by Brody Truce
Nationwide, colleges struggle with engaging faculty in Faculty Senate, the decision-making body on all academic matters at most higher education institutions. Faculty at Whitmore College are no exception.
“Attendance has been abysmal for years,” explained Faculty Senate Chair Dr. Henry Forney, who also serves as Dean of the college’s Department of Music and Theater. “It would be easy to say that our accrediting body requires attendance at faculty senate, but I wanted our faculty to be truly engaged.”
His solution? Faculty Senate Dinner Theater.
Faced with dwindling numbers, Forney employed theatrical elements in last month’s meeting about proposed changes to the college’s academic integrity policy. Faculty enjoyed chicken pilaf, a side of green beans and a production of “West Side Story.”
“During intermission, the Jets and the Sharks debated the pros and cons of changes to our academic integrity policy; faculty cast their votes at the end of the production.”
Forney’s changes resulted in nearly doubled faculty attendance in the first month and the academic integrity policy received full senate approval.
“I was really on the fence about the changes to our academic integrity policy, but the Sharks made a very compelling argument,” explained Hillary McSwain, Professor of Linguistics. “I’m really glad I came.”
“The chicken pilaf was a bit salty, but not as salty as the discussion around academic dishonesty,” declared Mike Riggins, Associate Professor of Physics. “I’m hoping to bring my wife to the next meeting.”
Next month, the cast of “Rent” will propose changes to the college’s core curriculum; a lamb entrée will be served. Attendance is free for faculty and $25 for spouses.