Senate Document Number 7908S
Date of Senate Approval 04/24/08
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Statement of Faculty Senate Action:
FWDC 6: Proposal to revise the University Service Council
(Replaces SD5204S and SD5304S; Faculty Handbook 10.3.7 and 10.4.1.2)
Effective Date: Immediately
1. Delete in Faculty Handbook
Section 10.3.7 on University Service Council (SD5204S)
Section 10.4.1.2 on How Members Are Selected (SD5304S)
2. Replace with Section 10.3.7: [exception do not include rationale in Handbook]
Because faculty service is integral to every aspect of our campus operations, and because it complements teaching and research in the overall development of individual faculty members and the faculty as a whole, the University Service Council (USC) will promote an appreciation of service appropriate to the mission of the university.
will support and facilitate faculty, staff, administration, and student service
activities on and off campus. The
Council will assess the role and effectiveness of service appropriate for the
institution. The Council will annually
select members of the faculty, the university staff or administration who will
receive grants to support either domestic or international service. Priority
will be placed on faculty service activities, particularly those that clearly
enhance student learning. The Council will serve to advise, develop, and review
policy with regard to service activities and the appropriate role of service in
professional portfolios as well as student learning experiences.
The University Service Council will serve to facilitate service by all members of the institution. Thus it should be composed of individuals representing the full range of campus constituencies. The Director of the Key Center is a particularly important addition to the Council as that person is central to facilitating the integration of learning with service, on and off campus.
1. The Council will serve as the institution’s policy, assessment, and facilitating voice in matters relating to service on and off campus.
2. The Council will review the institutional committee structure and periodically make recommendations with regard to number, purpose, and function of all institutional committees.
3. The Council will assume responsibility for recommending policy with regard to the role of service in the professional life and portfolio of faculty, administration, and staff.
4. The council will assume responsibility for recommending policy with regard to the role of service in the student’s academic and non-academic experience(s) while at the University.
5. Each year the Council will select recipients of grants to support appropriate service activities. These grants will be $250 to $1,000 for formal service activities approved by the Key Center for either service on or off campus including international service. Emphasis will be placed on service that contributes to student learning and the professional development of the recipients.
6. Two members of the Council will sit on the Faculty Scholarship and Service Awards Committee that determines the recipient of the annual Distinguished Service Award. The recipient will receive a certificate and $1,000. This award is to go to a person who has demonstrated exceptional service in support of the institution’s mission within the most recent five years.
7. The council will consult with the appropriate office(s) to ensure that every five years (beginning in AY 2008-2009) a summary of significant service activities by faculty will be published and on file in the Library.
8. The council will be consulted in the annual selection of the Reynolds and the William and Ida Friday service awards given to deserving graduating seniors.
The Service Council is to become a mechanism whereby service is recognized as an integral part of the institution’s mission, life, and function. As such the Council should have representatives from all major campus constituencies, and be able to tangibly support and recognize quality service in a formal manner.
The Service Council will have an operating budget equivalent to those received by the University Research Council (URC) and the University Teaching Council (UTC) for purposes of funding grants in the amount of no less than $250 to a maximum of $1000 to faculty, staff, or administration who meet criteria set by the council. Priority will be given to faculty led off campus projects which clearly enhance student learning or professional development. These funds will not compete with the grant associated with the Annual Distinguished Service Award.
FWDC and the Provost.
At the end of each year the Council will also give an annual report on the State of Service for the Institution to the Chair of the Faculty Senate and to the Chancellor.
Service is an institutional responsibility on and off campus. As noted in the accompanying document it can be seen as the institution’s “Moral Heart.” Another way to understand the value of service is to understand “service builds community.” As such the Service Council should reflect this importance and serve the institution in significant ways to facilitate meeting this responsibility in substantive fashion.
Journal of College & Character VOLUME VII, NO. 2, February 2006
Moral Heart of Higher Education
E. Thomas Moran,
This essay explores the distinctive but often unacknowledged role of service in the experience of American higher education. It argues that service must inform a pervasive set of values that orient us to social and communal life.
The idea of Service is commonplace in contemporary higher education. It is an often-noted element of the trinity of purposes that also includes teaching and research. But unlike these latter, apparently more robust commitments, service receives less attention. In the implicit view of many in the academy, it lacks either a clear conceptualization or inspiring vision to support it. If the role of service is to receive the attention its nominal centrality suggests it should, this situation needs to be rectified. To begin that process, academicians need to appreciate conclusively that service should not only extend to the way those in the academy relate to the broader community, but also that higher education should explicitly promote an understanding of our lives in relation to others and a concomitant sense of responsibility for the character of our public life and our common well-being. Seen from this perspective, service is the moral heart of the enterprise. Moreover, such a conceptualization of service is a unique contribution of American higher education. It extends and complements the historic missions of teaching and scholarship in relationship to establishing the foundations for democratic life.
The idea that service should have a seminal role in the academy arose early in the establishment of the Republic and was accompanied by the recognition that successful democracy would require a pervasive commitment to responsibility for the life of the society. As Jefferson observed, “In a democracy, we get the kind of government we deserve.” Education, including higher education, was seen as the principle vehicle for engendering in students the capabilities and commitments of democratic character. As time passed, colleges and universities came to be seen not only as having an obligation to inculcate civic responsibility but to exhibit it. This responsibility, it was believed, should be manifested in sharing openly and generously their intellectual resources with the broader society.
