In the coming weeks the University Senate will hold elections to slate a new vice president and president-elect after it officially instates its new president, Bill Harbaugh.
As Senate president, Harbaugh said he will focus on updating course evaluations, continuing the conversations on core education and improving the relationship between University of Oregon administration and the Senate.
Harbaugh has been part of the Senate for eight years and was the president of the Senate last academic year. He ran to be the vice president for this year while he was still president.
According to the Senate bylaws, the Senate vice president is elected at the last meeting of spring term. The vice president then becomes the president after serving as a vice president for a year.
The vice president coordinates all of the committees within the Senate and must stand in for the president if they are ever absent from a meeting.
“The way it works is you are elected as vice president and president-elect. So you really run a year before you actually become president so there’s kind of a training period,” said Harbaugh.
The Senate president receives a raise of $30,000 and still teaches a full course load, according to Harbaugh. The raise can be used for research money or a summer salary, according to the Senate website.
Comparable universities relieve their presidents from teaching courses and the president focuses solely on Senate matters, Harbaugh said.
The Senate is negotiating with the administration to imitate other university Senate structures, according to Harbaugh.
Harbaugh said that one of the things he wants to address as Senate president is improving the relationship between the Senate and the administration.
“I’ve worked pretty well with the administration, but they would prefer to make the large decisions themselves without consulting the Senate and the students,” Harbaugh said. “I need to push back on that as Senate president to make sure the Senate has an active role in running this institution.”
One of the ways Harbaugh plans on achieving this is through reorganizing some of the Senate committees to work more efficiently with university administration.
University of Oregon political science student Jade Warner said she was unaware UO had a Senate and felt she and her fellow students do not know what they have power over.
“They should definitely reach out to students,” Warner said. “We are the people paying for this institution.”
Warner went on to say students themselves should strive to get involved as well. “If we can get from it what we want, it can be a better experience for everyone involved,” she said.
Students have a lot of ways to get involved in the Senate to create change, according to Harbaugh.
There are five student positions within the Senate, as well as opportunities to serve on the different Senate committees.
“I encourage students if they are interested in a subject to let me know, and I will do my best to find a committee that’s within that area that they can serve on,” Harbaugh said.