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Committee develops solutions, represents BJU faculty

The Faculty Advisory Committee is a group of 10 faculty members who represent the academic divisions across campus and serve as liaisons between the faculty and the administration of BJU.

The committee, which was started in 2014, is made up of 10 faculty members, all but one of whom is elected by his or her peers to serve on a two-year rotation.

The faculty who make up the committee are extremely influential in providing recommendations for the future of the University.

Bill Burkholder, a faculty member from the School of Business who also serves as the chair of the committee, said the committee doesn’t make any decisions for the University. 

They simply represent faculty opinion to those who do make the important decisions. 

Members of the committee put in hours of research to present their proposals knowledgably and determine how competitive institutions are approaching the issue at hand. “The idea of the Faculty Advisory Committee is to provide a way for faculty concerns to be heard directly by Dr. Weier and Dr. Pettit,” Burkholder said.

As faculty representative from the School of Business, Burkholder is responsible for bringing concerns of his fellow business faculty before the committee. If the committee agrees the concern is a real issue, they bring it before Dr. Weier or Dr. Pettit. 

Dr. Gary Weier, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, introduced the idea of the committee in 2014 as a means of formalizing communication between faculty and administration.

He said regular communication between all parties is important for the success of the committee’s endeavors.  “[The committee] meet twice a month, and I meet with the chair every other week,” Weier said. 

Weier meets with the whole committee periodically, though not at regular intervals.

Laurilyn Hall, a faculty member from the division of art and design, said, communication between the leadership and the faculty is crucial to the health of the organization. “If we all operate independently of one another, we’re not really serving our students well,” she said. “The student experience will ultimately suffer if we’re not talking to each other.”  

Hall said the committee gives all faculty members a voice, and she is happy to play a part in providing that representation.  “It’s so encouraging to be a part of [the committee],” she said. “Groups like this help to ensure that we have good communication behind the mission we’re trying to accomplish. We can bring about positive change better as a group than we can individually.”

Burkholder said one of the first things the committee did upon its creation was to tackle the academic integrity policy.

He said that, prior to the formation of the Academic Integrity Committee, faculty handled issues of academic integrity inside and outside of the classroom as they saw fit. 

Thanks to the FAC’s recommendations, the Academic Integrity Committee provides a formal standard by which to address these kinds of issues. “[The Faculty Advisory Committee’s proposal] gave continuity and consistency,” Burkholder said.

Burkholder said the committee is beneficial to the University in a variety of ways. 

“It gives faculty members a designated seat at the table with the administration,” Burkholder said. “It helps the faculty understand that the administration is listening, and it helps the administration understand the things that are important to the faculty. It really improves communication both ways.”

Jeanine Aumiller, a faculty member who represents the School of Fine Arts and Communication said the committee is an important asset to BJU

“Without the faculty, there is no University,” she said. “Our viewpoint, our perspective and our day-to-day interactions with processes that directly affect our classroom and directly affect our students puts us in a unique position to see problem areas and to bring forward solutions.”

Weier believes the committee is important because of the role faculty play in delivering the University’s mission.

“[The faculty] have a very important perspective when it comes to implementing ideas for improvement and leading the University forward,” Weier said. “They need to be involved in helping the University make decisions. I really appreciate the faculty who are willing to serve in this way.”

Weier said the University plans to enact a new grade forgiveness policy that was worked on by the committee very soon. “There will be an opportunity for students, in limited cases, to be able to retake a class where they received a poor grade,” he said. “Their initial poor grade will not count against their GPA.”

Just this year, the FAC helped to implement a new policy regarding the faculty dress code; male faculty are no longer required to wear neck ties to work every day. 

They are still expected to wear either a coat or tie, but they are no longer required to wear both. “It’s a little thing, but it’s still a policy that was changed that made our lives better,” Burkholder said.