Double Department Chair also Incoming Faculty Senate President


On Monday, March 28th 2016, the Adams State University (ASU) Faculty Senate convened to elect the next Faculty Senate President, a three year term according to the Senate Constitution. Running unopposed, Dr. Ed Crowther secured the nomination while also serving as Department Chair for History, Anthropology, Philosophy, Political Science, Spanish (HAPPSS) and also Department Chair for Teacher Education. This has caused some to question the apparent conflict of interest and consolidation of influence in shared governance.

Several other faculty were nominated for the position but none accepted the nomination.  While the Senate Constitution states “The Faculty Senate President (FSP) may not also serve as the Senator for the President’s academic department,” no provision exists to prevent the FSP from also serving as a department chair. One employee described an objection that was raised: “They already have representation as chairs of their departments and on Academic Council. Further power would disrupt the system of checks and balances.”

Dr. Crowther’s presidency was announced at the Faculty Senate meeting but little discussion was held on the matter at the time. Dr. Crowther was the only nominee to accept their nomination. This fact was not shared with faculty prior to distribution of the ballots. A number of faculty reported feeling blind-sided and were upset by the single-candidate election. Some faculty refused to vote, while others wrote-in alternative candidates. Some even wrote notes of protest on their ballots.

This election came at a time when some faculty were pushing to change the Senate Constitution to no longer allow chairs to serve as voting members of Senate. Currently, department chairs may still vote as faculty senators despite serving an administrative role over their department.

One faculty member observed, “the fact that Dr. Crowther was the only nominee to accept the nomination points to two other issues. First, the work involved in being Faculty Senate President doesn’t appear to be worth the course release time, a single course per semester according to the Senate Constitution. Second, the tensions on campus make the position less appealing than ever. Who wants the headaches?”

One former faculty member stated, “it seems like there is a democracy crisis brewing in the halls of the Faculty Senate. Much like our federal government, too often the corruption rises to the top and runs unopposed.”

Another former faculty member familiar with shared governance challenges at ASU went into more detail: “It seems to me that there is a clear conflict of interests. A department chair at ASU is essentially an arm of administration. Faculty Senate is to promote the interests of faculty. These two roles necessarily conflict frequently. In addition, double-chairing and serving as president of faculty senate is putting way too much power in one person’s position. And, Dr. Crowther has not been regularly put up for election to chair position and now he is unopposed as president of Faculty Senate.”

They concluded by stating, “THIS is shared governance?”