ANNAPOLIS – Two faculty members with voting rights would join the University of Maryland Board of Regents under a bill making its way once again through the General Assembly.
But Sen. Ida G. Ruben, D-Montgomery, acknowledges the measure has slim chances of passage because of action by the university system to provide the board with faculty input, albeit input she called inadequate.
The bill would allow faculty from each system campus to nominate one of their own to the two-year terms. The governor would select from the nominations. The University of Maryland College Park would be guaranteed one spot, while the second would be reserved for another institution.
Ruben said full faculty participation is necessary because of the perspective that faculty could bring to the board. The current session is “at least the sixth” in which she has introduced the bill, she said.
“If anyone has the pulse of the campus, it’s the faculty,” Ruben said. “Their input is an important part of the equation.”
But the 17-member board is opposed to giving faculty members voting rights because of conflict of interest concerns, said John Lippincott, the system’s associate vice chancellor for advancement.
Although the faculty members would be excluded from voting on faculty compensation under the bill, the board frequently deals with other issues that concern working conditions for faculty, such as enrollment and curriculum, Lippincott said.
“It becomes increasingly awkward if the board has to review every issue for conflict of interest and excuse members,” Lippincott said.
Lippincott said the board is already attentive to faculty concerns and in December created a new non-voting position, faculty advisor. That person, selected by the Council of University System Faculty, is allowed to participate in committee and full board discussions as well as executive sessions. The board can vote to exclude the advisor from executive sessions.
Ruben, however, termed the new non-voting position “unacceptable.”
Dr. Judy Neri, a spokeswoman for the Faculty Guild, which represents about 100 faculty members at College Park, pointed out that the board’s student member is allowed to vote.
“The faculty needs to have equal or better representation to the students,” Neri said. “The advisory position is a bone to throw to the dog compared to what students have, and it doesn’t seem fair.”
Ruben’s bill would provide the board with a diverse perspective while maintaining balance, Neri said.
“They could make their power felt,” Neri said, “but they could never outvote the rest of the board.” A hearing on the bill will be held Wednesday by the Senate Economic and Environmental Affairs Committee. -30-