The main theme at the fall 2022 convocation on Aug. 16 was collaboration among employees of Texas A&M University-San Antonio.
The convocation welcomed faculty and staff into the new school year. Administration and other university representatives gave remarks of unity and expansion into the future to a lively audience of about 400 faculty and staff in the main auditorium.
President Cynthia Teniente-Matson said, “It’s a privilege and an honor to have you all as colleagues and as partners in the work of transforming tomorrow, together. Thank you for showing up, for putting in the work, for making a difference in the lives of our students and in our community.”
Dr. Leonard Love, Faculty Senate president and associate professor of management, called for stronger shared governance between agencies of the university.
Shared governance is the concept of the executive, staff and faculty branches working in committee to improve the institution.
Shared governance is essential to establish an institution people will be modeling 100 years from now, Love told the audience.
“It doesn’t mean that we always get what we want; it certainly doesn’t mean there’s an adversarial relationship with the administration,” Love said.
“That’s working in partnership with administration, and I know that they’re committed to that.”
He added that the university is participating in a study comparing faculty pay at A&M-San Antonio with other universities to understand fair market salary for faculty.
A July 14 email to faculty from Kathryn Funk-Baxter, vice president for business affairs, said the study — done by Evergreen Solutions LLC — will conclude its research in September.
Dr. Megan Wise de Valdez, vice president of the Faculty Senate and biology program coordinator, wrote in an Aug. 18 email to The Mesquite that while the senate doesn’t have data on how underpaid faculty are here compared with other schools, she and biology faculty have experienced a phenomenon in which faculty “who were hired five to ten years ago, and who have experience and may be tenured, are making less than newly hired un-tenured faculty with less experience.”
“Faculty pay is obviously something we are concerned about and there is evidence that it is certainly an issue,” she wrote.
Wise de Valdez added that several factors need to be considered to understand whether a faculty member is underpaid, such as area of expertise, the college, demand, level of experience and title.
As for shared governance, effective channels of communication are essential, Love said.
Love invited the audience to get to know the Faculty Senate, which convenes at 11:30 a.m. every first Friday of the month.
“We’re going to make more of an effort in the Faculty Senate to be better communicating to you and to the chairs and deans,” Love said.
Love then encouraged chairs and deans to communicate the activities of the senate to their faculty to avoid the “rumor mill” from becoming a problem.
“If there’s something else that you think we need to be looking at, let us know,” he added. “Contact your senator.
“We’re here to work for you.”
Convocation also included remarks from Dr. Mohamed Abdelrahman, vice president for academic affairs and provost since mid-July. He said collaboration leads to innovation and equity. He presented the 2022 faculty awards, which included:
Dr. Ruby Daniels, instructional assistant professor in the Department of Management and Marketing.
Senior scholarly research or artistic achievement
Dr. Karen Burgard, associate professor of Curriculum and Instruction.
Junior Scholarly Research or Artistic Achievement
Dr. Katherine Espinoza, assistant professor of Curriculum and Instruction, and Dr. Philis M. Barragan Goetz, assistant Professor of Communication, History and Philosophy.
Dr. Stephanie Black, associate professor of marketing and management.
The presentation closed with remarks from Matson, which included the announcement of planning stages between the university, University Health and Texas A&M Health Science Center to invest approximately $500 million in infrastructure. Plans include a hospital on university grounds that will expand offerings for undergraduate and graduate students.
Matson also said an educational classroom and public health lab facility would be added to the campus, funded through $45 million of state capital construction assistance projects (CCAP) funds. Plans also include a new childcare facility in partnership with Educare.
“We’re building the foundation for the future of academic enterprise between our institutions,” Matson said.