The University of Indianapolis has entered the new school year with its 20th Faculty Senate and Professor of International Relations and Director of Graduate Program in International Relations Jyotika Saksena has been named as the new UIndy Faculty Senate President.
Saksena said she has been at UIndy since 2001 when she completed her doctorate in political science at the University of Georgia and moved to Indianapolis for her first job out of graduate school. She said she has been one of several female faculty senate presidents since the committee’s formation in 2004. Currently, according to Saksena, there is an international oversight committee that helps to provide faculty perspective on international partnerships. Saksena said she was responsible for creating the international oversight committee and wrote the charter, and then became the subcommittee chair before being elected Faculty Senate President.
“I interviewed during the last year of my degree, and this was my first job right out of grad school,” Saksena said. “And I came from the University of Georgia. That’s where I got my PhD in Political Science, and that was really a large university. This was a really tiny school but I just loved UIndy and never thought about leaving.”
The Faculty Senate, according to the UIndy University Committees webpage, functions as a cabinet aimed towards dealing with issues within the institution that are not within the principle responsibilities of faculty. The Faculty Senate is made up of faculty members elected to executive committees as well as school administrators, according to the webpage, and is also overseen by administration. According to Saksena, the faculty senate president functions for the Senate as representation for all faculty and serves on the Faculty Senate Executive Committee which is made up of five members. The Executive Committee is composed of the president, the vice president, the secretary and then two faculty members at-large, Saksena said.
“Every month we have our faculty senate meetings. And then, once a semester we have the full faculty meeting,” Saksena said. “[The Executive Committee] runs those meetings. But broadly, any concerns related to issues that come up regarding the faculty at the University are brought to us.”
According to Assistant Professor for Art & Design and Faculty Senator Nathaniel Foley, the Faculty Senate is currently working through curricular elements for the university. The Faculty Senate, according to Foley, is currently working through updates on discussion points for the committee and that general education core is a conversation that the committees are continuing.
“We have elements of just updating on different things that are going on. So that’s definitely a goal that is always an ongoing element within all the committees that we have for our committee structures,” Foley said. “And also supporting administration, and onboarding President Singh and also working in collaboration, so being able to work back and forth with administration to have a positive voice and continuing our path forward as an institution.”
According to Saksena, goals for the Faculty Senate include ensuring that there is a certain level of shared governance between the administration and the faculty, which involves issues that relate to any concerns to the academic aspect of the university. Saksena said that one of the faculty senate’s goals is to look into making sure that the general education core is well-researched and well-documented curriculum is implemented. Another goal is to look at the different committees that the university has and assess and see if they might need to be sunsetted or if a new committee should be created, Saksena said.
“So overall, our goal is to just review the governance structure that exists and assess it and reform and revise it in a way that best serves the interests of the faculty, the students, the staff and the university overall,” Saksena said.
According to Saksena, creating a more positive relationship with the administration is another aim for the Faculty Senate. She said other objectives for the university include administration being interested in rethinking and revising the mission of the university.
“So this is really, I think, a good opportunity for us to look at UIndy with fresh eyes. We have to respect our history, our culture—which has been wonderful,” Saksena said. “It’s a great college. It’s a great university, but keeping in mind our history and our culture, it is an opportunity for us to look at new ways of moving our mission forward. And we hope to work with the administration and integrate that.”