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Faculty Senate Executive Committee scraps resolution over speaker selection

Faculty Senate Executive Committee scraps resolution over speaker selection

Provost Jennifer Evans-Cowley (right) takes a question from Senate member Gloria Olness. Cowley. Evans-Cowley gave feedback as to the amount of people affected by hurricane Harvey and Irma in the UNT community. Rachel Walters

Faculty Senate Executive Committee scraps resolution over speaker selection
October 26
22:33 2017

The UNT Faculty Senate Executive Committee passed a motion on Wednesday to stop discussion and remove the resolution regarding the university’s speaker selection process.

The executive committee voted 5-4 with one abstention. This resolution came in response to Donald Trump Jr., son of President Donald Trump, speaking as part of the UNT Kuehne Speaker Series. It recommended a more transparent and engaging process for how speakers under the UNT brand are selected to speak.

The committee deliberated on the matter for over half an hour. Professor in special education and senator for group 6Smita Mehta questioned how much impact this resolution would have.

“If UNT is not technically sponsoring [Trump Jr.] like they do with other speaker series, technically we do not have any control over that,” Mehta said.

Faculty senate secretary Kevin Yanowski said this resolution will help push for more public information about the process of selecting speakers.

“We can at least have knowledge about what this is about and then we as faculty can voice our opinions about what it’s about,” Yanowski said.

The executive committee members who voted in favor of the motion ultimately decided this resolution was an overreach on their jurisdiction.

The resolution also implied several technicalities for bringing other university-wide speakers to campus. The committee pointed out how difficult it is for one department to override another’s decision to invite somebody. For example, if the English department invited a speaker, another department in the university would not have the proper judgment to say whether or not the speaker is credible.

“Any speaker that comes to campus would have to be subject to all these things—faculty input and funding,” said John Peters, senator for group two and English professor.

The resolution was also aimed at protecting the UNT brand. The executive committee has questioned UNT President Neal Smatresk about who is responsible for UNT branding.

The committee still believes there needs to be transparency in how speakers are brought and where the money comes from.

“What portion of [the speaking event] is being sponsored by the university is very critical,” Mehta said. “It goes back to branding and transparency and funding.”

Dr. V. Barbara Bush, faculty senate chair, stated the faculty senate doesn’t have a history of passing resolutions.

The executive committee began drafting the resolution after the first faculty senate meeting on Sept. 13. At the last faculty senate meeting on Oct. 11, the senators unanimously decided to postpone discussion about this resolution because Smatresk was not present at the meeting.

This action will be brought up at the next faculty senate meeting on Nov. 8.

Featured Image: Provost Jennifer Evans-Cowley (right) takes a question from Senate member Gloria Olness. Cowley at the faculty senate meeting on Sep. 13. Rachel Walters

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Celeste Gracia

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