Buffalo State College—has new leadership for the 2007–2008 academic year.

Sharon Cramer, SUNY Distinguished Service Professor of exceptional education, is the chair; Betty Cappella, SUNY Distinguished Service Professor of educational foundations, is vice chair.

“I am following in the footsteps of talented campus leaders,” said Cramer. “I feel excited about how I will make the role of chair my own.”

The Senate reviews college policy and procedure and makes recommendations on such matters to President Muriel A. Howard. In so doing, it serves as the official voice of the members of the college community.

The Senate consists of elected senators and has eight standing committees. Senators serving on the College Senate may be students, faculty, administrators, or professional or support staff. Administrators are appointed. All others are elected by representative groups.

Buffalo State’s College Senate meetings are open to the public and are typically held on the second or third Friday every month during each semester. All members of the campus community are invited to attend.

Last year’s Senate tackled a variety of critical issues, including revising the academic misconduct policy, examining BSC 101, creating and promulgating the official statement on the use of textual similarity (plagiarism) detection software, and creating new awards, such as the President’s Award for Excellence as an Undergraduate Research Mentor.

The Senate is currently developing its goals for the academic year. The group will participate in the 2008–2013 strategic planning process, specifically looking at the role of governance, and in the campus mid-cycle report for Middle States Accreditation. It also will make a recommendation related to last year’s examination of the current requirement for 45 credits of 300- and 400-level courses for students.

“The Senate’s participation in the strategic planning process should give us an opportunity to examine both the current and future role of governance on our campus,” said Cramer. “I look forward to facilitating the Senate’s participation in that process, and anticipate we’ll draw on the members of the current Senate as well as those who served on the Senate in the past.”

This year’s Senate also has a new chair for the Curriculum Committee: Nancy Chicola, associate professor of elementary education and reading. This standing committee receives course and program revisions, and works with departments to apply a consistent set of standards via the Senate Curriculum review. It also reviews new programs. All action by the Curriculum Committee is presented in the form of recommendations to the president, who makes all final decisions regarding curricular changes. Currently, the Curriculum Handbook is undergoing its first major revision since 2002. This document should provide guidance for curriculum/program development and review.

To allow greater participation from the campus and general public, the College Senate incorporates constituent questions into its regular agenda. These are routed through senators and addressed during monthly meetings. All members of the Buffalo State community are encouraged to submit questions or concerns through the senators. Constituent questions are the last item on the agenda of each Senate meeting.

Without hesitation, Cramer can testify to the vital role that the College Senate plays in shaping Buffalo State’s future. “Things around here are not decided without great deliberation and democracy,” she said.

Her advice to faculty and staff about the College Senate? Don’t miss out.

“The life of every member of our campus is influenced in some way by the College Senate each year,” said Cramer. “Take advantage of the opportunity for dialogue and decision-making that the Senate affords.”

Buffalo State’s Link to SUNY Governance
In addition to her role as chair of Buffalo State’s College Senate, Cramer also is the newly appointed chair of the Governance Committee for the systemwide University Faculty Senate, which serves as a resource on governance and as a deliberative body on educational policies for the SUNY system. She served as a member of the committee for the past two years.

One of the largest faculty governance organizations in the country, UFS consists of the chancellor of SUNY, two SUNY representatives, and representatives from each of 33 state-operated campuses. Buffalo State’s elected representatives to UFS are John DeNisco, associate professor and chair of the Business Department, and David Carson, professor and chair of the History and Social Studies Education Department.

Three other Buffalo State faculty members are involved with UFS, each with appointments to standing committees. Meg Knowles, assistant professor of communication, and Howard Reid, professor of psychology, sit on the Undergraduate Committee. Valentin Brimkov, associate professor of mathematics, sits on the Awards Committee.

Cramer is pleased to represent Buffalo State both on campus and systemwide. “It’s an exciting opportunity to serve a dual role,” she said. “I’m able to work with so many talented individuals here to shape Buffalo State’s future, and also share our vision with the rest of the state.”