Hartzell’s absences at Faculty Council meetings leave some members frustrated, disappointed 

Joelle DiPaolo, News Reporter

President Jay Hartzell has not attended three of the five Faculty Council meetings this academic year, leaving some faculty members frustrated at the lack of opportunities for communication.

Sharon Wood, executive vice-president and provost, stood in for Hartzell at the Sept. 20, Dec. 6 and Jan. 24 council meetings. During these monthly meetings, faculty members were not able to get direct answers from Hartzell about topics such as the University’s COVID-19 policies and the Liberty Institute, said Faculty Council member Stuart Reichler.

“That opportunity to have faculty members to be able to directly address the president is very, very important,” said Reichler, an associate professor of practice in the College of Natural Sciences. “It gives (him) an opportunity to hear and understand the concerns of the faculty, and also for the faculty to get direct feedback from the president about how or why certain decisions or policies were made.” 

Faculty Council member Pauline Strong asked Wood during the Jan. 24 meeting to express the faculty’s desire for Hartzell to be in attendance. 

“One of the strongest roles that Faculty Council has is the ability to question the president,” said Strong, director of the Humanities Institute, during the meeting. “It’s key to our model of faculty governance. We really hope that he’ll make it a priority.” 

University spokesperson J.B. Bird said in an email that Hartzell views the Faculty Council as important for shared governance, but sometimes has conflicts. Jen Moon, chair-elect for the council, said Hartzell has attended Faculty Council Executive Committee meetings. Bird said Hartzell considers those meetings “invaluable to his job.”

Moon, a professor of instruction in the Biology Instruction Office, said Wood has done a good job stepping in for Hartzell. 

“They’ve sort of tag-teamed … Faculty Council, and I think it’s worked beautifully,” Moon said. “Of course, we love it when President Hartzell is there and I think we all appreciate that, (but) sometimes … there’s going to be unavoidable conflict.” 

Reichler said Faculty Council meetings are scheduled over a year in advance so it should be easier for Hartzell to attend. He said the lack of explanation for his absence is disrespectful given that faculty members are also busy. 

“Missing three of the five Faculty Council meetings seems pretty significant to me,” Reichler said. “Maybe there’s perfectly good reasons he hasn’t been able to make it, … but it feels pretty disappointing.”