For the first time in three years, women and gender studies professor Rachel Fernflores is not the chair of Cal Poly’s Academic Senate. Instead, she will be replaced by statistics professor Steve Rein.
The Senate held elections for a new chair and vice chair for the 2012-13 school year, and Rein was elected chair, while English professor Dustin Stegner was elected vice chair. Fernflores, who is still on the board as past chair, is now enjoying free time she hasn’t had in years, she said.
“I’m breathing a sigh of having less business right now,” Fernflores said.
Fernflores has been a chair of the Senate, which represents the interests of Cal Poly faculty to the university administration, since Fall 2009. As chair, her challenge was ensuring that faculty’s concerns were heard during a period where state budget cuts meant furloughs for teachers, she said.
Even though furloughs were not continued after the 2009-10 academic year, Rein and the current Academic Senate are facing similar challenges and need to continue to communicate between faculty and administration about budgetary needs, Fernflores said.
“We still haven’t come out of this budget crisis,” Fernflores said.
And the role of the Academic Senate in communicating during the budget crisis is crucial, vice chair elect Stegner said.
“I think the Academic Senate is a very good way for shared governance to take place at Cal Poly,” Stegner said.
In addition to dealing with continuing issues like the budget, this year the Senate will also be focusing on general education, Stegner said.
Over the past several years, general education has passed into the hands of the Academic Senate, and this year the Senate’s priority will be re-examining classes and curriculum, Stegner said.