Hence, a new expectation was added to faculty life -- a willingness to share one’s professionally relevant capabilities and knowledge through an engagement with the community beyond the campus. These values were affirmed in the Land Grant movement in the latter half of the 19th century. They are central to the integration of higher education into the social fabric of society and the role higher education plays in the vital formula that makes democracy work. Thus, service is a palpable means by which the university helps to create healthy communities. In this respect, service operates in three realms: 1) the transference to the broader society of the fruits of research, scholarship and creative activities; 2) the sharing of the capabilities and expertise of individual faculty in directly addressing societal concerns; and 3) the preparation of students with the skills, commitment and character to act as competent citizens and leaders in a democracy.
To have anything worth sharing with the broader society, however, presupposes a healthy and dynamic life within the academy. The academy, known historically as a collegium, is a unique form of self-governing community in which the generation of knowledge and human development ideally occur through inquiry and dialog, unencumbered by the dictates and controls characteristic of other kinds of organizations. To maintain the collegium, and the free exchange of ideas it promotes and protects, requires that its members devote considerable time and effort to tasks related to its core functions: developing curriculum, evaluating the expertise of colleagues, establishing policies and practices for teaching and student performance, reviewing and commenting on the scholarly products of others, and interacting with the broad cosmopolitan networks of national and international scholars, which act as a source of new ideas and creative stimulation. These quotidian tasks of service are essential to sustaining the academy. They constitute an inevitable fourth realm of service for faculty that must be included with those others noted earlier.
Beyond its functions in the academy, however, service rests on a larger foundation of significance, which is often left unexamined and unspoken in academic life. It is this vitalizing sense of the spirit of service that is the subject of the remainder of this essay.
Service generates meaning and purpose in life. It creates bonds with those others who, as Joseph Conrad put it, “…share with us the sight of the stars and the warmth of the sun.” Moreover, it reflects a personal choice to answer what existentialists call “the absurd” -- or the resounding indifference of the universe to our intentions --with a determination not to yield to despair or callousness, but to make an active choice for hope, for compassion, and for community. These values must be affirmed even if our actions do not alter reality or make any difference to the outcome of events in the world. Such values and the connection to others they engender quite simply reflect a better way to live than their opposite or their absence offer.
Service, however, should not only be anchored in psychic rewards or personal meaning. To limit service to such terms runs the risk of making it merely therapeutic. And to that extent infuses it with a self-oriented, even self-indulgent, quality. Service should arise from a commitment to actually have a positive benefit for those who share life in a community, especially those who most require the care of others. Robert Kennedy exemplified this view, when he said to a colleague about his own efforts to support better conditions for the children of migrant workers, “…I want to do something that will last longer than your words or mine.”
Ultimately, the benefits of service accrue not only to those at whom they are directed. Service also creates community. It nourishes what the philosopher Hannah Arendt called “our common life.” Active service evidences not just that we care, but defines what we care about and how we express that care. Because service is a form of caring that is not simply private and intimate but public as well, its role in creating a foundational set of values for a community is decisive. A manifest, widespread commitment to service creates a flourishing community. Such communities are characterized by among other qualities, caring, trust, reciprocity, and a high degree of civic engagement. Flourishing communities also evince a determination to avoid turning inward and becoming narrow, closed and exclusive. Instead they strive to cultivate in their members a capacity for imagining the world from the perspective of the “other” and to extend to them sympathy, generosity of spirit and respect.
Without this expansive view of community to orient us, human beings become self-centered, and social life becomes atomistic and, potentially, chaotic and dysfunctional. In such conditions, there is a diminished understanding of what human beings hold in common and how to pursue what we hold in common and make it good. An ethos of service presents a counterbalancing force to insularity. When we make service a compelling commitment, we create hope that we can forge a positive sense of how we must relate to one another and what we must create together.
Leaders play a special role in creating this ethos of service and stewardship. To insure flourishing communities and organizations, service must be pervasive in the values of leadership. But when leaders exhibit a self-interested careerism they undermine commitment to the larger purposes that service embodies. Irrespective of the role one plays in an organization, however, authentic service must self consciously honor the purposes of a worthy organization and view work in such an organization as ennobling, precisely because it contributes to those purposes.
When a commitment to service is pronounced community flourishes; and paradoxically when community flourishes individuals thrive. Our private destinies cannot be conceived as separable from the well-being of our public life. If we doubt this insight, we need only to look to those societies ravaged by war, corruption or injustice to understand how difficult it would be for even the most fortunate member of such a society to live a truly satisfying life.
If the concept of community is to be fully meaningful, we must live with a personal sense of the consequences of what happens in our communities. A transient, impermanent connection to place mitigates against an enduring solidarity with those with whom we share that place. Put simply, if we want to flourish, we must live, not only in common faith with others, but in common fate with them as well. When we grasp this, the justification for service snaps to life. We then realize that service prepares the future and, to use Maya Angelou’s radiant phrase, “strengthens the foundations of the Universe.” In less metaphysical terms, an understanding of service is at the moral heart of what should emerge from the experience of higher education, which is, fundamentally, a commitment to those values that enable human beings to live together well.
Conrad, J. (1963). Lord Jim. New York: Doubleday Bantam Books, p. 115.
Coles, R. (2000). Lives of Moral Leadership. New York: Random House, p. 20.
Angelou, M. (1993). Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now. New York: Random House, p. 16.