Faculty & Staff News

Q&A: Meet the 2017 Faculty Senate president

The Faculty Senate is in charge of leading the faculty through many important initiatives, such as campus carry which was implemented this fall. | Courtesy of Catherine Horn

After serving as the 2016 president-elect for the UH Faculty Senate, Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Studies associate professor Catherine Horn will be serving her term as the Faculty Senate President for 2017.

The Cougar sat down with Horn, who was elected by other senators, to ask her what this role means and why it is important to the campus.

TC: What will your role as Faculty Senate President be?

Catherine Horn: Our role and our privilege as a Senate is to represent with our choices the voices of the more than 2600 University of Houston faculty. In the role of senate president, it is an especially humbling honor to steward that work over this year. My job, is really to clear paths and build bridges so that the good work that the faculty will undertake – on behalf of students and our university – can flourish.

TC: What was it like being president-elect? How do these roles differ?

CH: Being president-elect was a little bit like learning to swim by starting in the dep end. The roles of president and president-elect are similar in that they partner with lots of folks within and outside the Senate to get jobs done. I think the biggest difference so far is the more active responsibility to build the partnerships rather than just be part of them.

TC: What do you hope to accomplish in your new position?

CH: Among other important activities already ongoing, I think the Senate is primed to serve as an essential partner in the important work that is happening at both senior administrative and grassroots faculty levels to recruit and retain diverse top faculty talent. The University is recognized nationally for our student body diversity. The Faculty Senate can usefully serve as a hub in important efforts aimed at a campus also nationally recognized for its diverse faculty.

TC: When did you find out you were selected for this position?

CH: I spent a year as president-elect, so I was selected in December 2015 for the 2017 Senate presidency.

TC: What experiences do you have that you think can help you in this position?

CH: I am an associate professor in the College of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and also the Executive Director of the Institute for Educational Policy Research and Evaluation and the Director for the Center for Research, Evaluation, and Advancement of Teacher Education.

My research focus concentrates on how institutional, state, and federal policies shape college access and success, particularly for students most disadvantaged by the education and social sectors. So, one of the interesting things about being a scholar in my area is I am regularly reminded there is an empirical literature to lean on in understanding the goings on of higher education. In considering how our Faculty Senate might address key issues, I draw on what James Minor describes as the influential nature of a Senate.

Unlike functional, ceremonial, or subverted counterparts, ours has been a governing body that has effectively initiated change, largely a function of our collaborative relationships with administration. I argue that our continued success rests in our openness to blur traditional boundaries within our own committee structure and across Senate and administrative lines.

Such an approach, I believe, moves our work from being only tactical or even imposed to become instrumental – useful toward collective ends we share.


TC: Why is this role important?

CH: The role of the faculty senate is important because it represents the voice of the faculty in important conversations about the University (in the same way that SGA represents the student voice).

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